Torchlight III Review
The newest title in the blockbuster ARPG franchise, Torchlight III aims to continue the outstanding legacy of its predecessors. When the first Torchlight game was released back in 2009, it gained infamy for being an accessible and affordable alternative, especially for casual gamers, the more in-depth top-down ARPG titles such as Diablo. With a much brighter aesthetic and relatively light-hearted lore, Torchlight carved out a very real section of the ARPG looter genre. Already enjoying one strong sequel in Torchlight II, all eyes have turned to the third installment to carry the torch (pun intended). Let’s dive right in and see how bright it burns!
Two Steps Forward, One Back
When going through any game for the first time, there are two key aspects that I keep in the back of my mind. The first is the absolute experience: am I having fun, what features do I like/am I making the most out of, and vice versa. The second aspect is the relative experience: how does this aspect compare to another game’s, what additional features are present/lacking, etc. By both isolating the game for its own merit and widening the lens to compare with the market, we get the best picture of the quality and value of a given game.
Sadly, Torchlight III falls short in both of these arenas, but certainly one more than the other. It’s absolute experience is not too bad at all, and if this was the first game in a new franchise, with neither Torchlight I & II in existence, it might make a much better impression. While the game progression timing is not the most comfortable, and both the classes and monsters feel almost lazy, I fully believe this is due to the comparison with games like Diablo 3 and Path of Exile. Unfortunately for this game, we cannot reverse time to a world where those games do not exist and the developers must have known it would be measured against the very franchises it originally sought to dethrone.
In The Shadow Of Giants
While the comparison of Torchlight III to its competitors might be what exposes many of its flaws, they are a very valid part of the conversation. ARPGs are known for starting slow, with heroes using shoddy equipment and very few abilities and then building to a powerful destructive force that swipes minions aside with ease. This growing strength and the unlocking of new abilities that work together for massive combos is what provides such a sense of accomplishment for players. Torchlight III misses the mark a little bit as equipment does not seem to have the same impact and game-changing synergy that games like D3 and PoE focus on so centrally, because that’s what players want.
The endgame attempts to do provide replayability with its Enchanting features and Fazeer’s Dun’djinn, which empowers gear slightly and provides randomized dungeon with a variety of modifiers. However, it is very much a case of too little, too late. These features do not do nearly enough to counteract the poor power curve and resulting tedious gameplay. While the building blocks of a solid ARPG are there, namely top-down map exploration, gear looting and mass monster-slaying with a range of unique classes, there really isn’t anything here to draw you away from any existing titles. To me, it almost feels like the game itself was either released too early or focused too tightly on the vision of remaining accessible to the casual gamer, while losing track of the ingenuity that gave the series its initial success.
At the end of the day, Torchlight III is not a bad game, it just doesn’t have a hook of its own. If you are a die-hard Torchlight fan who has played out all the other big-name RPGs, you may want to consider playing this game as a stop-gap measure before you discover the next truly great game. Otherwise, I would recommend dusting off Torchlight II or giving a new ARPG franchise a try.