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Torchlight III

Torchlight III is perhaps the most casual ARPG I’ve played yet.

I know there’s a lot of baggage around the word “casual” but I assure you, I use the term in the nicest way possible. Torchlight III is very, very relaxed – both in pacing and difficulty – and given how tired I am right now, that’s exactly what I’m looking for in a game. Low stakes, low pressure, numbers going up and pretty colours? That’s me sorted, thankingyouverymuch.

I can understand how, perhaps, this would be disappointing to anyone seeking a deeper, more challenging, number juggling, ARPG. Torchlight III is very not that game. Essentially, it’s a game where you tootle around mazes using every single button available in order to flash lights at goblins and robots whilst making some numbers go up.

Probably the most usual view of Torchlight III, the player surrounded by a glowing light, a sigil on the floor also glowing beneath them. Text pops off enemies who are also surrounded by their own glow. Loot and corpses abound. It's all really cartoony and kid friendly despite the somewhat grim description.

The numbers do rather tend to go up slowly, mind.

Sometimes it’s a grind (hello ‘contracts’ which operate similar to how battle/season passes tend to except no extra money changes hands) but for the most part it’s just numbers going up slowly because the game just isn’t in any sort of hurry.

I’ve been playing (and completely failing to enjoy) a bunch of roguelikes recently where the games really feel stingy, progress gated and slowed just because. Often progress being in tiny increments, if any is made at all.

Thank Molyneux I never once got that vibe from Torchlight III because, frankly, it does my noggin in trying to wade through that sort of game. No, no, Torchlight III is just an amble, a meander, a stroll. Perhaps it’s a result of its roots as a repurposed F2P game, I don’t know. Either way, it’s chill and far from a furious button smashfest to get the next skillpoint as soon as possible.

(I skillfully negotiated around the problems with contracts by ignoring them entirely, because I can)

It's a screenshot from Torchlight III, it's a manky metal dungeon with a steampunk brown and off green/grey look. It's not very complimentary but there is a big fight going on so not all is lost.

Contracts are one of a handful of ways that, compared to its predecessors, Torchlight III is a tad rough around the edges.

You wouldn’t know it from the screenshots because visually, the game is absolutely gorgeous at just about every turn! Whilst the new Diablo looks to be asking the question “what would my depression play like?”, Torchlight III goes all in on colours in a far more cartoon-inspired fantasy world. It’s all the stuff I liked about Torchlight II’s art but better.

But yes, try and navigate its menus and map, browse the inventory and, well, move around in game and the rough edges are quite unavoidable. It’s not bad, really it isn’t. I think it’s genuinely all the more jarring precisely because the art is so good. It looks like there shouldn’t be any jank whatsoever so encountering any feels even more wrong than it would in a clunky looking game.

Largely, I’m having a great time with it and couldn’t care less. That’s the important bit.

A screenshot from the game Torchlight III. It's a stone dungeon with gold leaf motifs on the floor. There's a fight giving on and some glowing loot dropped in one spot, criminally not picked up already by the player.

And yes, there’s vestiges of what a F2P Torchlight would have been still present. The fort you’re tasked with filling up from pretty early on is the stuff of a thousand and one free to play towns, encampments or whatever. Arrange it how you’d like, pump resources in to get resources back out, complete with wait timers. Craft stuff, arrange it how you’d like, pump resources in … you get the picture.

Just, the wait timers are negligible. They barely run for longer than it takes you to click off the thing you’re waiting for. So so obviously the kind of thing where it would have been too much work to remove these systems from the game so instead they’re rendered as unobtrusive and innocuous as possible. They’re just not a problem in the slightest, if I’m honest. They’re just sort of there and *shrugs* okay, whatever.

A screenshot from the game Torchlight III. It's a top down view of a forest with some sort of fight happening in one spot.

For all my incredibly minor grumbles, Torchlight III hits the spot. Hitting things is exactly as trancelike and reflexive as I’m after, I’m suitably showered in coins and loot whilst playing and numbers keep going up.

I never used to but these days I really like numbers going up, they give me something pointless to concentrate on in these tumultuous times.

Sometimes, if I’m feeling a bit cheeky, I make one number go down whilst another one goes up. Strategy, mate. Strategy.

But seriously, I tend to play an ARPG as a tidying up simulator. Break everything breakable, explore every corner of the map, collect every treasure, hit everything until it goes away and eventually, I have a nice, clean, map that’s free of anything interactive except maybe a few traps I can’t do anything about. Then, I do it again.

Torchlight III lets me do that, albeit much, much, much more slowly than most other games. It’s a pace I have no objections to and the hitting things is good.

That makes it alright in my book, you know?

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