The year 2009 saw the release of Runic Games and Perfect World's action role-playing game Torchlight, which many compared to Blizzard Entertainment's Diablo series, unsurprising since a few of the minds behind that particular franchise's first two entries also worked on Torchlight. Fast forward to 2012, which saw the release of the game's first sequel, Torchlight II, which provides an offering very much on par with its predecessor.
Upon starting a new game, the player chooses one of many classes, more diverse in the sequel, among them being the Berserker that specializes in physical attacks and skills (and this reviewer's chosen class). The gameplay is largely the same as in the first Torchlight, with the player's character again having a pet that acts of their own will depending upon their A.I. setting, although new to the sequel is the ability of pets to have equipment to boost their parameters. The player normally attacks an enemy by moving the mouse cursor over and enemy and holding it, with attacks executing continuously.
Moreover, the player assigns skills to the left and right mouse buttons for easy access, with these skills consuming MP, and having a variety of effects. Leveling up allows players to put five points into their character's stats and one point into their class's various skills. The gameplay is largely solid for the most part, though death can be fairly frequent even on the easiest difficulty, though luckily, the player has several choices to continue after death, including free teleportation back to town, revival at the current area's entrance for some money, or revival at their point of death for a bigger chunk of cash.
Control is generally solid, with a decent direction on how to advance the main storyline and generous inventory space, not to mention the ability to tell how new equipment will increase or decrease the player's stats before purchasing it. Automaps are also and always a welcome feature in any Western or Japanese RPG, and in the end, interaction doesn't lead too much room for improvement aside from the retained limit on the player's equipment inventory.
The story is the weakest part of the game, with the player's customizable character naturally lacking any meaningful development, although there are some story scenes in between acts that are probably the sole redeeming aspect of the narrative.
Few Western RPGs this reviewer has played have had memorable soundtracks, and the first Torchlight sequel is no exception, given the overreliance upon ambience, although the voicework is solid. There is, however, an audio glitch during the story scenes where the music and narration constantly cut off, but otherwise, while the game isn't a treat for the ears, it isn't a repellent to them, either.
The graphics are largely the same as they were in the first game, not that this is a bad thing, as they look great in spite of some minor blandness and blockiness when viewed up close, not to mention some minor slowdown on low-end systems.
Finally, a straightforward playthrough of the sequel takes a little under twenty hours, although things such as a New Game+ provide plenty replayability. In the end, Torchlight II is a solid sequel that hits most of the right notes, particularly with regards to its gameplay, control, and graphics, although it does sometimes leave a little room for improvement, particularly with regards to its weak narrative and music, although those who enjoyed the first game will likely enjoy the second.
+Solid hack-and-slash gameplay.
+Superb replay value.
-Light on story.
-Music is somewhat ambient.
The Bottom Line:
Game Mechanics: 8/10
Lasting Appeal: 10/10
Playing Time: Less than 20 Hours