Titan Quest is an ARPG steeped in Greco-Roman mythology, set in mythological times, when gods, titans and monsters all roamed the Earth, waiting for a hero… a hero who was brave enough to click on them… repeatedly.
ARPGs are problematic for us weekend warriors. A bad one is little more than an exercise in carpal-tunnel self-flagellation, but a good one can destroy every free minute of your day. Where does Titan Quest sit on this scale? Towards the time-destroying end, for good or for ill.
The story goes that Zeus and the other gods imprisoned the Titans long ago, but now they’ve broken out… But nobody plays ARPGs for the storyline; they’re generally terribly irrelevant hero’s journeys with nothing in the way of choice or consequence.
The writing and the dialogue as perfectly acceptable, and perfectly ignorable. Game writing tends to only stick in the mind if it’s either fantastic or horrible, so you can be assured that Titan Quest’s writing will take up none of your precious mental real estate. Someone will give you a spiel and a quest, and you can safely ignore the spiel, sure in your knowledge that if you explore every nook and cranny you’ll inevitably complete the quest without any particular effort.
[I realise as I write this that ‘ARPG’ is probably a better descriptor for games like Dark Souls where the gameplay revolves around skill, practice and reflexes, with the RPG elements working to tie everything together and provide another layer of complexity to the game. The games that we call Action-RPGs tend to involve more clicking and ever-increasing numbers than actual action.]
Beauty is in the eye of the beholder, said some wise guy at some point in the past, and to me Titan Quest is beautiful. The change in setting from the largely England-inspired fantasy forests and dungeons to nearby Greece gave the designers a chance to use warmer colours, different foliage, and a wholly different cast of monsters to Blizzard’s opus. It might not seem like a very important thing to mention, but as someone who is largely sick of traditional fantasy, it was subtle elements like these in the design of the game that helped me to get engrossed in it.
Titan Quest doesn’t have character classes per se, instead, when you reach Level 1 you get to choose a Skill Mastery – Defense, Earth, Hunting, Nature, Rogue, Spirit, Storm or Warfare. These all more or less line up with the kinds of character class you would expect – Nature = Druid, Spirit = Necromancer, Rogue = Rogue, etc – but then things get interesting at Level 8, when you get to choose a second Skill Mastery. There is no restriction in place, so you can choose to either compliment your first choice (For instance, I went Nature and then Spirit as both Masteries increase and rely upon Dexterity and Intelligence), or you can pick something entirely different to balance out the weaknesses of your first choice.
It’s not as complex as multi-classing in D&D, but it does give you a chance to use the skills and spells of two different classes on the one playthrough, and helps to spice the game up again just as you are getting used to your initial class.
The server browser is a bit of a wasteland this long after the game’s release, but hosting and joining games is simple, and the difficulty scales nicely with more players.
Titan Quest doesn’t innovate in any noticeable way, but it emulates the flawless Blizzard formula well enough that you won’t care. If Diablo and Torchlight never really took your fancy, Titan Quest isn’t going to change your mind about ARPGs, but if you’ve played those mainstays of the genre to death and want something else, Titan Quest will repeatedly click you in all the right places.