A lot of people are comparing Torchlight II to Diablo III, and it’s pretty easy to see why. In the Kanye West Harder Better Faster Stronger sense of the phrase, Torchlight II is a “poorly executed ripoff.” It only costs $20 on Steam, so it obviously doesn’t think too highly of itself. Its $20 quality scales evenly with Diablo III’s $60 quality, so I suppose you’re getting your money’s worth of grindy dungeon-crawler regardless of which game you choose. Since I’ve already reviewed Diablo III, it’s Torchlight II’s turn.
It has several minute positives to its name that makes it feel more like an MMORPG than an epic, chapter-divided saga. You get a pet that can attack enemies and transport loot back to town for selling, removing the necessity of Town Portal. Hell, it can even pick up some items from the store for you. If you go to fishing holes, you can catch fish that change your pet’s form and provide it with bonus effects to its attacks. You can also catch items from fishing holes, making them a useful source of money and goodies.
The quests feel terribly unimportant, as does the main plot. Some evil steampunk guy emerges from a portal and starts arbitrarily blowing the shit out of everything. Then, you have to go into several caves and crypts and beat down seemingly unrelated boss monsters and collect their loot. I suppose the game is designed to maximize the dungeon-crawling aspect, thus making sacrifices in other areas.
There are four classes to choose from: Mage, Engineer, Berserker, and Outlander. To clarify, Engineers are melee tanks, and Outlanders are gun-toting ranged DPS. Yes, there are guns. Sort of anachronistic, but again, part of the $20 deal. Each class has three skill trees to choose from, each skill taking about fifteen points to max. You can choose from whatever tree you want from the start, but don’t go getting too pumped about that.
With over 40 skills to choose from per class, it’s obvious that Torchlight II wants you to spend a lot of time playing, otherwise you’re stuck with noob abilities. It’s VERY hard to remain dedicated to the game if you’ve played Diablo III. When they say further customization of abilities, they lie. You unlock abilities slowly, and their mechanics are no more complicated than Diablo’s. They unlock on a linear basis, level by level, so the three trees of skills don’t mean dick until you hit level 60 or something like that.
I’ll admit that I haven’t played a whole lot of Torchlight II and that I’ve beaten Diablo III once. The thing is, I don’t really like either of these games. The dungeon-crawling factor is just too tedious. That is my opinion, and now you know about my bias. Factor that in.
A word of advice, just consider this more of a guideline than a review because of my imbalance of playtimes between games. All the same, I would highly recommend Diablo III over Torchlight II because of the higher level of uniqueness in the former. More classes, more immersion, MUCH better characters and cutscenes. Even if Torchlight II is cheaper, the impact to quality is a little too much to tolerate.
Dennis Farr of PasteMagazine branded Torchlight II as a step up from its predecessor and from the Diablo series. I respectfully disagree, but that is likely because the dungeon-crawler genre, to me, died with Diablo III, and Torchlight II is like beating a dead horse. Honestly, it might very well be worth a shot. Take a peek at his review to get a better understanding of the positives: http://www.pastemagazine.com/articles/2012/09/torchlight-ii-review-pc.html