Dark Days: Torchlight II Opening Goes Bleak

Giant armor monster demon used Big Bad status. It's super effective!
It’s the weekend. I should have a perpetual grin plastered across my face as I skip down the street with cartoon birds fluttering in my wake. Instead, I’m feeling a bit like finding a corner with a shadow that’ll cover my face just so and gazing wistfully out a window. The cartoon birds are still invited, but this isn’t really their scene, you know? And who, pray tell, de-springed my step? Why, that’d be Runic, purveyor of whimsical hack ‘n’ slash rainbow adventures and opening cut-scenes that kill everyone – in lavish, faded-parchment-style 2D, no less, but my point still stands. At any rate, this new villain apparently packs quite the punch. Watch as he politely introduces himself – and then, somewhat rudely, does that whole murder thing – after the break.

Torchlight II still has no release date, but I sort of narrowed it down a little when I recently spoke with Runic CEO Max Schaefer. In the meantime, though, a certain hack ‘n’ slash hellion is cracking his nightmare domain’s gates wide open this weekend. I was going to check it out, but apparently that’s also not my cartoon birds’ scene. Little jerks ruin everything.


  1. Kollega says:

    Does that cutscene remind anyone else of Shank? Because it sure does to me.

    • googoogjoob says:

      it reminds me of clone wars, which is of course by the same people as samurai jack

      and shank’s cutscenes were very very heavily reminiscent of samurai jack

      so, sort of

      • Czechton says:

        I was also about to say this reminds me very much of Genndy Tartakovsky’s work.

        • Maxheadroom says:

          Exactly. Pretty much had the theme tune to Samurai Jack playing in my head while watching that :)

        • Baresark says:

          It’s a damn shame Tartakovsky moved on from Samurai Jack, easily one of the best shows made, IMO.

    • Navagon says:

      Art style, animation and even colour scheme were all very familiar, yes.

    • Thermal Ions says:

      Precisely. My son even asked if it was a new video for Shank when he saw me watching it.

      I suppose it’s better than having nothing new out and about, but barely.

    • JB says:

      There’s a good reason for the Shank likeness. From the YouTube page: “The cinematic was produced in collaboration with the wonderful people at Klei Entertainment ( http://kleientertainment.com ).”

      • Telzis says:

        The trailer made me imagine a crossover of Shank and Torchlight, where you side-scroll through ancient temples and caves to find new chainsaws and shotguns with fancier colours. It would be called a dungeon brawler.

        • Strand says:

          While the following game doesn’t fit all of your criteria, it’s nonetheless the first thing I thought of after reading your post:

          link to dungeonblitz.com

          Simplistic, but highly enjoyable. And I really dig the art style.

      • Xocrates says:

        Aye, I wondered about that when I first saw it, and was not surprised that to be the case.

        I kept hoping Shank would show up and chainsawed someone to death though.

  2. KauhuK says:

    The funny thing about the Diablo 3 stress test “open beta” is that it’s only on US servers. No Europe beta test. As the single player is also affected by latency it might lag at times. I have a bit of mixed feelings about Diablo 3 for now. I hope there will be a demo for Torchlight 2.

    • pkt-zer0 says:

      For me, it’s been responsive and mostly lag-free even with 200ms latency, so that’s pretty good. (Had two minor lag spikes in the span of 5 hours, it’s smooth otherwise.)

    • Avish says:

      That explaind all the “Connection severed” I get when playing D3 beta. It’s a shame, because I quite enjoy the game and atmosphere, but I don’t want to spend 60 euros on a game I might not be able to play whenever I want.

      I also like to see more of Torchlight 2
      More game play footage and a demo would be nice.

    • Thermal Ions says:

      I’ve enjoyed the Diablo 3 gameplay so far, but the implementation is just ridiculous. You’re basically playing a deserted MMO. When I first got online I had a latency of 1700ms, so in other words almost unplayable and definitely not enjoyable. Once the server load dropped, presumably when the US players started calling it a night, I was getting about 250ms, until my net dropped out for a second and now I can’t reconnect. Brings back memories of the same thing happening when playing on a full WoW server. Further reinforces my decision not to buy the game and support this type of thing from Blizzard. It’s unfortunate that enough people will accept it however.

      • Blackcompany says:

        They day I have to measure – or even concern myself – with ping times in order to play a single player game is the day I put a cover over my gaming rig and find another hobby. I will not now, nor ever, pay $60 to rent a game from someone until they see fit to remove the servers from use and worry over ping times in my single player in the process.

        No Diablo III for me.

        • The Malkavian Bear says:

          Thanks you for mentioning this, time to cancel my pre-order.

          • joev says:

            When you find out the procedure for doing that could you share it?

            I’ve a ticket in with Blizzard “Billing” to tell me the procedure to cancel (and get a refund for) my “Pre-Purchase”.

            The fact that the first 2 hours after downloading the beta I couldn’t even log in because they were fixing servers and then have had numerous problems playing because of “server availability” issues (for a Single player game? WTF?) demonstrates a number of things:

            1. Blizzard have learned exactly squat from 6+ years of running WoW.

            2. The fact that you need a stress test in the first place for a game when you have had 6+years of stress test (and pain) from millions of players in running massively multi-scale environments shows just how poor the approach is.

            3. Fundamental design flaw. I’ve no problem with online authentication (for anti-piracy/theft) but the idea of having to have a “server” to run a single player or small party co-op game is ludicrous.

            Apart from which… Having (finally) played a few hours of it, it’s very very boring and extremely vapid. It hasn’t really evolved in any way. It’s (imho) no better (and a lot worse in some respects) than Torchlight I (let alone Torchlight II). Why would I pay Blizzard $60 for something I can buy (I already own) for $15?

            Runic: I’ve always been worried about your slip into 2012 (and the jaws of the Beast) but, as it turns out, that worry is foundless… if Torchlight II was nothing more that Torchlight I with co-op it would already be a better, more engaging and fun experience.

          • RandomGameR says:

            Comments like joev’s comment make me wonder if open betas are really a good idea for any company. They aren’t game demos and this weekend was branded as a server stress test. They also communicated that they were putting artificial caps on their servers to limit the number of players that could log in for specific reasons multiple times during the weekend. Or to put it another way, it was intentional and not their servers having lots of trouble.

            Even still I was able to log in and play through on one character with my boyfriend and we had no hiccups once those caps were lifted. He’s now excited about playing the game with me when it launches.

          • joev says:

            I think you missed my point. I was aware of the stated reasons for the weekend beta. They’re either (a) completely bogus and simply a way to cover up a marketing scheme which has backfired or (b) indicative that Blizzard are largely incompetent.

            Why I say (a): Blizzard have over 6 years (arguably over a decade with battle.net) experience running high scalability platforms for games delivery. The real reason to hold an “open beta” like this is to drum up interest. It’s backfired because the game is somewhat mediocre.

            Why I say (b): Taking what I’ve said about (a), if you have this expertise/experience and have not applied it to Diablo III then that’s downright incompetent.

            Either way, it’s fail.

            None of my friends who have played it thought much of it and we’re all of an age where we grew up with computer gaming (my first game was Pong… the original box you plugged into a TV), meaning Diablo is part of our DNA therefore we were all predisposed towards loving it. As it turned out, quite apart from the technical shortcomings and bad design decisions (vis-a-vis having to play single player game on online servers), as a game we were very disappointed with it.

            We were all pretty much of the opinion that Torchlight I, with co-op would be as good if not better. Therefore: Torchlight II, with that capability and added gravy, will be significantly better as a game experience.

    • ninjapirate says:

      In the end, it *is* a stress test after all, and the US servers are being hammered by players from all over the world – connection issues are to be expected.

      That being said, aside from the hiccups during the first two hours of the open beta, I’ve been having no problems at all. No lag issues (I’m from Europe), no disconnections.

    • Hoaxfish says:

      Well a stress test wouldn’t work in Europe. There’re siestas, and afternoon tea, bottles of wine… nobody is really going to be that stressed.

      • derbefrier says:

        Heh that one made me chuckle. But yeah the first few hours were terrible things are running smooth now and I am having an absolute blast with the open beta. Waiting these few weeks is gonna be torture now

    • Nesetalis says:

      I was able to play the d3 beta for about a total of maybe 3 hours before it decided I didn’t deserve to taste of its fruit any longer.. :P
      Error after error.. was never able to reconnect. I did get one character to lvl 11 though but wasn’t able to try any of the other classes but wizard or whatever its called now.

  3. BenLeng says:

    The german Amazon website puts its release date at the 3rd of july. Make of that what you will.

  4. Tei says:

    The surprising thing to myself is that from Diablo 3, Path of Exile or Torchligh 2, the one that come back in my dreams is Exile. I want to explore that giant tree more that I want to explore a imaginary world.

  5. Mario Figueiredo says:

    Wasn’t very impressed with the video to be honest. It’s just like using real actors footage to advertise a game, only it’s not. We get not a single glimpse at the game’s gameplay or graphics.

    I feel like watching a cleaning product commercial when seeing these things. There’s nothing in them for me.

  6. Blackcompany says:

    Very much looking forward to Torchlight 2. That said…I hate – and I mean absolutely hate – dragging my character round by mouse while tapping hotkeys with my left hand. Wondering, does anyone know whether:

    1. We can remap where the hotkeys are, and
    2. A good gaming mouse you might recommend for these sorts of games?

    If I could, say, play torchlight 2 like a “real PC gamer” and never, ever take my hand off the mouse during combat, I would likely play this game until my second carpel tunnel surgery made me take a break. But spamming my number keys whilst dragging my character round simply doesn’t appeal, no matter how great the game may appear otherwise.

    • Cafinator says:

      You will be able to rebind hotkeys as you like, and if i read you correct then the Razer Naga might suit you? 12 extra buttons in a grid where you hold your thumb, i’m using one now but i’m not sure using the grid mainly for spellcasting would be very comfortable in the long run.

    • Baresark says:

      They actually have a new Naga that is very promising. It’s called the Naga Hex and it doesn’t have as many buttons in the thumb area as the normal Naga, but the buttons are in more distinct locations, making them easier to find without looking, just in case you lose track of where you thumb is at. I was gonna buy one myself when I got the funds. My buddy got one and he loves it.

    • RandomGameR says:

      I have the regular Razer Naga and the b/f has the Razer Naga Epic. We both love them and it would keep you from having to take your hand off of the mouse ever. I’ve not tried the Hex as was mentioned above, but I don’t have too much issue with the buttons on the Naga.

  7. lowprices says:

    While it all looks very nice in a Genndy Tartakosvsky sort of a way, it’s a bit silly to imply that most players will experience Torchlight II’s story as anything other than KILLKILLKILLLOOTKILLLOOTSELLKILLKILLKILLKILLLOOTLOOTLOOTSELLKILLLOOTSELL.

    That’s how I experienced Torchlight, Dungeon Seige 3, and every other Diabloclone I’ve ever played. The only exception I can think of is Borderlands, which eventually figured out that no-one cares about the story, so they may as well just start throwing plenty of jokes in.

    Sadly, also, I have no opinion on Diablo 3, as I’ve tried to download the beta client twice and each time it has crashed and not installed properly. Ah well.

  8. bottleHeD says:

    I have a feeling the villain in TL2 will be our character from the first game.

    • Velvetmeds says:

      That’d be taking the expression “diablo clone” to a whole new level

  9. Keepvogel says:

    Torchlight II had my buy from the moment it was announced. As did Diablo III. However, since I played the Diablo III beta yesterday, the balance has shifted. Rather dramatically. I scratched Diablo III straight off my list.

    Call me a fanboy, with over 200 hours in Torchlight I, but Diablo III seems way to sterile to me. I understand that the atmosphere of the game is supposed to be a whole lot different than what the Torchlight series is trying to achieve, but it felt as if Blizzard has taken the fun out of their game. The visuals and gameplay are great, but so very clean. It did not feel satisfying.

    I also have problems with the development strategy Blizzard seems to take to. Both Starcraft II en Diablo III seem to me to be almost exactly the same as their predecessors, although i know true fans will probably be able to point out all kinds of tiny differences to me. But where are the big innovations? Try something new, reach a new audience, instead of just your fanbase, however strong.

    Of course, the beta only allows you to play the very first few moments in the game, and it might turn out to be better later on. But as of now, ironically, Torchlight II will be the only Diablo-clone I’m going to get.

    • pkt-zer0 says:

      The problem with Blizzard making something radically different instead of SC2 would be that no one else would’ve made an SC2 equivalent, either. Considering that it also popularized eSports outside of South Korea, that could already be seen as expanding their audience.

      Though you could argue for Diablo 3 being somewhat redundant, I suppose.

    • NathanH says:

      Also, the Starcraft 2 campaign is so wildly different from Starcraft 1 and indeed any other RTS I’ve played, so I continue to be puzzled that people can call it “just the same”.

      • jrodman says:

        My impression is no one really seems too taken with the campaign? I’m sure some enjoyed it but it’s almost considered an afterthought, in the way people talk about it, or don’t more often.

        Maybe it’s a reflection of how many of us are online now, versus when Starcraft 1 came out. In Starcraft 1 I was all about the single player campaign, though I don’t believe I ever finished it. In Starcraft 2, I find myself watching replays of pro players and not wanting to play at all.

        • NathanH says:

          It’s a shame if people consider the SC2 campaign as an afterthought, because it is the most well-constructed single-player RTS campaign I’ve ever played. You cannot accuse Blizzard of being sterile and doing nothing new in the SP campaign, it is very interesting and should set a new standard for how RTS campaigns are done.

        • Baresark says:

          I agree about the SC2 campaign with NathanH. It was fantastic and was clearly not an afterthought. One thing you can say about Blizzard is they really don’t release games with portions as an afterthought, many times to it’s detriment for certain people. I loved the SC2 campaign, but I give no fucks about the MP. So for me, it was a shame it took them so long to release it. I also really liked the Diablo 3 campaign from the open beta, but I don’t care about MP at all. So I have lost a lot of interest in the game because it has taken so long for them to turn out a product. I don’t need balancing beyond the SP. I would have been fine with Runes as an item drop. I would never use the RMAH, even if I was so inclined to throw away my money on goods that are not real. The other aspect of Act/Blizz is that they don’t lower the prices of games. I played the entire SC2 SP campaign at my buddies house over the course of a couple of months, but I didn’t have money at the time to buy it. And it’s still a full priced game. I most likely will not be buying Diablo 3 because while it was fun, it was not extraordinary by any stretch of the imagination.

          … I have turned this comment into more than just a agreement… Sorry. I’ll shut up now.

    • UncleLou says:

      I think Diablo 3 is all but sterile, it oozes atmosphere from every pore for me – as opposed to Torchlight, which I enjoyed because of the mechanics, but which felt rather soulless to me. That said, we react differently to different styles, and it’s all just opinions.

      What I really don’t get though is how you can accuse Blizzard of not innovating, and hail Torchlight in the same breath, which is pretty much the cheekiest clone in the video games business right now outside of Gameloft (to the point where TL1 was obviously “inspired” even by the early Diablo 3 footage that was available at the time). There is absolutely zero innovation in TL 2 that I can see, they basically seem to clone a 12 year old game, including the setting. The only thing that is not exactly like Diablo 2 is the style, which is straight out of WoW instead.

      There was never any doubt that I’ll get TL 2 on day one, but Runic seems to get cut an absolutely surprising amount of slack because they’re the underdogs, which seems largely undeserved to me if I just look at the games themselves and their blatant copycat attitude.

  10. Crudzilla says:

    Really looking forward to Torchlight 2, but the Diablo trailers blow this away. Black soul-stone is one of the best cinematics I have ever seen and the angels pouring over the page in the semi 2d original trailer is so epic. Frankly, Runic could never compete here… I hope the game is better than this. Anyone skipping Diablo for torchlight after this open beta is deluded. I’ll be getting both and expecting my money’s worth from each (i.e. much lower expectations for torchlight)

    • SkittleDiddler says:

      Runic doesn’t have access to the millions of dollars it would take to make a series of Blizzard-level cinematics. Besides, basing your opinion of a game’s actual gameplay on the cinematic prowess of its developer is a bit moronic.

      I’m skipping Diablo III and most likely purchasing Torchlight 2 on Day One. I guess that makes me deluded.

      • Crudzilla says:

        Yeah, of course Runic can’t produce the same quality of cinematic on their budget. But even given the much simpler style this opening just seems weak and boring. I was expecting better…

        And when I referred to the open beta I was talking about the game play. Now anyone try out Diablo III, if you like this style of game and have played the open beta it’s hard to deny that Blizzard have polishe this genre to an absolute sheen. The game play is so silky smooth, the visuals so coherent and all the physics make it so visceral.

        So yeah if you have played the beta and are still skipping Diablo III with the intention waiting for torchlight I think you are a little nuts :) They are both going to be great I think but there’s no doubt in my mind which one is going to be better…

  11. bleeters says:

    Well, no worries. I always found that NPC mage lady annoying anyway.

  12. Baggypants says:

    Oi, Murderdude, My loot chest was under that stone pillar, you had better not have damaged my second best Matchlock

  13. Baresark says:

    Torchlight 2 FTW! I am excited about this. I’m glad they added open environments. It’s like the major jump from Diablo 1 to Diablo 2. And at the price tag, it’s a ridiculously good deal. Especially since it’s so much bigger than the first Torchlight.

    I’m not going to compare it with Diablo 3, the only thing similar about them is the fact that most of it is controlled by mouse. They have different atmospheres, different elements completely at this point. Though, they are similar in design, and both will be quite fun. There is no shame in only picking one or the other. But at that price point, I have to Torchlight.

    I will say this, Battle.net is annoying. And their system for accusing people of buying/selling gold is so problematic it’s ridiculous.