In amongst the Greek legends - the Centaurs, the Cyclops, the Gorgons - one such tale has thus far gone untold. One man (or woman) who could slay thousands of creatures in the press of a single button; one man (or woman) who could carry two dozen swords, yet still slay unburdened, and that legend is... you.
This is Titan Quest, a "remaster" of an old PS3 and Xbox 360 hack and slash role playing game that never really found all that much fame the first time around. With the back catalogue of its former publisher, THQ, recently having come into the hands of the newly rebranded THQ Nordic, this is just one of several games lined up to get a new lease of life on the current generation of consoles - the last one we took a look at being De Blob 2.
Set in ancient Greece, Titan Quest is a game steeped in history and mythology, albeit one that's light on the story and details. Playing as said unnamed hero, it's up to you to wander around the ancient world, doing what you do best - whacking hundreds of enemies upside the face with your weapon of choice. Like Diablo, and to a much lesser extent, Divinity: Original Sin, this is a game of quests, combat, and loot drops, as you pillage and plunder enemy camps, explore damp caves, and raid ruined fortresses.
However, while it may be remastered, Titan Quest isn't half a game that's rough around the edges. Textures sometimes don't load in on time, fonts are immensely small (and borderline unreadable on an average TV), and the game's whole dialogue system seems rather unusual. Rather than showing you everything the character's saying at once (like the vast majority of games in existence), Titan Quest instead very, very slowly reveals it line by line in a dialogue box - something which frustrates and confuses all at once. As it stands, characters will say just the one chunk of dialogue, and then stop talking, whether they have multiple things to say or not. As the game doesn't automatically move on to the next bit, and there's an obvious way of telling if a character has more than one thing to say, you're left to just prompt and hope they don't start repeating themselves from the top again. It's a really odd system, and again, one you'd think might have been improved for a game that claims to be remastered.
Still, despite the lack of polish, the gameplay underneath has made the jump OK. Probably best described as being a hack and slash, Titan Quest is unusual in that there isn't actually any button mashing here at all. Instead, all you have to do is hold the attack button, and your character will automatically attack everything in sight, like a football fan who's had that few too many drinks on a Friday night. While it certainly makes the game easier, you can't help but feel it might be a little bit counter-productive, as it essentially means the game plays itself. While you're holding attack, your little dude will actually run around the world himself, bouncing from one enemy to the next before bashing them as best he can. With health that automatically restores (albeit slowly) over time, all you really need to do is keep an eye when your health bar gets TOO low, and give him a top up with a handy quick health potion shortcut being located on L1.
As with other similar games, loot drops play their part here too, with bigger and badder enemies dropping bigger and better equipment for you to repurpose on your adventure. With a variety of bonuses and traits on offer, items are colour coded to show their rarity, with those that have several buffs being harder to find. From giving you an armour boost to making your health restore quicker, having the right item can change your get up from sparse to Spartan, and make a huge difference on the field of battle.
There's also a variety of character classes on offer here - or at least, we think there is. When you level up, you're able to go into a skills menu, and choose to spend some points buying your character skills in one of a number of different classes - but what the game fails to tell you is that your decision is final, and whichever class you put your first point into, you'll be locked to. Luckily for us, we seemed to pick one of the better ones - Warfare Mastery - a typical tank-style warrior class that gives us a chance of triggering a special damage boosting mode every time we get hit. However, much like the rest of the game, the user interface needs a lot of work, as you really should have been told that there was no going back.
However, Titan Quest is a game that holds a pretty significant ace up its sleeve - six player online co-op multiplayer. Yeah, you read that right - six players. While lesser games may limit you to an arbitrary four for very little reason, Titan Quest lets you and up to five of your friends go on a quest together - although with no split-screen, it's sadly only online. Letting you play through the entire story together, this isn't a separate co-op mode - it's the whole game proper, only with support for up to six players. As one of only a miniscule list of games we can think of that supports that many players in proper co-op online, that has to be worth something.
In all, then, Titan Quest is a game that has a lot going for it, yet one that has plenty going the other way too. Its six player online co-op mode is really impressive, and something that should definitely put this on the radar of anyone looking for a story driven game to play as a group, but the uninspiring, button holding combat; the lack of polish; and the often unfriendly user interface mean this isn't anywhere near as good as it should have been. If you've got a group of friends together, you'll undoubtedly still have fun with this - just don't go in expecting anything too special.
Format Reviewed: PC