Not Quite Glow ing
Developed by XD Entertainment and Xingdong Network, Torchlight: Infinite is the fourth game in the Torchlight series. However, the dungeon-crawling RPG is a sequel to 2015’s Torchlight 2 rather than a true Torchlight 4. Available on PC, Android and iOS, the game features colorful visuals and appealing character designs. However, its repetitive gameplay and incoherent story hardly inspired me to keep coming back.
XD and Xingdong’s Trouchlight: Infinite actually has relatively little to do with the rest of the Torchlight series. Players take the role of a Hunter, someone infected with the supernatural substance Aember. As a member of Torchlight, Hunters use their powers to battle mutant creatures called Aemberons. Players partner with a young woman named Aria, who can use her magical Light to keep her Hunter’s Aember from overrunning their body. After Aemberons steal an important artifact, Aria and the player embark on a quest to defeat the Aemberon leader Lean.
Torchlight: Infinite is not the best action game released on Android in 2022. Players start by selecting one of five characters, each with a unique Trait that shakes up the gameplay. I chose Frostfire Gemma for my playthrough, a mage class that charges her special abilities using fire and ice attacks. You move your character with your left thumb and can have up to five Skills mapped to the button on their right. Attacks usually lock on automatically as long as the player faces more or less the right direction.
The Skill system itself is somewhat intriguing. In addition to the primary Active and Passive Skills, players can unlock various upgrades to slot in and out freely. This lets players customize their Skills with effects like explosions, multiple projectiles, reduced casting cost and more. However, while Torchlight: Infinite’s skills have significant flexibility, I didn’t feel much pressure to engage deeply with the system. I could get through most battles just by spamming my main attack, occasionally pausing to down a potion.
This ties into a broader problem where Torchlight: Infinite has a lot of complexity with minimal clear impact. Enemies constantly drop new weapons and armor with various modifiers and stat effects. But you can get by just looking at whatever has the green number at the bottom of its description. The upgrades were too marginal to feel significant, and inventory management was tedious. The game also loves throwing currencies and upgrade materials at you without clearly indicating what they’re even for. The menus were also unintuitive and difficult to navigate, which did not help with anything.
Plotting a Waste
The story did not impress me either because I never had a good sense of the stakes. Early in the game, Aemberons attack Torchlight’s base and steal a power source called the Spark. However, even after replaying the game’s opening, I’m still not entirely sure what the Spark does. All I got was the vague idea that it “Pushed back the darkness.” The game never made clear the consequences for losing it or what made it so important in the first place.
The villain, Lean, is also more annoying than he is threatening or hateable. He comes across as the standard, smug “edgy boy” to such a degree that I found him hard to take seriously. He also cheats. More than once, players are moments away from getting the Spark before Lean swoops in to steal it in a cutscene. Our protagonist situation isn’t much better. I quickly noticed that Aria feels more like Torchlight: Infinite’s main character than the PC does. She has all the dialogue and big emotional scenes and makes all the decisions. It’s the player who is Aria’s support NPC.
The rest of Torchlight: Infinite plot wasn’t terrible but never managed to do anything more interesting than string levels together. The story didn’t even always do that well, and I’m still not sure why some things happened or were necessary. Torchlight: Infinite’s story was never offensively bad, but it did nothing to get me invested.
I could have ignored mediocre writing if the gameplay was good enough, but it wasn’t. And when I don’t care about the plot, characters or gameplay, that doesn’t leave much to like about Torchlight: Infinite. Of course, there are worse games, but that’s not exactly a ringing endorsement.
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