Eight in the morning, and I want more
Sitting in the soft glow of my LCD, bleary-eyed, mouth agape, feverishly hacking, slashing, shooting and exploding my way through legions of monsters, demons and other infernal beings, I looked up, and realized it was eight in the morning. I shrugged and went right back to furiously clicking my foes to death.
This is the beauty of Torchlight II. You will endlessly upgrade your equipment, improve your abilities, and you will slaughter monsters by the tens of thousands, in a lush, meticulously crafted world. And while you are doing it, you will lose all sense of time. Put simply, Torchlight II has far surpassed any and all expectations I had. It is a tour de force, a monumental achievement, the perfect blend of combat, strategy and mayhem. This is Torchlight II.
There are four classes to choose from. The Engineer - capable of both dishing and sustaining massive amounts of damage - unleashes steampunk contraptions to wreak havoc on the battlefield. The Beserker is the veritable barbarian, quick, ferocious, unrelenting, and armed with a flurry of animalistic attacks that rip his enemies apart. The Embermage uses fire, frost, shock and poison to maim and destroy foes. The Outlander, the class I spent the most time with, is a ranged weapon specialist who uses long-range bows, mid-range pistols, and short-range canons and shotguns to pulverize anything in her path.
Every time you level you are given character and skill points. Character points can be spent to enhance your four core statistics: Strength, Dexterity, Focus and Vitality. Strength increases the damage you dish out, dexterity improves the odds of getting critical strikes as well as dodging incoming blows, focus adds to your magic damage and vitality enhances your health and armor. I quickly learned to keep several character points saved because the better equipment in the game has level and stat requirements. The perfect pistol you found can be equipped at level 35, or earlier, if your Dexterity is at 99. This allows you to work with better equipment, at the cost of slightly lopsided statistics.
Skill points are used to enhance active or passive special abilities, which evolve and enhance with every point spent. The skills are divided into unique trees for each of the four classes and the branches of each tree hold 10 skills. You need to spend points with caution as you can only re-spec the last three points spent and will need to find a specific NPC to do so.
As an example, my Outlander is almost maxed out in Glaive Throw, a skill that sends out a glaive of magical energy that slices through enemies. Maxing out the skill, you can hit up to eight enemies in a single throw, add poison damage and reduce the movement speed of your targets with every point invested. In addition, it has a high chance of interrupting the target’s casting. This is just one skill and with 30 skills to choose from per class, the level of customization is astounding.
Torchlight II maintains the same style of cartoony graphics that gave the first one its endearing quality but adds polish with a meticulous hand behind the paintbrush. The palettes are vivid and alive with colors. Lily pads create ripples in small ponds. A light layer of sand blows over perfectly sculpted sand dunes. Snow falls in scattered patches. There is an incredible variety in the environments, dungeons and the open world. One dungeon in particular absolutely blew me away. It was a magical smorgasbord of traps, moving floor tiles, inventive puzzles, and a steady stream of enemies pouring in from every conceivable crevice. During all of this, I had to stay within the circular boundaries of a frantically moving protective beam of light. At the end of the sequence, I had to take a step back, realizing I had been holding my breath for some time. This is what video games are supposed to do: give you a world so intense, so real, and so captivating, that you literally forget to breathe.
Accompanying you on your hunt for the Alchemist is Matt Uelmen’s mesmerizing soundtrack, that ebbs, flows and ripples as though with a life of its own. Every tune is beautifully crafted, enhancing the moment, giving you a sense of heroic purpose, and driving your forward with renewed zeal.
Amazing graphics, satisfying sound, riveting combat, tons of customization, piles of loot and plenty of replay value, multiplayer is fun.
Multiplayer needed more UI polish, skill bugs, weak story.