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Torchlight III Review

Torchlight III Review
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When the original Torchlight launched back in 2009, there wasn’t really a lot of competition in the ARPG world. You had Diablo, and if we’re being completely brutal, that was it really. So Torchlight coming along was a breath of fresh air. Today, though, the ARPG landscape is a different beast. Not only is Diablo’s heart still beating, but Path of Exile has risen to the top of the tree, Warhammer 40K has dabbled in the genre with Inquisitor, and so did Darksiders with dungeon-crawling spin-off, Genesis. Heck, even Minecraft entered the arena with the great Minecraft Dungeons. But after an eight-year hiatus, the question is, can Torchlight compete?

Like any good ARPG worth its weight, Torchlight 3 has a bit of everything for everyone. On the one hand, there’s your traditional single-player experience, fresh with a story that's about as gripping as watching paint dry. Okay, that might be slightly harsh, but the reason you soldier on through the game’s campaign is not to see the climax of the story, that’s for sure. In fact, if you asked me to sum it up, I’d struggle. Not because I wasn’t paying attention – I mean I was trying – but more down to the fact that it just isn’t all that interesting. And then on the other hand, you can play with your friends. To put the latter into context, when Torchlight 2 came out, its big addition was online co-op. My, how time flies!


Home is where the fort is.

Let’s be honest, though – the real reason people (well, me, anyway) plays a good ARPG is down to the gameplay loops. Use powers, smash lots of enemies, collect loads of loot; rinse and repeat. If an ARPG can nail that, they it's on the right track, and thankfully, Torchlight III does successfully do that. With loads of loot, a good drop rate, and plenty of customisation for your character (visual and stat-based), what we’ve got here is a game with a solid foundation. I did, however, find it odd that there are only four loot levels (grey, green, blue and orange) in the game, meaning it doesn’t quite nail the loot drop loop. With Legendary items being incredibly rare – like they should be – the wait for really cool loot is perhaps a tad too lengthy.

Torchlight 3’s issues, one could argue, lie in the scope of the character classes and their abilities. Or, should I say, a lack of scope. Players accustomed to Path of Exile will know the satisfaction of creating a build – an unstoppable force that can just tank through levels without a care in the world. Torchlight 3 doesn’t do that, quite often you’ll just rely on a few powers, ones you're able to make slightly more powerful as you level up. You never get that moment when there are hordes of enemies on screen and you’re just chunking through them, perhaps because at the best of times the frame-rate can’t really cope, but it does mean that the game can get a bit repetitive. And by a bit, I mean a lot. After 10-hours or so, I found myself just going through the motions, not for love of the game, but rather, as if I was in a trance.

That’s before we even talk about the endgame, too, which like its forebear is incredibly repetitive. And yes, I know, ARPGS are inherently repetitive by nature, but it’s the lack of real on-screen, tangible growth throughout that means the gameplay very rarely changes. You never get that feeling of being a complete badass, which is an essential component of an ARPG.

Instead of ramping up the intensity – I mean it does, but in minimal increments, as opposed to large jumps – new developer, Echtra Games, opted to try and mix it up throughout the game’s campaign with what I will call 'incredibly massive inconveniences'. Levels that periodically zap you and enemies that can block your abilities are moves from Echtra that serve only to infuriate and taint the experience. Credit where credit is due, though, there's a ton of bosses and variety throughout, which is certainly one of Torchlight 3’s strong points.


Torchlight 3 can look quite lush, at times.

The big problem with Torchlight’s return, is that since the last instalment, a lot of games have come along and nailed the ARPG genre and improved upon the formula, but Torchlight 3 offers little innovation. I say little, because being able to create your own fort and populate it with loads of storage options and crafting tools (and much more) is actually a really cool addition. Having somewhere like that to return to and improve is a solid addition to the Torchlight franchise.

Torchlight 3 isn't a bad game – far from it. It’s a perfectly fine gaming experience that doesn’t do very much wrong, but then doesn’t do very much right either. It’s very middle of the road as far as ARPG games go. It also doesn't help matters when the game is remarkably rough around the edges and very buggy. Throughout my playthrough, legendary items went missing from storage, my mage’s special meter bugged out meaning I could never use it unless I restarted the game, bosses failed to spawn, I had numerous crashes, and had to put up with some dodgy frame-rates and weird graphical bugs that obscured the whole screen behind a single block colour. So yeah, not great at all. What is great, though, are the game’s loading times, which are lightning fast.

Here’s the thing, though, Torchlight 3 isn’t a bad game; it’s just not a particularly great one. It’s enjoyable in short doses, incredibly repetitive, but I'm completely sure that there’s a good game in here somewhere. Sure, some design decisions are… interesting to say the least, but the foundations are here for a solid ARPG. It’s just a shame that Echtra Games doesn’t really do a lot with those foundations. Torchlight 3 is not a Diablo killer or even a Path of Exile killer, but it can be fun, if only for a few hours at a time.

 

The music and the acting is fine. Everything is fine. Fine!

One of the things that I always liked about the Torchlight franchise was its art-style, and the third entry in the series is no different. It’s a very pretty game, let down only by some graphical issues, like the dodgy frame-rate.

Super simple to use and really responsive, Torchlight 3 is a decent enough ARPG when it comes to playability. No real complaints here.

An incredibly repetitive experience, truth be told. Torchlight 3 starts out fun but never gets out of the first gear.

There’s grind and there’s GRIND. Torchlight’s achievements are unnecessarily grindy. Kill 1 million monsters (I had 1% after a full run through), level up each of the four characters to level 60 (by the time I finished on my character, post-game, that one character was level 47). It’s just not going to be fun chasing after these and you’ll be bored long before you get even halfway. Heck, that’s if they even unlock… after sacrificing 500 items to earn one of the achievements, it didn’t even unlock!

Torchlight 3 is, by the very definition of the word, okay. It’s a perfectly serviceable ARPG that is just fine. It’s kind of fun, but gets repetitive rather quickly. And while Echtra's ARPG effort looks really pretty, it’s completely middle of the road stuff.

 
 
 
Game Info
Developer:
Echtra Inc
Genre:

Release:

US October 13, 2020

Price: $39.99USD
Collection:4
Wishlist:7
 
 
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