Review – Torchlight II (Switch)

It’s funny how things turn out. When Torchlight II originally released on PC all the way back in 2012, it was after Diablo III had released to near universal dismay. It came out at the perfect time to capitalize on that disappointment, with its shameless and proud adherence to the standards of the genre a strong contrast to vanilla Diablo III’s perversion of it. Yet at it’s long awaited console release, it’s Diablo III that has the upper hand.

There are two ways to handle PC to Console ports. There’s the Titan Quest/Cities: Skylines approach with optimization issues, UIs and controls that don’t work as well as they need to, and content left out to resell later. Then there’s the Diablo III/Pillars of Eternity approach with smooth performance, wholly rebuilt UI’s and controls, and every piece of content ever released packed in. Sadly, despite how great a game Torchlight II truly is, this port veers far too often towards the former over the latter. It’s not exactly broken, but there are far too many issues that bring the gameplay down.

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Right from the start, there’s far more customization options then your standard ARPG. It’s not exactly Bioware RPG level, but it’s above merely picking a gender.

As far as the game goes, it is phenomenal. The goal was to create a modern version of Diablo II, and they succeeded. Everything works exactly as it should, but better. You have your attribute and skill trees, but they’ve been expanded and synergized. The equipment and loot systems work exactly the same. merely with a few more slots and a new legendary rarity type. There are some new things brought to the table as well. Pets, for example, which you can send to town while in the wild to sell items to clean up your inventory. There’s also the map system which functions as a proto-version of the Diablo III’s Nephalam Rifts. The story is even a carbon copy of Diablo II’s, with the Alchemist filling in for the Dark Wanderer. None of this ever feels like a problem, merely a perfect example of not fixing what wasn’t broken.

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This game came out at the time when every game had fishing. Still, it’s fun.

Sadly, after plenty of time with this console port, broken is the word that comes to mind. It is still technically fully playable, even fun. It’s certainly nowhere near as unplayable as the Titan Quest port was, for sure. The problem is, far too often you’re required to fight the game in order to enjoy it. A variety of skills, especially movement based ones such as the Embermage’s teleport or the Outlander’s leap either glitch out or simply don’t work. The UI has a few visual glitches where the wrong tool-tip pops up for the chosen attribute which can be annoying while assigning your hard earned points. Online barely functions, with full connection losses common. One of the nastiest bugs is with the New Game + mode. Every time you exit the game after starting it, the next time you re-enter the game difficulty is increased +1. New Game +1 becomes +2 and so on, meaning everything gets harder, but you remain the same and all quest progress is lost. Then there’s the usual range of glitches and rarely even crashes. No one big thing that kills the game, but rather death by a thousand cuts.

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The equipment UI isn’t the worst ever, but is it ever a chore to move around.

There’s also the question of a few questionably removed features. Chief among them are weapon switching and full build respecialization. Weapon switching was pretty critical to some builds in the PC version, builds that are now impossible in this port as the entire functionality has been removed. Similarly there is no way to fully reset your character’s skill and attribute points. You can only reset your last three skill points and no more. This makes buildcrafting and tuning impossible and increases the chances of making a nonviable build. Also there is no same screen co-op, something else the console port of Diablo III has.

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The highly stylized art style of the cinematics were divisive, but in my opinion greatly helped the game age as well as it has visually. 

I love this game. As someone who considers Diablo II one of the greatest games of all time, I was bewitched with Runic Game’s proof that sometimes lightning can strike twice. Even this port, with all of its flaws, still manages to channel that same magic and I enjoyed my time with it. However, it’s undeniably a mess. Not an unfixable one, mind you, some dedicated patch work could easily turn this around and make it the game it deserves to be. Still, as it currently stands, you’re far better off getting Diablo III to scratch that ARPG itch on consoles and playing this game on PC where it still shines brightly. 

Graphics: 7.0

As far as indie games from 2012 go, it doesn’t look half bad.

Gameplay: 4.0

Numerous control issues can make the normally great combat feel awkward, and visual glitches alongside the UI make customization a chore.

Sound: 8.0

Matt Uelman’s soundtrack is as usual phenomenal, and the voice-acting is more then passable.

Fun Factor: 4.0

As it was, the game was great. This port, though playable, is brought down by numerous bugs and glitches, control issues, and removed features.

Final Verdict: 5.0

Torchlight II is available now on PC, Xbox One, PS4, and Switch.

Reviewed on Switch.

A copy of Torchlight II was provided by the publisher.

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