For the first 11 days of the Steam Summer Sale, I didn’t buy anything. Having to pay off a $1,000 computer on a minimum wage job meant that I was bound to using only the $15 I already had in my wallet from the start of the sale. Upon droning to myself, “Got it. Got it. Got it. Got it,” day after day while scrolling through the deals, I quickly discovered that I owned a lot more games than I thought I did. After a week of nothing really piquing my interest I decided that by the last day I would buy two games: Rogue Legacy for $12 and Sid Meier’s Pirates! for $5. A last minute decision to read up on a few of the final day’s Encore Sale titles, convinced me to try something new and I decided to forgo Pirates! for Torchlight II. After having a day off from work to play both of them, I can confidently say that it was $15 well-spent.
Rogue Legacy – I almost bought this game halfway through the sale after I played it on a friend’s computer and had an absolute blast. Now that I have my own copy, I’ve put four hours into it so far, but it’s been a lot of fun despite a few design quibbles. The game is a retro 2D hack ‘n’ slash/platformer “rogue-lite” where every death sends you back to the beginning of the game, but armor, skills, and loot transfer to a new character, similar to how the iOS game Infinity Blade works. The only thing that doesn’t pass down to your next character is money which means that you’re encouraged to spend it on whatever new skills, buffs, or equipment you can before attempting another run. What keeps the game from becoming a slog is that the world where the game takes place is randomly generated every time you start over. While the game is very difficult it hardly ever becomes frustrating. The controls are nearly spot-on (the only real pain being the downward attack being interrupted too easily), meaning that once you become accustomed to the manic, almost bullet hell-esque, action you quickly find yourself getting better at the game. Every successful run feels incredibly rewarding even though it will inevitably end in death. The biggest downside is the way the classes and spells are handled. Every time you die, you’re given the choice of three new randomly-generated characters to play as. As a result, for each run you often have a different spell or different class than the run before. The spells feel very weak and all of the classes look essentially the same making it easy to forget the class you chose, ignore the spell you have, and to rely mainly on your sword, the main weapon that every class has. Despite that, I’d highly recommend the game to anybody, especially fans of classic 8- or 16-bit action/platformers like Castlevania or Mega Man.
Torchlight II – I picked this game up because, 1) the art displayed on the Steam Store of a big fiery metal demon-machine-thing looks incredible, and 2) I’ve never really had any experience with point-and-click action RPGs. I’m two hours in and, so far, I am sorely disappointed with myself for not trying it out sooner. My initial worry was that combat would be boring or uninvolving, but there’s far more to it than I initially expected. Having to manage abilities, health, mana, your pet, and your on-screen position while fighting hordes of enemies is exciting and engaging. The world feels large and mysterious. Open areas are littered with enemies, quests, locked chests, and loot to find in every corner. Finding new loot after every battle or quest, equipping it, selling what loot you don’t need then buying even more, and seeking out enemies to test it on forms a great feedback loop that can quickly become addicting. There really isn’t much of a story to speak of. There’s an intro cutscene and a main questline that your character just seems randomly dropped into and I had to read the first game’s Wikipedia page to know why any of the characters were signifcant. The game is clearly more interested in decking you out with a wide array of loot and armor, arming you with spells and abilities, and sending you off to clobber a whole bunch of guys with your pet alpaca. Yep. You can have a pet alpaca. It’s awesome.
Out of the two, I’d have to say that I’m enjoying Torchlight II more, possibly because I haven’t gotten far enough into it to find any real flaws. Still, I’d highly recommend either of them to anyone with even an inkling of an interest in them.
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