Perfect World Entertainment recently invited members of the press to San Francisco’s Folsom Street Foundry, an event venue with a suitably gritty industrial sort of aesthetic and is frequently home to competitive gaming events and showcases.
Here, the Chinese game developer and publisher offered some hands-on time with action role-playing game, Torchlight II and Remnant: from the Ashes, a third-person survival-action shooter, both of which are on the way by Q3 this year.
Most of the lower floor of the venue was sectioned off for the demo stations and lounge areas to play both games, with access to the bar and lounge seating (particularly to fire up Torchlight II on the Nintendo Switch). Hanging banners marked the location for each of the games and added more visual flair above and beyond the colored lighting in the relatively intimate-feeling space.
Leading into the main event area for the showcase was the check-in table, interview stations and a swag table with branded items, like etched leather-styled notebooks, knit hats, and so on.
All in all, it was an impressive production by Perfect World and the company’s partners. Let’s call the presentation and frills the appetizer, but let’s dive into the meat and potatoes of the showcase: the games.
The classic isometric action-RPG Torchlight II (from the now-shuttered Runic Games studio) is approaching seven years of age. The game likely brings back fond memories for many virtual adventurers and role-players. Heck, many PC gamers still play Torchlight I and II to this day.
But now, console gamers are about to get a taste of the action, thanks to Panic Button Games, a developer who has a track record for solid Nintendo Switch adaptations of technically-demanding games like DOOM, Wolfenstein 2: The New Colossus, among other ports. And, of all the Torchlight II ports to make their way to the console, the port to the Switch is the toughest — and it’s the version I had the opportunity to try with the docked (television mode) version of the game on a premium Switch controller, which arguably makes it the most interesting conversion.
Thanks to a streamlined user interface and console controls, Torchlight II feels like a game that is eminently “approachable,” which is the word that sat in the forefront of my mind when first jumping in to the game. Menus, maps, and options layouts are clean and simple and don’t clutter the screen, which for a Switch game is important since there are usually fewer pixels to play with.
In Torchlight II, there are four character classes to pick from, with customizable features and skillsets. I feel like I may have jumped into the game in the most accessible way possible, selecting the melee-friendly berserker-class character (seen in the YouTube video below). While, of course, there are many quests to take up, many subtle ways to fine-tune your character stats and gear, the game is, at it’s heart, an open world dungeon crawler with hack-and-slash gameplay, which suits it well for console conversion. Torchlight II can be as complicated or as simple as the player wants it to be.
While Torchlight II can be played solo or co-op online with up to four players, I only explored the solo mode. I imagine the game would be even more intense with up to four players, but I’d be curious to see how well the Switch hardware could keep pace.
Visually, the particle and lighting effects and mobs keep Torchlight II’s action periodically intense and visually interesting to, at times, approaching beautiful. But in the preview build at least, all that action all at once kicked the frame rate down at certain times. The audio effects and music are also clean and atmospheric, suiting the various moods and moments of the game well, but the tunes are not something you’d look to play outside the game.
I also tried out Torchlight II in the mobile version of the Switch. It’s in that mode where the more streamlined UI really shines, appearing crisp and easy-to-use on the smaller 720p display. The action can be a little harder to follow, because of the action-packed into every corner of that screen, but it still is nearly as playable in that regard as the big screen Switch version.
Before I forget to mention it, exclusive pets are being brought to the table for each console version. Yapper from Torchlight Frontiers is bundled with any pre-purchase of the game for any console, while the Faerie comes with the PlayStation 4 purchase; the Molten Imp comes with the XBOX One game purchase; and last but not least a mystery unannounced pet for the Switch when buying the game.
If you’ve been wanting to play a Diablo-esque game with plenty of replayability, at least in my opinion of the preview, Torchlight II looks like it will deliver an adventurous blast from the past for this current generation of consoles. But I’m still crossing my fingers the Switch version is optimized a little more before launch.
The $19.99 price point should make the game approachable for a wider variety of gamers, too. Torchlight II arrives on the Switch, XBOX One, and PlayStation 4 on September 3rd.
To read about the Remnant: From the Ashes game preview, continue to the next page!