Torchlight II Review

01 Oct 2012

Eschalon: Book II

Publisher:Perfect World Entertainment
Developer:Runic Games
Release Date:2012-09-20
Genre:
  • Role-Playing,Action
Platforms: Theme: Perspective:
  • Third-Person
Buy this Game: Amazon ebay
The quests in Torchlight II are about what you'd expect from an action RPG -- go somewhere and kill something, or go somewhere and collect something.  The storyline and the quests do just enough to nudge you through the game world, but they're about as interesting and distinctive as the enemies.  That is, they're not.  However, the Torchlight II world isn't a terrible place.  All (or almost all) of the maps are random, and every so often you find a minor puzzle or an event, or you kill a phase beast that grants you access to a challenge map (such as fighting in an arena), to keep things from getting too repetitive.

The campaign lasts about 20 hours, and you're likely to finish it somewhere around level 50.  At that point you gain access to the Mapworks, which allows you to explore random maps, or you can start a new "plus" game, where you repeat the campaign with enemies 50 levels higher.  Since the four classes play so differently, that means you could spend 80 hours in the game just playing them through the campaign once, or you could spend 160 hours or more trying to get them to level 100 (the level cap).  You can't retire characters in Torchlight II like you could in Torchlight, but that's just as well.  I'm not sure how popular that feature was anyway, and every time I tried it, my heirloom item would break and become way too powerful anyway.

Graphics and Sound

If anywhere, the graphics and sound departments are where you can tell that Torchlight II is a budget game.  Let me start with the graphics.  The game doesn't use a particularly high polygon count, so everything looks a little boxy, the animations and spell effects are on the simple side, and Runic Games didn't show any restraint, so when you get a lot of enemies fighting you at once, you can really "taste the rainbow" (so to speak) with all of the spells and combat moves triggering at once.  There are also some minor issues, like despite the game being in 3D you're not allowed to rotate the camera (you can only zoom in and out), and when events get blocked by foreground objects, instead of those objects turning transparent, creatures are either outlined in red (for enemies) or blue (for you and your allies), making it difficult to tell what's going on, especially since enemies continue to show up for a couple of seconds after they've been killed.

That being said, I don't think many people are going to complain about the graphics.  The game has a cartoony look, but this is probably intentional, and it helps to prevent exploding enemies and other violence from appearing too gruesome.  There is also great variety to the environments and the creatures, and they're all colorful and appealing.

The sound, on the other hand, doesn't fare as well.  The voice acting is not impressive at all (possibly because the script doesn't give the actors anything to do, and the Alchemist doesn't get any lines at all), and only the main quests are fully acted.  Meanwhile, the music and battle effects get the job done without being memorable one way or the other.

Conclusion

Torchlight II is a fine sequel and a fine budget game.  If we were to give an award to budget RPG of the year, then it would probably win.  It's just that, to me at least, I look at all of the talent working at Runic Games, and it makes me sad that all they're making is a by-the-numbers action RPG.  They should be making the next great thing rather than yet another iteration of the last one.

But you can't go wrong buying the game.  Torchlight II gives you all sorts of options for creating and developing a character, an expansive world to explore and kill things in, and a bunch of loot to sort through and brag to your friends about.  What's more, because Torchlight II is a budget game, it's even an excellent deal.  So if you like action RPGs, then Torchlight II is definitely a game to try out.