Titan Quest is a PC game set in ancient Greece, which includes all kinds of historical rockstars (Think more Leonidas and less Led Zeppelin) standing about and giving quests to you, the hero of the tale. The Titans are loose from their prison, mythical creatures have invaded the land, and only you can stop them!
The actual plot of Titan Quest is somewhat unclear. You follow quests through ancient Greece without really knowing why, and as the only person who seems capable of doing anything about the problem. The problem? Satyrs, centaurs, harpies, and many other creatures of myth have invaded the world in huge numbers, making life incredibly difficult for everyone. Some of the individual side-quests and NPC dialogue is pretty entertaining, like speaking with Hippias, an elderly Spartan who was separated from his unit, resting on a tree stump surrounded by the corpses of monsters. There’s no need to worry, he says, he’ll rejoin his unit in time. Just stopped for a breather. The game will take you from Sparta to Delphi, Athens, Egypt, Babylon, all the way to the top of Mount Olympus, with the Immortal Throne expansion including a trip to Hades at the end, over a landscape litter with ancient war camps, villages, shipwrecks, and more than a few old Mycenaean ruins.
In gameplay, Titan Quest is essentially a clone of Diablo II. The inventory system, upgrade system, and general look and feel of the game look like they were taken directly from it. Where Titan Quest differs though, and where it shines, is in its Mastery system. Instead of choosing a class at the beginning, the player is given an option to choose a Mastery at level two. These can range from Warfare, which sets the player on the road to pounding on monsters while up close and personal, to similar specialization like Hunting or Defense, but also to magical ones. Earth Master let’s the player through around fireballs Storm Mastery exchanges those for lightning bolts, and Spirit Mastery summons otherworldly creatures to do your bidding. At level eight the player has the option of choosing a second Mastery, putting them in control of creating their own class and talent trees, with a range of dozens of options.
Even barring the fantasy features like magic and gameplay elements such as the portal stones which send you back to towns you’ve visited, and Fountains of Life, which bring you back to life, the historicity of Titan Quest is a little hit or miss. The aesthetic is very good, though typical, featuring plain columns rather than painted ones, but the characters look quite authentic. The map locations read like a greatest hits of the ancient world. The game features many nods to people from history and myth like Leonidas, Chiron and Diomedes, and does its best to offer some representations of the beasts of ancient myth. However, it runs out of satyrs, centaurs, and harpies very early into the game, relying instead on demons, spider people and other hybrids, the undead, and birds the size of rottweilers. In the Immortal Throne expansion, it also represents Hades as some kind of devil or evil overlord, rather than merely as the keeper of the underworld.
All in all, if you’re looking for a romp through the ancient world that also involves hitting things in the face, Titan Quest will give you an excellent adventure chock full of interesting curiosities, ancient tales, and wonderful things to nitpick about.
Also, it’s coming to Labyrinth. You’ll be able follow my adventures as Phillip, an inhabitant of Titan Quest: the Immortal Throne, as he whacks mythical beasts in the face with heavy objects and attempts to recover from his tragic healing potion addiction. You may know Philip from his work as a young man in Athenaze, books one and two, where he is struck blind, and then healed by the gods after a weird snake ritual involving some words I could never quite figure out. He’s all grown up now, and taking some time off by vacationing in beautiful Heliopolis, city of the sun. Watch our Twitter for a links to livestream adventures, and read his journal here starting next week.