I didn't buy this for a long time, despite wanting to try it, because in my opinion, once you'd played one Diablo clone, you'd played them all. And I still hold this opinion to be very true in a lot of ways - for example, Titan Quest, while initally intriguing, became a hellish repetitive single-player slog through to the end that, after 20-something hours of playtime, left me exhasted and scarred. Torchlight, however, surpised me. Perhaps it has something to do with the well-designed classes that aren't quite as derivative as many Diablo-clones, or the deep levelling system that allows so much variation within the same class, or the well-honed difficulty scaling that makes you feel like you're always growing, or perhaps it's all these features combined that make this game stand out.
The controls are intuitive and the mechanics of the game are well-implimented. The enemies are numerous and varied, and there's always surprises to be found in every corner of the randomly-generated maps. The champions and bosses are similarly frequent in appearance, a factor which helps to eliminate that feeling that you're just grinding a way, wasting time until you fight a boss battle. In saying that, playing this game on single player, I did feel like I was taking part in the occasional grind through enemies and loot and levels, which bordered on tedious at time, but playing with a friend and sharing that burden eliminated that feeling entirely.
On the topic of multiplayer, I felt that it could have been slightly better implimented, in that, for one, it took forever for my friend and I to find each other in the server screen, and there was a bug that occasionally stopped us from adding one another without a full game restart. Also, unlike the Borderlands games (the pinnacle of intuitive multiplayer connectivity in my opinion), you cannot see what missions your partner has to do, so you're contantly relying on them telling you what they're up to (via text chat, if you don't have steam chat), and if you're more advanced than your partner, then any enemies that you've killed won't reappear for your partner, regardless of who is hosting the server. Although I'm sure there's a reason for these issues, they seem like really bizarre features to omit from the game. I mean, sure, you may get a tad overpowered if you're allowed to kill creatures a second time round, but is that really worse than your partner being forced to wade through a sea of emptiness, constantly underpowered due to lack of combat? In any case, all I can recommend is that you start multiplayer games at exactly the same time.
Torchlight 2 is a well-made, deep and enjoyable experience, especially with friends, that separates itself enough from other Diablo clones to really stand at the top of the pile.
Posted: November 25th, 2013