It’s pretty difficult to even bring up Torchlight 2 without having the words, Diablo 3, hanging over it like a large asterisk. Although they’re both pretty much the same from an outside observer’s point of view, they differ quite a bit when you break them down. Diablo 3 is a much darker and grittier game, not entirely in graphics, but in atmosphere. Torchlight 2, on the other hand, feels cartoony and has a less satanic presence that comes from the Diablo franchise. This is what makes it stand out above the other generic RPGs—and most games in general.

The thing about Torchlight 2 is that it’s fine tuned in most of the aspects of RPGs that bug us today. For example in most RPGs you run out of space very quickly and end up spending 90% of the time clicking and dragging your inventory around because you want to be able to keep the sword of fiery explosions, but you can’t keep both it and the icy gloves of apathy. Well, Torchlight gives you a pet that has his own inventory and will run back to town and sell all the stuff you don’t want, as well as pick up some items at the store. This is what more RPGs need. Having a companion around to carry and sell items is one of the biggest god-sends in games of recent years. I no longer feel like I’m nothing more than an employee at Kohl’s just running around selling clothing items to everybody. It’s pretty funny how adding in this one little feature ended up changing the entire pacing of the game into a more enjoyable experience.

Torchlight 2 also boasts a much larger group of abilities to unlock with each level up than Diablo 3 does. For the Outlander class you can get anything from shooting vines out of a gun to summoning a floating head who can look at the enemies with a menacing glance. Probably my favorite is the Rune Vault, which launches you backwards while sending out an energy wave where you left off. This particular move made the game feel like it was actually possible to play without tanking and chugging health potions the entire time. The fights were more interesting and varied with the acrobatic techniques available to dodge and quickly circle around enemies, escalating the game into a full blown adventure, rather than just another point and click RPG that has surprisingly large number of enemies.

Did I mention the almost earth-shattering number of enemies in this game? Well that’s just another thing that Runic Games did an awesome job at—the variety of creatures and areas. The areas expand from forests to deserts to the icy tundra, and the list goes on. At any moment you could be fighting crabs or yetis, but then be surprised to see a flying eyeball thing has been tossing magic bolts at you like snowballs. I’d probably be a manic depressive working at Runic Games with the sheer number of monsters and environments that have to be made just for this one game. And to add to that monstrous workload, everything has to be cell shaded, which is actually this game’s strongest point.

Yes, the cell shaded art style is probably the best part above all the other aspects that have proven to be intuitive. Now, the cell shaded look provides the reason why all the environments and enemies are nice to look at, because they don’t clash. You see, most of the games made today go for the used coffee filter mixed with some pebbles art style, which is just hideous to look at. It’s impossible to differentiate the backgrounds from enemies and you get nothing more than an eye sore out of the deal. Torchlight 2 was much bolder by giving the blissfully colorful cartoon style graphics to make everything a huge and vibrant world full of more life than most games can even comprehend. I think that this goes to show that Torchlight 2 has more heart and soul because of the colorful world that is wholeheartedly enjoyable to look at and take in. You feel like you want to continue on an adventure to see what else there is out there, and find more things to do in these places.

Runic Games made a world that people want to explore for less than half the price of what mainstream releases cost. And overall, it might be the Diablo clone that surpassed its original.

About The Author

Joel Draggoo is a game critic set out on an adventure to pick apart games to find the hidden gems of our medium. He tends to feel that developers need to know that we as consumers won't accept every generic piece of vile that they throw to us from their golden throne. Also he thinks that people who refer to themselves from the third person are incredibly uncreative.

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