Torchlight III, much like the two earlier entries in the series, is a lighthearted ARPG dungeon crawler by Echtra Games and Perfect World Entertainment. Torchlight III takes place a century after Torchlight 2, and the Ember Empire is now in decline. Players must help defend Novastraia against the Netherim, building forts and finding fame, glory, and legendary weapons along the way. The game keeps the same sense of humor and adventure that characterized the first two titles, and that charm is perhaps its greatest strength since it gives the game a real sense of personality and life that can often be missing in indie dungeon crawlers.
The art style of Torchlight III is quirky and fun, and the voice acting cast does a solid job of complementing the art and really helping the characters feel fun. They’re a bit flat, as most exist to give you quests and don’t really participate in dialogue otherwise, but you don’t need them to do more. The game is more about the adventure and fun than about deep characterization and character driven storytelling, after all. The animations are smooth and the pets are entertaining as they follow you around the game world. In fact, the pets have more personality than some of the NPCs, but that makes sense given the amount of time you spend with your pet is far higher than that of a city guard.
Torchlight III spent a decent amount of time in Steam Early Access while Echtra Games and players worked to make the full game as smooth as possible. That work can be seen early on as the game’s UI, character creation, and hints system are nearly seamless. Like its predecessors, it’s a cute fun game with enough stakes to keep you invested without being overwhelming or ruining the friendly tone of the art, dialogue, and gameplay. The balance between personal account-based forts and shared towns and play areas allow you to feel a sense of comradery with other players. The new Fort system meshes well with series staples like the 4-player coop and pet system.
The Fort system is perhaps the flagship difference between Torchlight III and Torchlight. Each player can design and customize their own Fort, with plenty of options available from the start. While some of the fancier objects do require the player to unlock or purchase them, the starting list of Fort options is pretty impressive. Not only can you decorate the Fort and display your trophies, you can also use your Fort for storage and as a way to quick-change a full weapon loadout. Your Fort can also provide bonuses across all of your characters, and can be used to share items between various characters since the Fort is account-wide. It also provides access to Fazeer Shah’s Dun-Djinn, which is part of the end-game system.
The Fort system is also incredibly helpful if you decide to play with the perma-death option on. It allows you to carry over items between characters so that you’ll have a better chance of surviving considering you only have one life to live before starting over again from scratch.
The rest of Torchlight III feels like a solid continuation of the second game, where it’s easy to pick up but you have so many different ways to customize your character builds that it allows for some surprisingly deep gameplay meta at the same time. The Fort bonuses and weapon loadout options just help augment that, so you really can experiment to find the best way to play across various different characters and classes. The pet system is a series mainstay and continues to be a really fun aspect of gameplay, as each pet functions differently and you can find some exciting synergies. The pacing of the game is also quick but satisfying, as you can progress through it relatively quickly, but you still feel like you’ve earned it as you come across bosses every 20-minutes. And some of those boss encounters are far harder than the graphics and lighthearted tone would have you believe.
Essentially, Torchlight III is what you make of it. You can play solo or with up to three other friends. You can play it through once, you can play as multiple different classes, you can try new pets every time you unlock one, or you can stick with one that works. And there aren’t really any points in gameplay where there’s an “optimized” build and some just don’t work. The freedom of how to play and how to progress allows you to just sit back and enjoy the game. And that’s something that you can’t really discount.