[Review] Carrying a Torch for Torchlight II (PC)

Right now, I have somewhere between 15 to 25 games installed on my computer. I realize that might not be the brightest idea as games can generally take up massive hard drive space. But sometimes I am reluctant to uninstall a finished game from my PC, for fear of losing all my saves, or simply because I am not ready to let the game go yet.  What if I feel like mucking around and searching for long lost missions I never got to? What if some kickass downloadable content for the game is released? Instead of reinstalling the game and replaying everything again, I can just continue on where I left off.  I have also run into times where I’ve started a game and because of certain unforeseen circumstances, I’ve had to abandon it mid-play, with the hope of picking it up at a later date. Games like this also reside lovingly on my PC. One such game is Torchlight II.

In the Spring of 2013, between playing Earth Defense Force:Insect Armageddon and Borderlands 1, the hubs and I installed Torchlight II on our respective computers via Steam. Torchlight II is an Action Role Playing Game (ARPG); its genre wasn’t completely foreign to me at the time. Having completed Insect Armageddon with the hubs, I was just starting to gain an understand of what it meant to manage my character’s weapons and skills within a game; the crux of what an ARPG entails. I can’t say at the time I fully understood the interworkings…but I definitely had enough knowledge to finish the game. Torchlight II is a more complex ARPG from Insect Armaggeddon – now having to manage my character with more care; swapping out better clothing, assigning skill points to certain abilities and make sure my weapons were up to snuff when I leveled up. All of this was more involved, exciting even…and daunting. But, with help from the hubs, I stuck with it, clocking in over four hours of gameplay.

Then, it had to happen. Technology had to fail us! We ran into all kinds of issues with Torchlight II that prevented us from enjoying this game together. Our LAN and internet connection was causing lag, or we’d lose the internet altogether (it was our router)…that issue made us quit playing Torchlight II together. We decided to play the game on our own.

After that day, however, I didn’t bother to pick up Torchlight II again, but left it installed on my computer. There was something about this game that I wasn’t ready to give up on. It would call to me, and I’d think, “yes, I’ll get back to this.”

Fast forward to a couple of weeks ago, and the hubs asked if I wanted to try playing Torchlight II together again. I said I was interested, and to my surprise when I booted up the game, my last save point from 2013 said I was already at a level 12! Trouble was it had been a while, and I was a bit lost on the mechanics of the game. But, with the hubs’s brief menu tutorial and orientation, I was up and running again. To get me to my husband’s level 38, I had to level up further, which forced me to play the game by myself for about a week. It was a worthwhile pursuit. I had a blast, let me tell you!

Ask me what the plot to Torchlight II is, and I couldn’t tell you really other than to say I don’t feel one needs to play the first Torchlight game in order to play its sequel (I didn’t). The game’s setting is in a medieval futuristic steampunk middle-east Neverland, where people are able to port to the future, but live in cold stone castles (how’s that for contradiction?). The strength of the game is immersing yourself in missions to collect objects or to fight against bosses and their cronies. Your character teleports to distant worlds and caves to fight ugly bugs, bats, skeletons and monsters. The worlds you explore are mysterious, and sometimes gorgeous, and vary from humid forests and arid deserts, to damp and cramped caverns. Each place you explore is randomly generated by the game, and depending on where you wind up, you could be dealing with weather (rain and snow has been known to fall!). Each locale is connected to a “home base” or main town that you can teleport to where you can find merchants to buy and sell items from, a blacksmith to sharpen and fashion weapons, among other characters. If you care to sidetrack yourself from the main campaign, you may want to take part in some side missions as well, where you experience more interesting worlds. You pick up weapons, gold coins and health potions as you go, which you can use in your battles, or resell for currency.

This time ’round, I chose a kickass woman as my character I ubiquitously called Olbag*. Classified as an Outlander, Olbag is a nomadic, no nonsense chick ready to attack. She also had an awesome pet, a wolf-dog I named Danger who helped her in attacks.

You micro-manage your character in this game, right down to how they dress. Every inch of clothing, weapon and skill has a level assigned, which you must oversee in order to succeed in the game. It sounds like work, and no doubt it is. That alone might turn a lot of gamers new to ARPGs away. But, Torchlight II‘s menu system made it easy for me to understand what I was doing and how to proceed. And truthfully, I think my past gaming experience with tougher games  like Mass Effect, Borderlands and BioShock made this character-management stuff in Torchlight II actually fun.

And you all have heard me complain about mapping systems in games, and how shitty they can be. Let me tell you, Torchlight II got the map right. Easy to follow, and right there in the upper right hand corner of the game, visible at all times while you are playing the game; no having to go back into the menu to access the map (this game is tugging at my disoriented heartstrings!).

My second go-around with Torchlight II was the first time I felt like I could hit the ground running and just simply play this ARPG without stressing out whether I was doing the right things…I even saw a difference in how the hubs and I interact and play within Torchlight II together in co-op. For one thing, we weren’t yelling at each other for being in each other’s way. I even felt comfortable taking the lead in some of the missions. The tide has definitely turned for me and ARPGs. For once, I feel like I am home in the game, and for that, I will remember Torchlight II as being that defining game for me.

4.9/5

Torchlight II
Runic Games
2012

*Olbag (or “Old Bag”) is commonly what I name my female gaming characters. I’m poking fun at myself here…

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4 comments

  1. Sarca is Oldbag also a Seinfeld reference – as in give me the marble rye, you oldbag?! If not, I still enjoy the self-deprecating nature of the character name, if it is, yay!

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    1. haha, damn! Close… The marble rye is one of my favourite episodes. Around the time we were rewatching Seinfeld we played a round of Family Feud on the wii. My character was an old lady that looked the lady from the episode, so I named her Olbag. lol Ever since, it just never ended. I continue to name my female characters Olbag.

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