Torchlight III marks the third installment of the series. Previously known as Torchlight Frontiers, the game was given a new name and drastic changes were made to make it feel like a true sequel to previous games in the series. Some of these changes included an ACT structure for its story, an Online or Offline mode, the removal of in-game microtransactions, and a premium price tag on the game.
A century has passed after the events of Torchlight II. With the Ember Empire in decline, Novastraia is once again under the threat of invasion and it’s up to you to defend against the Netherim and its allies. Similar to previous games of the series, Torchlight III’s story gives easily ignorable purpose to the dungeon crawling, hack n slash gameplay. It’s not difficult to tell that the game focuses more on its gameplay.
The story is told in three acts with cutscenes that display the evildoers’ objectives, revving you up to take them down. There’s not much more to it, other than listening to the marvelous voices as you progress through the various areas in the game. The cutscenes aren’t memorable either, mostly consisting of still images accompanied by hit voice acting.
Torchlight III returns with the dungeon crawling hack, slash, and loot gameplay fans of the series know and love, but not without the sacrifice of a key component from previous titles. The stat investment mechanic has been dropped and now uses a basic skill point distribution system. The addition of a new relic subclass expands the number of skills at your disposal; more of these skills can be utilized during combat than before. Newcomers choosing the third entry point will suffer from the same lack of newbie user-friendliness the series is known for.
The addition of Forts has spiced up the series, allowing you to have your very own designable base. When you’re not crushing the skulls of your enemies, you can choose to style your Fort with the many decorations the game provides. It’s optional for those who want to distract themselves from the core gameplay, but isn’t pushed onto the players who do not care for it. Anyone with a passion for decorating will absolutely love its addition.
Character customization in the game is limited. You’re provided with the choice between four classes. Even though you’re able to change a character’s appearance, you won’t get far with trying to make them look different than their default design. Some of these designs may not fit everyone’s taste, and the unique classes offered may further limit these options.
Torchlight III is a game that you can create multiple character profiles in. You’re able to change a character’s display name, face, skin tone, and hair color. The options aren’t plentiful, as that’s the extent of the customization offered in the game. Character models are tiny in the game’s overworld, so the importance of their appearance might be minimal. You do have the option of zooming in for a clearer view of your character and any surrounding enemies, but it sacrifices the view of the area around you.
Classes and SubClasses
Railmaster, Forged, Dusk Mage, and Sharpshooter are the four classes you can choose from in Torchlight III. The Railmaster is a class popular with players craving melee combat and has a unique choice of pet catering to its name. The Forged is a strange class where you play as a literal robot; the vessel may not be to everyone’s liking, but what it’s capable of is on the level of a mechanical monster. The Dusk Mage covers the popular spellcaster class for the game while Sharpshooter adds another ranged fighter, this time specializing in physical weapons rather than flashy magic.
The classes in this game may not cater to everyone’s preference, but they’re still capable of utilizing various weapons during their journey. It can help to a certain degree, but you’ll find yourself using skills over the choice of weapon in most situations. Each class has its own set of dedicated skills. The relic subclass system is a global subset of skills you can add on to any class, further expanding the character’s skills. It would have been nice if these skills changed between classes, but they’re still a lot to dig into. One playthrough isn’t sufficient to explore all of the useable skills in the game, heightening the game’s replay value.
Torchlight III’s core gameplay revolves around dungeon crawling where you grab the valuables, slay the monster hordes, and defeat the bosses. There isn’t anything noticeably different in the dungeon crawling compared to other ARPGs. It’s a repetitive cycle that can get boring fast when playing for long periods of time. It goes without saying that you can still have a lot of fun with the game, but there isn’t much to make it stand out and present it as a worthy successor to the previous title (yet).
There’s a map accompanied by a quest list that’s helpful for navigation and it eventually reveals where you must go next. It works, but its flaws lie with its accessibility. There’s no way to open a full map from your inventory, which some might have found useful. Not everyone likes pressing down on their right analog stick, but it’s what must be done to change the map view; it must also be done repeatedly to swap between several options. The best, larger version of the map appears in an overlay at the dead center of the screen. This can be a major distraction when fighting enemies, and you will frequently encounter them along the way. Having a dedicated map screen would have solved so many problems.
Combat and Boss Fights
Combat in this game doesn’t stray too far from its previous title. Using a set of skills and your weapon of choice, you’ll have to fight your way through swarms of enemies. Most enemies won’t do a great deal of damage to you, but occasionally you’ll find some that do. You’ll be forced to dodge attacks from time to time and rely on health potions to replenish health. Getting surrounded by enemies and fighting enchanted foes may be the toughest challenges you’ll face while playing. Some of the main bosses do less damage than you’d expect for someone of their caliber; their minions can sometimes weaken you faster than one of their strikes.
Conquering the mini-bosses plays the same 5 second sound, which is fine the first several times it’s heard, but soon leaves you wondering why it’s played so frequently and why it gets cut off so quickly. It also becomes tiresome seeing the same mini-bosses during your run to the main boss or objective. New enemy faces were needed the most during those critical moments; it feels better to make a run for it rather than fight them repeatedly. The game’s first two easy difficulties may spawn mini bosses less frequently to lower the severity of this, however.
The class and relic system gives you a massive number of active and passive skills to choose from. One character can’t wield them all. You’re given the choice to choose the class that fits your playstyle and the relic you like the most. Choosing wisely is crucial at this point because there’s no way to reverse your decisions. You can, however, make a new character and choose different abilities. This in itself adds tons of replayability to Torchlight III, especially considering its has co-op multiplayer to experience the fun with friends.
The game has a large number of skills to use, but it also has a way for you to utilize the majority your character can possess. One might wonder how this is possible with the limited buttons on a Nintendo Switch controller, but the developers have figured out a way that works. Nine skill slots have been implemented with ease on the console’s controller thanks to a simple press of a button. Naturally, the ABXY and ZR buttons are what you can map your skills to. During combat, you can hold down ZL to use a fresh set of pre-mapped skills to the ABXY buttons. It’s a smart idea to make the combat system work on the Nintendo Switch, but it takes some time to get accustomed to it.
Collecting loot is one of the main aspects of Torchlight III. You’ll often have to sort through your inventory in the game. Your pockets aren’t bottomless, but you can transfer a similar capacity of items to your pet for the purpose of selling. Similar to Torchlight II, you are able to command your pet to travel back to town to exchange the equipment for gold. Doing so frees up your inventory space so you can continue collecting items during your dungeon runs. The bad news is, sometimes your pet may not return and the game does not make it obvious as to why. Returning to your fort and reselecting a traveling companion is the only way to mend this.
Choosing between the best weapons and armor you’ve obtained is a dream come true with how user friendly the game makes it to compare equipment. It takes some exploring between the menus and experimenting with the controls to figure out all you can do, but it’ll only be a matter of time before you catch on to everything. Sadly, you’ll have to find a peaceful area before you can safely dive right into your newly obtained loot. While you’re browsing your valuables, random enemies can actively attack you without your knowledge. There is a minor identifier when this happens, but it can be annoying when the background action isn’t paused when playing solo. It’s understandable why this shouldn’t be in the multiplayer portion of the game, but there’s no reason for the lack of a pause during its single-player counterpart.
There’s nothing better than fighting with a good boy (dog) by your side, or maybe even a feathered friend. There are several pets in the game; three of which are available to choose from at the beginning of your journey. The different color variants make it seem as though the number is more than what it is, and each pet has its own set of skills you can set. Their support is notable and makes the game slightly easier.
Pets function the same as in Torchlight II. You can offload your unused items to them and send them back to town for some extra gold. At your fort, you’ll be able to swap between the pets you’ve gathered throughout your journey. The only thing you won’t be able to do is pet them, which is a feature some animal lovers will surely miss.
New to Torchlight III is the Fort. It’s your very own base you can customize to your liking. You have full control over it; you can physically remove anything in the area and add decor from the large list of items in the game. From the flooring to the walls, there’s a lot you can do to make your fort just the way you want it to be. Arranging the content is simple too. Rotating an object lets you place it at the perfect angle. Everything is visible before it’s placed, so you’ll always be aware of where an object will go. Picking up items is also a piece of cake; just place the cursor over the object and press a button to return it to your inventory.
The controls are easy to use and do the job efficiently. The more you play, the more resources and decorations you’ll obtain. Players who have a soft spot for decorating can lose track of time building up their base to make the perfect stronghold. The Fort isn’t only for show. It has its advantages for the main gameplay as well. There’s a storage container that can be used to store items you’d rather not sell. Statues can be used for quick equipment loadouts for those who prefer having multiple equipment builds at their disposal.
Designing a base solely for your eyes can be boring to some. While you won’t be able to browse fort designs from a dedicated menu, you’ll have the opportunity to visit someone’s fort in person. Once you’ve joined a party, you’ll be able to teleport to any party member’s fort. The same goes for others in the same party as you; they’ll be able to travel directly to your fort. Unfortunately, you won’t be able to visit someone’s fort if they aren’t the same difficulty as you are, so your options are limited.
Torchlight III has a range of difficulty levels for everyone. There’s a total of five difficulties and it’s balanced evenly between casual and hardcore. Those who want to take it up a notch can enable permanent death. The difficulty modes in this game affect how fast enemies move, the damage they deal, and the amount of health they possess. This can make it easier for the hordes of enemies to surround you faster. Slaying them will take longer because of their buffed up health. Additionally, champions spawn more frequently at higher difficulty levels, which can be a double-edged sword; they’re more powerful than the regular small fry, but defeating them rewards you with a generous amount of EXP and enchanted gear.
High risk doesn’t come without high reward. Even though the enemies get tougher, you’ll gain some advantages during your runs. While your character won’t be getting any perks for combat, you’ll get a slightly higher chance of obtaining better gear and potions. The highest difficulty, for example, boosts gear and potion luck by 20%. There’s a good chance of getting something useful with the large number of enemies to slay and places to loot in the game.
Regardless of the difficulty you choose, three options are normally offered upon death (there’s an exception to specific boss battles and challenges). You have the choice to respawn where you died, go back to the entrance of the area, or start again from town. You’ll keep all the loot you’ve acquired and the levels you’ve earned. These choices do not come without their prices. Each will cost a sum of gold in your possession except when choosing to restart from town. Depleting your funds through this method is seemingly impossible, so you’ll likely always raise from the dead right where you were. Even the most difficult of bosses will eventually fall when the angel of death is on your side.
Playing with friends opens up Torchlight III’s true potential. It’s a lot more fun fighting these hordes of enemies in a party of up to four players. It may even be the reason why pressing A on the game’s menu screen leads straight to its multiplayer. Joining a lobby or inviting players to your own party is straightforward, but has a learning curve for newbies. Occasionally navigating to the Social tab can be tiring in situations where you’re having trouble finding players, but it’s not something you won’t grow accustomed to. You’re able to play with both your Nintendo Switch friends and random players who connect to the town at the same time as you do.
Torchlight III’s multiplayer uses the same single-player campaign content and it can be difficult to differentiate between the two. You’ll feel like you’re playing the game by yourself for the most part, until you open up the inventory menu and investigate the social tab. Random players do spawn in your town which can make it obvious, but the majority of the game will often be spent outside of the area. Opening the Social tab from the menu will make it clear how you can connect with other players in the town. Once that obstacle has been cleared, the real fun begins. It is unfortunate how there isn’t a mini tutorial explaining the basics of online play. Some new players to the series may end up halfway through the multiplayer portion of the game without even partying up with other players.
The main issue the game’s multiplayer faces is finding a group of players around the same level as you are with the same set difficulty. If you lack a friend group, you may have to bear with the long waiting periods before finding a group of players to slay monsters with. If the players in your group are significantly higher than you in level, the fun becomes almost nonexistent because the slightest hit can mean certain death. Your teammates may not be too keen on reviving you every time, either. Freeloading EXP off of your party members to level up quickly wouldn’t work either, as EXP is earned based on the player’s achievements. Additionally, if you’ve created a character in the single-player portion of the game, you won’t be able to transfer them over to the multiplayer portion or share the loot. It can be disheartening if you thought otherwise.
There’s no doubt that Torchlight III will provide you with many hours of gameplay. Its character building system allows for multiple builds that can be used to dive into the action as much as you want. The different classes juggle the experience you’ll have by using a different set of fancy skills in each playthrough. There aren’t many classes in the game, but the relic subclass system extends it by making each build seem like its own class.
You don’t have to finish one playthrough to start a new one. The game lets you make as many characters as you’d like to jump into either the single-player gameplay or its multiplayer. Each playthrough will likely give you 15-20 hours of gameplay. As the stages are procedurally generated, multiplayer’s three acts are less of a pain to revisit.
Post Game: Fazeer’s Dun’djinn Challenges
Finishing the main story campaign unlocks Fazeer’s Dun’djinn. You’ll be given several challenges to choose from with the final being a boss fight. What sets this apart from the story campaign is the modifiers you’re able to choose from. You’ll gain an advantage and a setback each time. If you die, you’ll have to start from the beginning again, which makes it slightly tougher than the main campaign of the game.
You’re unfortunately not going to find any new dungeon designs or bosses in this postgame content. Everything you know from the story campaign of the game has a chance of reappearing in Fazeer’s Dun’djinn. The modifiers you choose from takes the spotlight. There’s a decent number of bosses and grunts in the game, but it feels repetitive with the repeated encounters throughout its entirety.
Torchlight III doesn’t seem to be set in stone as of yet. The game is likely to have constant updates over the years and the developers have shown the likeliness with its Halloween content update. October’s Gear n Goblins update, for example, added new legendary gear, three spooky pet variations, scary fort decorations, two new affixes for Fazeer’s Dun’djinn postgame challenges, and the rare Respectacles item. The game is still in its early stages, so there’s room for many more updates like these.
Graphics and Performance
The game scores some points for its wonderful graphics. There’s a good bit of variation between the areas you’ll explore and the enemy designs are all fantastic. The cutscenes are mediocre consisting of mostly still images and don’t help brighten up the game. Combat feels good with the large number of skills at your disposal. Each skill has its own fancy attack style and they look amazing when in use. The combat shines the most when using multiple of these skills at a time to crush the large groups of enemies in your path.
The gameplay runs smoothly in most cases, but Torchlight III is far from perfect with regards to performance. Spawning from a portal or fighting through a screen filled with enemies can sometimes cause several seconds of lag. The game doesn’t always keep up with your pace when moving items from the inventory either. Worst of all, resuming a paused game from the Nintendo Switch’s sleep state can sometimes render your character’s actions useless. The voice acting during story cutscenes can become distorted as well. The game has its fair share of performance hiccups and bugs, but the developers do show interest in resolving them.
Soundtrack and Voice Acting
Torchlight III’s soundtrack is a joy to listen to while playing. It makes you feel as if you’re in the world, destroying the many enemies that get in your way. Using actions, ransacking objects for loot, and breaking things come with their own sound, which adds a nice touch to the gameplay. It works well for a game that heavily focuses on dungeon crawling and fighting hordes of enemies.
Voice acting is in English and it’s excellent. Interacting with an NPC activates their voice dialogue and canceling the text box doesn’t end their speech. It adds to the many little things that make this game great. Listening to them talk while in motion is always nice to listen to. There’s just one boss battle where the talking can get irritating because of the repetitive lines. Her death isn’t the end of her appearance in the game, as there are alternate ways to rechallenge old bosses in this game.
There isn’t much that Torchlight III offers that isn’t found in other ARPGs. The addition of a fort, a new relic subclass system, and the little Fazeer’s Dun’djinn postgame challenges aren’t sufficient to take eyes off of its many problems. Besides its performance issues, gameplay can feel repetitive and get old fast. But there’s still fun to have with the distinctive character builds you can use. Playing the campaign with a group of friends is where the majority of the excitement will be at. Decorating your base is a good distraction for those who have a soft spot for design.
Torchlight III gets a 6/10.