by Jason Parker (Ragachak)
One of my favorite ways to play Action-RPGs is with a controller. The characters only need a few moves, so it’s easy to slot your abilities across a few buttons. You run around, murder things, and pick up tons of loot. You don’t need to communicate with people, outside of voice chat. It’s a wild, endless amount of carnage and color-coded gear.
Torchlight II is an iconic, classic isometric RPG, and it’s finally coming to console. I’m conflicted on this timing. Part of me thinks it should have come out years ago. I’d rather see the game on the Switch, PS4, and Xbox One instead of older consoles. The more modern consoles offer a purer experience. I have heard of issues with crashing on the PS4 and Xbox One, but that has not happened to me on the Switch. Still, I love Torchlight, and with a new addition to the franchise on the way, this is a solid time to look back.
Torchlight II does not have a lot of tutorials or offer a lot of hand-holding. The game was released back in 2012, and so I imagine it takes a lot of its age for granted. The original game did not offer tutorials, and as this is a port, no new ones were added. So if you don’t already know how to enchant gear, you’ll have to Google it. The gameplay loop is simple anyway, as ARPGs should be. You pick one of four character classes: Berserker, Embermage, Engineer, Outlander. Each character has a trio of builds they can pick skills from. There are also four stats (Strength, Dexterity, Focus, Vitality). You pick a character, a cute pet to help you fight, and dive into the world. Pick up quests, head to the next area, and kill more challenging enemies. Gear up, level up, head to the next area, and resume the murder spree.
Like every good looter ARPG before it, Torchlight II has a rarity system with color-coded gear. Where Torchlight stands out though is how it handles the requirements for gear. There is class-exclusive gear, but for the most part, everything you find can be equipped. Every piece of gear has optional level requirements, and it’s a brilliant idea. You can either have the appropriate character level, or you can have the correct stats. You might need to be level 17 OR have 27 Strength and 20 Focus. The stat requirements for rarer and more powerful gear tend to be a bit more strict, but you will likely be focusing on a few stats anyway. So gear that matches what you’re trying to do will be much easier to equip. There are also plenty of gear sets to collect, which all have their own set bonuses.
Another fun, new feature for newcomers to Torchlight II are the pets. Which pet you pick is irrelevant, but each console version of Torchlight II also has a unique pet. Pets help you fight, but can also run errands for you. If you’re on a map and have a full inventory of gear, you can send your pet back to town to sell gear for you. This lets you focus on the important thing: murdering anything in your path. In the beginning, on my Berserker, I had to go back to town for identification scrolls and potions, because I was getting smashed. Once I had decent gear, that all changed. Your pet can definitely be helpful though. Don’t be afraid to send them out to do some gear selling.
Combat feels incredible on the Switch, especially with the Pro Controller. It’s fine on the Joycons, but I prefer the Switch Pro Controller. You can bind abilities to face/shoulder buttons, and in Torchlight, I tend to only focus on a couple of abilities at a time. This meant I did not have to struggle on which ability I needed to put on my controller. When you use your basic attack and an enemy is near, your character will move closer to them. This works as some manner of aim assist. This occasionally backfired, and I would find myself walking around a character instead of attacking. Combat is nonetheless easy and satisfying.
You can get lost within the huge packs of enemies, but that’s a staple of ARPGs. While the gameplay loop is easy to get your head wrapped around, the end-game is on the boring side. Later ARPGs have options for endless progression and endless gameplay. That is a bit before Torchlight II’s time, so don’t expect it here. This is one of the few minor gripes concerning Torchlight II. Talking to some NPCs can be very frustrating. You have to have your character positioned when you’re talking to the Smith, as an example. Instead, I attack the air three to four times trying to sell gear. The problems with the game are minor, but the fun is serious.
What (Torch)light Beyond the Window Breaks: 4/5 (Great)
Torchlight II has replayability with character classes and builds, in addition to online multiplayer. It’s a gorgeous and fun game. There is absolutely tons of loot to pick up, and that’s the fun for me. The combat is action-packed; there are plenty of quests and secrets to find. There is also a never-ending supply of powerful monsters to do battle with. It’s fun in multiplayer, and it looks awesome. Torchlight is a classic ARPG, and the Switch edition has been a pleasure to experience. Torchlight II is a game I often find myself losing hours in. I always say that I’m going to go complete a map, and the next thing I know, two and a half hours have passed me by.
While I wish it had come to console sooner, I’m glad to have it now. This isn’t an HD Remake or a Remaster: just a solid, strong port of a classic Action RPG which I recommend it for the Switch. I prefer playing ARPGs like this on a controller, though I understand not everyone does. All four classes are a blast, and there are no wrong choices. Torchlight II still offers a high quality ARPG experience, even after all these years. Even if you played it on PC years ago, I would still recommend picking it up again on a console. It has been an absolute treasure, and worthwhile addition to my growing Switch library.
Note: A game key was provided for review purposes.
Torchlight II Nintendo Switch Gallery: