Platforms: Win, Mac, Linux
Steam Rating: 95% positive
I don’t pre-order games often, and on the rare occasion I do, it’s usually because it’s an expansion for whatever MMO I’m currently devouring, or an Elder Scrolls game. Usually, the pre-order incentives aren’t enough for me to drop full-price on an unfinished game, but when Torchlight II was about to drop, I was enjoying my first trip through the Diablo universe courtesy of the World of Warcraft season pass and Diablo 3, and I just wanted to smash things. Then it was announced that if you pre-ordered Torchlight II on Steam, you got the previous Torchlight game for free, and I was sold.
As it turns out, I thought Torchlight was alright, but it didn’t wow me, and I didn’t hold out a lot of hope for the sequel. However, Torchlight II took all the cool things about the first game, and improved upon them. It grew the world, added some really nifty quality of life changes, and it’s one of the few games I’ll be talking about this month that I actually had already put a good chunk of time into already.
There are four classes, playable as either male or female avatars, with a pretty decent variety of pet skins to choose from. Your pet will not only help you in combat, but it has quite a large inventory, and you can send it back to town at any time to both sell excess items and buy a few things from a shopping list. It might seem like a small thing, but not having to haul my butt back to town every time my inventory is full makes playing the game so much more enjoyable and inventory management much less of a chore.
For me, this is a great mindless game. Explore maps, kill stuff, kill more stuff, remember to spend stat points every few levels sometimes. Of course, I play on normal difficulty because that’s the experience I want. There are four difficulty levels in total, and you can create hardcore characters which get deleted upon character death, so if you prefer a challenge, that’s also an option.
That said, I was actually a little surprised to find this game to be so highly reviewed – not because of any issues I have with it, but because I can see it being a little too much for a story-focused gamer. Maybe story-focused gamers don’t play ARPGs? If you don’t take your time and clear most if not all of the maps, you’ll quickly find yourself in a situation where you are grossly under-leveled for the areas your quests are sending you to. Personally, I like nothing more than having every nook and cranny of a map uncovered, but I can see how it could get tedious if that’s not your thing.
The ARPG market is certainly more saturated than when Torchlight II came out in 2012, but – at least in my opinion – it holds up. The cartoon-style graphics keep it from looking dated, and it still feels lovely to play. It’s got great replay value, literally hundreds of mods (as well as excellent built in mod support), new game plus functionality and supports up to four player co-op. It’s pretty much the total package, and still worth playing, although it may pale somewhat beside some newer entries into the genre. Pick it up on sale if you don’t own it, or if you do, give it another go from your library.