Libra: Torchlight III (Switch)
Release Date: October 22, 2020
File Size: 6.6GB
Publisher: Perfect World
Developer: Echtra Games
Click here to view on the Nintendo eShop.
Libra is our “first impressions” series. These are generally spoiler free, but may reveal some base plot points and mechanic details.
If you’re not familiar with my previous thoughts on loot-based RPGs, they are, in a sense, contentious. Having looked at two titles previously, I’ve delved into this subgenre with an open mind and a substantial amount of hours. Unfortunately, there are some trends that don’t quite do it for me in the loot-based genre, and though I’ve yet to find the perfect blend of mechanics and features to send me head-over-heels in love, I’m still cautiously optimistic. So imagine my surprise when I was given the opportunity to review Torchlight III, the sequel to a title I had covered previously. Does this new installment manage to rectify the sins of its predecessor, or do new changes end up making things feel a bit less inspired? Read on and find out.
The first thing you’ll note about Torchlight III is that it is more cinematic than the title before it, not only because it railroads players through an opening sequence that allows them to view the spectacle of a goblin attack, but it also has in-engine cutscenes that zoom-in on the character models. These look more detailed than any Torchlight title to date, and the structure and environmental detail of the game does breathe a fair bit of life into what often felt like a somewhat sterile series of landscapes. Foliage, winding paths, and a strong sense of height and depth make the game’s different locales feel more organic, in a sense. The map system and more linear series of challenges you’ll find in the early game feel like a direct result of more detail-oriented design choices, as maps are more narrow and feature less aimless wandering, which is a welcome change.
After choosing one of the four starting classes, each of which plays as a strange amalgamation of more traditional classes that can be customized to fit your personal play style, you’ll be launched right into Torchlight’s narrative. The character creation options don’t feel very substantial this time around, and I hope that this is something the developers intend to improve with later patches and content. The greatest degree of customization you’ll obtain, in terms of aesthetics, at least, is the new outpost feature, which allows you to create and move just about any decorative element you can imagine – grass, stones, tents, crafting stations, and the like. Base-building was never a part of the Torchlight experience, but this in-between area acts as a place to redistribute skill points and invest in ways not typically seen in hub areas.
While the flavor text on display is far, far less than what many Torchlight fans might expect, it also feels a bit shallow, at the same time. There may be more of a healthy balance of this aspect as the game continues, but the initial dialogue and lore does not strike a healthier balance, feeling somewhat anemic, instead. I have never played the Torchlight titles specifically for their lore, but I do appreciate a fleshed-out world in every aspect, not simply aesthetics.
Little of Torchlight II’s dense, screen-filling menu systems have been retained, with iconography being blown up, inventory seemingly reduced, and information filed more comfortably so that it can all be accessed with greater ease. Despite these updates, it also does feel like another strangely jarring transition from the previous game, where skills and skill trees were all featured on a single screen and excessively detailed. Likewise, the reputation menus feel somewhat superfluous, tracking the amount of quests you’ve completed despite there not being a great variety of options in that area. This is something that, again, may change as the campaign progresses, but having all this information exist – and reward the player, atop that – feels more like an artificial means of keeping the player ensconced in the progression loops than something meaningful.
Finally, there’s combat in Torchlight III, which feels a bit slower paced, but far more fair than the previous game, mostly due to how major enemies – the ones that will actually be able to damage you, I mean – tend to telegraph major spells and attacks with substantial windup and hitbox markers. In a game where action can sometimes lack weight and tangible effects, this is a marked improvement, making earth-shattering attacks feel much more manageable via avoidance. There are still so many attack types – on both your end and the mobs that you face – that feel entirely too committal, and kiting remains a fairly reliable and exploitable option thanks to the build versatility for each of the four classes, but it at least feels like a game with more life and heft.
- A visual improvement over the previous installment, while maintaining aesthetic consistency
- Cleaner user interface, for the most part
- Greater focus on telegraphed, avoidable attacks
- Light on story elements
- Limited character creation options
- Combat still feels like more of the same
There’s still more for me to see in Torchlight III, though to be honest, the game’s cyclical rhythm is starting to wear on me already, despite the welcome additions and questionable changes. As I chip away at the storyline and environments, please be on the lookout for my final impressions in the near future. Are any of you playing Torchlight III? Let us know about your experience in the comments below!