I have a bad habit of getting excited when I first begin a game. I praise it’s every step, and trust it’s every choice in my initial rush of excitement at the prospect of a new experience. I go in with bright eyes ready to love everything I see and do. And for the first few hours, I really have a good time. I try to experience what the creators had in mind when they were building their game. I really try to like the game. But slowly, I begin to get bored. One design choice bugs me. And then another. And another. Soon my passionate recommendation from the first few hours of the game has been ground down to apathy.
That’s exactly what happened this week with Torchlight II. After playing the first few hours of the game, I was on board with it. The combat seemed alright, if not what I was used to. It was my first point-and-click ARPG, I just had to get adjusted to it, that’s all. There wasn’t really a story but that was okay. That wasn’t what the developers were interested in exploring. The art was really great. I loved the sharp, right-angled look the characters had. So last week on this blog I recommended the game. I was having a good time, why not?
Now, I’m not so sure I would. The game began to get monotonous. Without a compelling narrative, there was nothing pulling me along except for the promise of higher numbers. Get better loot in order to kill harder bad guys so I can get better loot. The cycle of the gameplay began to wear me down. Without a fleshed-out story or interesting quest lines the one leg the game stands on is its combat and that wasn’t enough to hold it together.
It’s interesting the way the on-screen presentation of player input can affect how that input feels. Along with Torchlight II I’ve been playing The Witcher 2 recently as well, a game I’ve probably praised enough on here. Both games’ controls appear, on the surface, relatively similar. You’ve got basic attacks on left click and more powerful attack assigned to the right. You manage spells, potions, and your inventory in the midst of battle to try and survive encounters with numerous enemies.
The Witcher‘s combat is quick and brutal. Timing and position are key as you maneuver around enemies, block incoming attacks, and dish out damage. It’s gratifying to stand on your fallen enemies knowing you’ve used all your skill and timing to conquer them. Torchlight II doesn’t have that gratification. Instead of feeling like I’m attacking the giant man-eating spider, it feels as if I’m telling my character to attack the giant man-eating spider and then he obliges me by doing it. There’s this small delay between input and action that impacts the connection to the game that I have as a player, and as a result the combat isn’t satisfying. I don’t feel like I bested my enemy on the battlefield. I feel like I recommended it’s death to my character.
So after about six hours, I decided that I was going to take a bit of a break from Torchlight. I plan on returning to it sometime soon, but it’s not the kind of game to get lost in. It’s the kind of game where you turn on your favorite podcast and zone out as you click things to death and make your numbers go up. I know some people look at the endless cycle of loot, and the combat as the main reasons to play the game, but, for me, they just weren’t enough to keep my interest.
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