There are few genres that stick to what works as frequently as action role-playing games. Blizzard redefined the genre with the Diablo series, and few have strayed from that path in the intervening decades. Even Blizzard itself initially had trouble iterating on their success, letting Diablo lie for many years between sequels. In that time, many games rose to try to fill the void, and none did so quite as well as Torchlight and its sequel. Fast forward to 2019 and fans have soured on the Diablo name due to some rather unfortunate PR moves. Blizzard’s loss is once again Torchlight 2‘s gain, but can this seven-year-old release really bring the goods on Nintendo’s portable powerhouse? Mostly, yes.
Torchlight 2 Switch | Taking the hearthstone home
The plot of Torchlight 2 is a familiar and simple one. An evil sorcerer (one of the playable characters from the first game) intends to use his power to overtake the land. You choose one of four playable classes and bash your way through countless foes while trying to stop that from happening. The few cutscenes are Klei creations, back from when it was more known more for Shank than Griftlands. It adds a stylish touch to what is otherwise a pretty bare-bones excuse to get you adventuring.
As you might expect from a Diablo-esque game, the gameplay is basic but extremely satisfying. Even years later, Torchlight 2 retains a satisfying combat loop that never gets old. You’re always finding new loot, earning new abilities and gaining new quests. It’s an absorbing time sink, even if you’ve done this song and dance before. What Torchlight truly nails is the number of unique weapon types it throws at you, even in its opening hours. It gives you a good hint at the amount of variety you’ll be able to get from this campaign.
Torchlight 2 Switch | Rounding the random corner
Of course, even if this isn’t your first time, Torchlight 2 is never quite the same. The game’s randomized dungeons ensure that you never quite know what’s around the next corner. The deceased Runic Games was ahead of its time with this feature, foreseeing the rise of countless roguelikes with similarly random maps. It works well in Torchlight, but you can tell that the randomization lacks finesse, even after a sequel. There are dead ends and oddly placed corridors everywhere. The enemy placement is a little better, but the difficulty can shift from mind-numbingly easy to a brutal challenge without much warning.
ARPG veterans know all this already. But this Switch version of Torchlight 2 is mostly the same game it always was. Lovingly handled by top Switch port house Panic Button, this PC classic runs without a hitch in portable and console mode. I was able to get into massive fights with tens of skeletons and plenty of particle effects and I didn’t notice any signs of slowdown at all. Everything from the original release is here, even, for some reason, the Half-Life crossover Headcrab pet. It’s not bad at all, but it’s kind of like seeing Mario on a PlayStation.
Torchlight 2 Switch | Mimics as far as the eye can see
Panic Button did great work with the technical aspects of the game, but the team is not full of wizards. This is still a PC design at the end of the day, and you sacrifice some functionality for that portability. Menus in Torchlight 2 on Switch are pretty clunky to navigate with a joystick. This is a game all about gaining loot, but items fall into over 10 categories and quickly overwhelm you. Reading through skill and item descriptions with just a joystick can be a chore, which is exactly the opposite of what you should feel as you level up.
The most egregious change comes in the combat controls, which assign up to five skills to various face buttons. As you might imagine, each Torchlight 2 character has way more than five skills. Alas, you have to stick with a very limited subset whenever you’re in battle. It would have been nice to see some sort of radial menu or skill loadouts implemented, just so you could take advantage of the full depth of Torchlight‘s combat. What is here is still quite fun, but you’ll never get the full complexity of the PC original with this style of control.
Torchlight 2 Switch | Shrinking down PC perfection
If you’re happy with the trade-off, you’ll probably want to bring Torchlight 2 on the go. While the technical meat behind this port are second to none, the game doesn’t scale super well to the Switch’s small screen. In order to play properly, you need to keep the camera zoomed out pretty far, and your character is never that big on the screen. When you take it on the go, the world of Torchlight is just small enough to lose some of its luster. Text is hard to focus on, characters start to blur together, and everything’s just a bit fuzzy. If you’ve played a decent number of phone games, it’s likely that you’re used to this feeling. But it can be hard to take in this much complexity with so few pixels.
And that’s the gist of Torchlight 2 on the Switch. Performance-wise, the game is running on all cylinders and won’t let you down. If you’re OK with some of the sacrifices innate to the platform, you’ll have a swell time because of its solid core. If you’re worried about losing some details, there are other better versions of the game. However you play it, Torchlight 2 stands as an excellent time-waster, perfect for catching up on podcasts or old sitcom episodes. It’s low stakes dungeon crawling with a chill vibe, and that’s timeless.
GameRevolution covered Torchlight 2 on Switch with a copy provided by the publisher.