Torchlight III has had a somewhat troubled development. With original developer Runic Games, it was tooled as a free-to-play MMO called Torchlight Frontiers. After poor fan and dev reactions, Echtra Games — a team made up of Torchlight and Diablo luminaries — was formed. It acquired the license and rebuilt the project to be more like its predecessors.
After a few months of early access, Torchlight III arrives on PS4 as a solid dungeon crawler that maintains the core experience of the series, while compromising some of the freedom.
The setup is simple. Novastraia is once again up against a Netherim threat and our heroes must convince the forces of good to stand against the tide of evil. Before the all-important task of choosing a companion pet, you have the pick of four classes that cover range, melee, caster, and hybrid roles.
Each class is bursting with character, as is the healthy roster of pets, faithful companions that help you in battle and sell your unwanted gear. It’s fun to trundle around on the rickety wheels of steampunk robot Railmaster, faithful alpaca in tow.
Combat and ability progression remains varied and satisfying. The latest addition to the series is Relic powers, elemental artefacts equipped when creating a character. These add unique movesets that are locked once assigned, adding impetus for multiple playthroughs to experiment with builds. Want to give a robot blood powers? Make your hammer bro a thunder god? You can do all these things and more.
Unfortunately, the core action RPG loop of this threequel almost immediately feels overly familiar and crushingly linear. The cartoonish visuals have never looked better but there just isn't a lot of variety here to set it apart from the now heavily populated genre. After a few hours, it becomes apparent that there just isn’t a lot to do outside the main quest. The first two games had a lot more optional dungeons and general side content than what's on offer here.
Elsewhere, a customizable hub area adds some extra charm, and online multiplayer should liven things up at launch (although servers were a tad quiet during the review period).
This is the same old Torchlight, but somewhat diminished. Classes are full of character and lots of fun to play, while Relic abilities encourage experimentation and significantly change combat. However, there's nothing especially new or exciting about this third instalment.