Guest author: Alex Orona
Torchlight is a popular isometric action RPG series that has gained a cult following since its inception in the days of the Xbox 360. Now with a long awaited new entry into the series, we revisit the world to wander the procedurally generated dungeons that have been a staple of the series. This outing comes with new online multiplayer co-op features in an always online world as well as new classes to try out.
Torchlight III’s began its life as Torchlight Frontiers MMO but has since been rebranded as this game, and brings with it a fully online world with a multiplayer co-op component for friendly team ups. There are new classes as well– the Dusk Mage, a magic user, a Sharpshooter archer, the Railmaster, a melee focused class that comes with a pet battle train that fights along tracks you’ll be able to lay down to reach your foes, and the Forged, a robot tank with fiery combat abilities. Along with each class comes two skill trees plus the option to select from five relics based on the elements to give a third skill tree that deepens the combat experience. Top down isometric combat is the name of the game with abilities on cooldowns and a choice of owl, dog or cat pet to assist with damage and carrying equipment.
The character and pet customization is varied with tons of options from hair and color to different builds in the skill trees, gear giving buffs to elemental damage, pets with equippable auras and a new addition, your own personal fort. Each character gets their own fort to customize, unlocking new features and designs along the way. While a fun addition, it doesn’t add much to the gameplay except placing upgrade stations to unlock further elemental defenses on your character and having a shared chest to send gear to other characters.
In classic dungeon crawler fashion, the combat is what feels best here. Seeing damage numbers pop off with each new ability as massive amounts of enemies swarmed the screen is extremely satisfying. Unfortunately, it’s a feat that the Nintendo Switch’s hardware proved incapable of handling as frame rates dropped to a crawl until the action had subsided. Along with that, aiming with the Joy-Con sticks felt inaccurate and clunky. Still, I found the combat mindless but enjoyable all the same. Torchlight III’s storytelling suffers on Switch and in general, too, with a story relayed through voice acted clips that would cut in and out if anything happened on screen that interrupted the audio. Surprisingly, there was no subtitle option to be found in any settings menu, meaning that those audio logs were lost to the annals of time as I continued my destruction fest from quest to quest.
Each character feels vastly different with their abilities and each relic vastly changes how you equip gear and play your character. I found this customization a breath of fresh air, as I could see myself playing as a different class with the same relic and have an entirely different gameplay experience. One slight change and the strategy is completely different, which opens up the door for more subsequent playthroughs. This also includes multiple difficulties bringing new tiers of loot, hidden and often randomized bosses that appear, and new pets to unlock. Another new addition is a new contract system which acts like a battle pass. These have tiers of loot, crafting materials, decorative items and overall unlocks that are obtained by defeating more and more bosses for a “fame” currency. This keeps the game fresh, even with new replays, and these contracts reset on a timer, meaning players better get grinding for those limited time unlocks.
The battle pass and constant hunt for loot is what drives the series, constantly making damage numbers go higher and in this case I found it a perfect “podcast” or “watch TV” game. It’s great for casually grinding out bosses while engaging with another form of media. Unfortunately when looking closer at it, Torchlight III comes with inconsistent audio transitions between areas with cuts feeling jarring. The world is clean and colorful with a wide variety of environments to explore but the map can be confusing to navigate with the procedurally generated maps making it easy to get lost. The font doesn’t do it any favors either with hard to read text and menus on the small Switch screen as well as in docked mode.
Torchlight III for the Nintendo Switch brings the classic dungeon crawling to your handheld, which should be perfect for on the go grinding. Unfortunately with this new format comes the limitations of chugging frame rates, occasional missing equipment artwork and hard to read menus. It’s a fun experience for those fans of the genre but feels half-baked with missing quality of life changes. Considering it has a focus on online multiplayer with an inclusion of a battle pass, expect future updates and changes that will hopefully bring these needed quality of life adjustments. This game is good, but could use some more time in the oven.
Torchlight III for Nintendo Switch is available now.
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