Torchlight II Review

Reviewed On
21.5" iMac, 3.2Ghz, 4GB RAM, ATI Radeon 5670, 512MB. Mavericks 10.9.3

Torchlight II is the newest RPG game to hit Mac, after about two and a half years of waiting Mac gamers can now play the sequel to the original Torchlight. Torchlight II is an isometric Action-RPG from Runic Games that plays a lot like the older Diablos, which is in part because a chunk of the Diablo 2 development team now works for Runic games.

You play as one of four classes, which somewhat resemble the classic MMORPG archetypes: Engineer, Berserker, Embermage, and Outlander. The Engineer is a melee tank that can summon various devices to help him fight. The Berserker is more of a melee DPS class that is very mobile and deals a lot of damage but cant take hits too well. The remaining two are ranged classes: The Embermage who is a spellcaster with devastating magic, and the Outlander who specializes in high damage with a lot of spells focused on keeping his enemies out of range. 

Each class has a distinct playstyle and a class of weapons they excel with. The Berserker is best with dual wielded melee weapons that attack quickly. The Engineer uses powerful but slow two-handed melee weapons like warhammers, the Embermage uses staffs, and the Outlander dual wields pistols, bows, crossbows or a powerful shotgun.

torchlight II mac Choose your class

Choose your class

 As you level up you are able to define your class even further. Each level the player is granted 5 stat points and 1 skillpoint. The stat points can be spent on five different areas that increase different types of damage or health, while the skill point can be invested in active or passive skills. Each skill can be leveled up to a maximum of 15 times, getting better every point and gaining a bigger bonus every 5 points. Each class has 3 skill trees that all focus on different areas. The Outlander, for example, has one tree that grants him massive area of effect damage, one that gives him abilities to keep enemies away, and one that is focused on buffing him and his allies while debuffing enemies.  However, even though each class has multiple playstyles I feel that the progression system tends to lock players into a certain path quite a bit, so I would advise to find a playstyle you like and stick with it. This is because you can only revert up to three spent skillpoints for some gold in the hub towns, and stat points are spent permanently.

If Torchlight II has a specific flaw, it is accessibility. The interface is, especially for people new to the genre like me very cluttered and complicated. There are three buttons on either side of the screen that are used to bring up various panels for your inventory, your pets inventory, your spells etc. The interface isnt too complicated when you are used to it, but to a newbie it will certainly seem pretty intimidating and you may find yourself confused.

The combat is probably the most important thing in Torchlight 2, and personally Im a big fan of it. Enemies usually spawn in clusters, and there is a lot going on, especially later on when you pretty much have 5 or so active skills that you will have to use to deal with bigger crowds. Both skills and standard attacks feel very impactful and satisfying to use. Usually there will be a lot of low health enemies with a few harder to kill heavy hitters in-between. Pretty much every enemy also explodes in some way when killed, which along with the sound effects makes the weapons and spells feel very powerful.

torchlight II mac Fight!

Fight!

 Loot is one of Torchlight 2‘s most important aspects, and while it doesnt do anything hugely different to other games of its genre, it has some very interesting new ideas. Almost every enemy drops loot but its rare to find decent gear on a normal enemy, as opposed to Bosses or Minibosses who tend to drop better loot, usually unique items that have passive bonuses in addition to the normal stats. Even when you are lucky however you will most likely sell about 95% of your loot, as most of the items either arent good for your class/play style or you already own better gear. What I really like is that items have both a level and a stat requirement.This means you can bypass the level requirement if you have a lot of stat points spent on the required stats. It also kind of restricts you from using weapons that arent for your class, because while you might be able to use them, you usually wont spec the stats other classes need that much, therefore further diminishing the usefulness of these weapons.

A feature that is unique to the Torchlight series is that every player gets a pet. In the beginning you can choose from 13 different cosmetic skins, including cats, wolves, hawks as well as wackier pets like a headcrab, a panda or an alpaca. The pets will fight for you in combat and have the ability to learn spells. The most useful thing your pet can do is to go to town and sell items you give it, and while its there it can buy consumables such as health or mana potions as well. This is amazingly useful as you will have a full inventory quite often. Pets can also equip up to two tags and a collar that will boost their stats and give them interesting passive effects like healing you for every attack they do. Pets can also be transformed into different animals using fish, which will give them different benefits, depending on the fish you fed them.

torchlight II mac Pet inventory

Pet inventory

Torchlight 2s story is forgettable at best. It is mostly presented through quest dialogue and the occasional cinematic cut-scene. A lot of the story quests feel very much like padding. For example, at some point in the story a Djinn promises to help you after you do some fetch-quests for his amusement. The strong point about it are the side quests though. You will need to do at least some of them if you dont want to be under-leveled for half the game. There are no obnoxious markers on your mini-map, and there is no way to see which side quests you could be doing. You have to go through the map and actively look for them, which is a nice change from most games that shove the quest markers in your face until you decide to do them just so the game stops bugging you about it.

The games visuals are cartoon-ish, and a lot less detailed than Diablo 3s graphics, but this also shows in its small download size of about 1.5 Gigs compared to Diablos 30 Gigs or so. The environments vary a lot, from forests to deserts and hellish dungeons, with every environment having a fitting atmosphere. The game also has a lot of different enemies, each with their own special attacks or other specialties that help to keep the experience engaging and varied.

torchlight II mac Saving a quest giver

Saving a quest giver

 

It performs okay, running at about 60fps when on medium settings on my 2010 iMac with occasional drops down to 30fps in crowded fights. I havent tried the other settings yet, but I am personally willing to give up a few fps for a more visually appealing experience, especially in a non-competitive game.

In case anyone is concerned about replayability, dont worry. The game uses randomly generated areas to keep things fresh, so you might find a new secret or a hidden quest you never saw on your 1st playthrough. There is also the option to do new game plus, where you can explore NG+ exclusive dungeons with tougher enemies and restart the campaign without losing your character or your items. The game also has modding support and Steam workshop integration so you can try one of the dozens of completely finished classes on the steam workshop as well.

Verdict

Torchlight 2 is a game that wont hold your hand and has a pretty steep learning curve. It doesnt really have a great story, but its combat system and skill variety makes it very fun to play nevertheless. So if you are willing to get into it, you will have one hell of a time with it, especially when you play cooperatively with friends.

Highlights

+:

  • LOTS of content
  • Satisfying combat
  • Customisation
  • Replayability

-:

  • Steep learning curve
  • Forgettable story

Overall rating: 4/5.