TORCHLIGHT II [Nintendo Switch Review]: Out of the Darkness.

Robert “The DCD” Workman
@thedcd

The original Torchlight came out earlier this decade for both PC and Xbox 360, developed by the team at Runic Games. It found a neat little following with its dungeon crawling and impressive action, tied together by a series of quests and an abundant amount of customization.

To that end, we’re a little surprised that we didn’t get a sequel for it on consoles sooner, considering that it’s been out on PC all these years (since 2012?). Alas, thanks to Perfect World Entertainment, we’ve finally got one – and, suffice to say, Torchlight II has been worth the wait.

 

And what’s more, it’s got additional platforms to choose from now. Along with Xbox One, players can enjoy it on Nintendo Switch (reviewed) and PlayStation 4. No matter which platform you go with, there’s a lot to enjoy here.

The game features four different playable classes, each with a fine assortment of skill trees to choose from, along with various items to pick up. You start out with a  default weapon, but you can switch up depending on your level, should you feel the need to skoosh the enemy with something different. It doesn’t hurt to do some experimentation here, and mix things up with upgrades so that you truly become powerful. This is especially true as you enter the ranked up dungeons and find yourself overwhelmed by enemy forces, lest you become a stain on the pavement.

I ain’t scurred.

The story itself is merely a placeholder for the quests that are to come, but it does have some interest, centering around one of the heroes from the main game – the Alchemist – and the corruption that’s taken hold of the world thanks to him. As a result, you’ll need to do some digging, while at the same time completing quests for others and reaping the rewards. After all, you’re not going to make progress unless you complete these, you know.

What makes Torchlight II so superb is that it balances the gameplay that made the original work so well, while also introducing new elements with the weapons and upgrades to make it feel rather fresh. What could’ve easily been considered mundane in the wrong development hands ends up being superb here, thanks to Runic Games’ fine tuning, with a little help from Panic Button’s fine port work. (They usually do their best stuff on the Switch anyway, surprise.) And there’s something for everyone here with each of the available classes, along with their pets. They even threw in a headcrab from the Half-Life days, if that’s what you fancy. (Of course, there’s nothing wrong with a loyal killer animal as well.)

How runic.

Along with main quests, there are also secrets to uncover and secondary missions to take on, providing hours of play. And if one class doesn’t work for you, you can always switch things up and try someone different, just to see what they can do for you. If a magical class isn’t your thing, for example, then perhaps more visceral can fit the bill. That’s the magic of Torchlight II for you – if one thing doesn’t mesh, another certainly will.

You can also level up your character in a number of ways and equip them with up to eight items, including magic. It can take a while to build up, which may test some of the impatient out there. But stick with it and you’ll find your can truly make a badass of yourself – and that’s good news considering some of the boss battles that lie ahead here.

Pic

The game will take roughly 25 or so hours to get through the main quest, but there’s more to go through beyond that, thanks to the new game plus mode (which is even tougher). What’s more, you can bring friends along for the ride, as the game fully supports both local and online play for up to four players. It’s a bit like Gauntlet like way, but with a bit more strategy. And while sessions can get chaotic with everyone battling on-screen, there’s still nothing like it.

That said, there are some missions that can drag, particularly towards the second half of the game. But, again, very seldom did we find ourselves bored by what was happening. Just keep at it.

Classin’ up the place.

The presentation is sharp with Torchlight II. It looks magnificent, running at a steady frame rate with beautiful character models and backdrops, as well as some impressive creature design. Even in multiplayer, the game looks solid throughout – and a fine improvement over the first to boot. For that matter, the music is good as well, though not great. And the sound effects and samples offer a good variety, too.

On occasion, you’ll run into a slight technical error – but nothing that gets in the way of how we feel about this marvelous sequel.

Roguelight.

In the end, Torchlight II sure took its sweet time getting to consoles. But the wait turned out to be worth it. Panic Button’s translation is razor sharp, offering all the solid presentation and gameplay we’ve come to expect from the PC port.

Whether going at it alone or with friends, there’s something of extraordinary value here. Some of the game drags a bit, and the technical hiccups are noticeable. Overall, though, this is a sequel that dungeon crawlers and epic adventurers shouldn’t miss. 4.5/5 Lit Torches.

-Robert Workman

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