When history repeats itself then it is better to be taught from its past rather than re-producing it. This must be the general rule for Runic Games, the developers that worked on Diablo I and II, and in 2009 released Torchlight, an action RPG that shared many similarities with the Diablo series.
Upon release Torchlight was considered an impressive game, but still felt like a younger brother of sorts when compared to the competition. With Torchlight II, Runic has expanded on everything that made the first game great to create a bigger, better experience, while adding co-op play.
In a post launch interview Wonder Russell, minister of culture at Runic Games, said they built on the style of the first Torchlight game as their first effort was a bit rushed, and made them to cut some corners. “With Torchlight 2, it was really about refining the existing look and ‘fixing’ some issues,” Russell said. “We set out crafting the Torchlight look with the ‘Dragon’s Lair meets The Incredibles’ recipe.”She said.
“I think we’ve added to the recipe without changing the dish, so to speak. There’s touches of new ingredients, a certain level of refinement and quality added, but it’s not suddenly something else. ”But, in addition to this, “it’s simply a look that appeals to our team and comes pretty naturally for us, especially in terms of design,” Russel said. “We wanted to be our own thing and ‘not another fantasy RPG’ where it’s a grey, bland, semi-realistic, or even borderline historical in how we present the world.”
The fact that Runic has created a game that is up there with the heavyweights of the genre is impressive; that they’ve done it at the same price as the original is nothing short of incredible.
Sound and Vision
Torchlight II retains and refines the visual style of the original; a beautiful designed game which brings cartoon style graphics and vibrant colours that can run on a wide variety of hardware. The framerate is smooth throughout in an average laptop, even with lots of enemies and spell effects lighting up the screen.
The game’s world is a mix of fantasy and steampunk environments with emphasis on detail on the dungeons but not so much detail on the open world which feel empty but are at least full of various enemies. Speaking of enemies it is worth to say that you can easily tell that Runic spend a fair amount of time in creating them. There is a huge variety of detailed enemies that come in many shapes, and colours.
Music in Torchlight II is varied, bringing heavy metal tunes, acoustic guitar pieces, orchestral stuff and so on. However this is not a soundtrack you will remember when you leave your PC as to be honest you are so sucked into the game that you can’t pay attention to anything else. Combat sound effects are great and even incidental sounds, like the whirring and clicking of the Engineer’s healing bot are well suited and add to the experience. In terms of voice work the game is great, but the voices for some of the non-human NPCs are just bad.