There is no doubt a shortage of top-down RPG games on the market and if anything, it is a genre that many studios stay away from. Why may you ask? It could be due to it being a niche genre or the fact that no one has yet been able to beat the likes of Diablo II and Dungeon Siege. Back in 2006 Titan Quest released for PC and it was a Diablo-like-clone of note. The game's setting, deep gear system and classic combat felt true to the genre and I personally spent many weeks in the game. I finished it a few times with different characters and it was one of the best PC games of its day.
Fast forward a few years and we now have Titan Quest being re-released for consoles. While there is a PC version out too, the fact that the game is finally on PS4 and Xbox One is a big deal. If anything, console owners are hungry for traditional top-down RPGs as we have barely anything to choose from. Titan Quest on consoles comes with a few adjusted features to make controllers work as well as some graphical enhancements for the PS4 Pro and Xbox One X.
Titan Quest on console is the exact game we all loved on the PC. One of the best parts of the game back then was just how wonderful it all came to life. Each area felt vast and filled with various enemies. Town and villages were full of NPCs chatting away with you and the voice acting was on point and enough to draw you into the game's story and side quests. While the narrative is a bit harder to appreciate in the port given how far we have gone in that regard, spend enough time with the game's story and characters and you will know what is going on.
Throughout the game, you venture to different continents and fight through enemies that all represent various Greek mythological creatures. Along the way, you will save towns from centaur attacks, dive into caves to kill spider nests and even just take a stroll through the forest to be attacked by flocks of harpies. Enemies keep the game interesting through its most boring moments as they test your combat and skills you have learnt throughout the game.
Titan Quest has an old-school loot system that sees you manage a few blocks of storage as you try and pick up and neatly arrange your gear and items. I went with a magic class (as if there was anything else) and my staffs and chest pieces all took up quite a lot of space in my inventory. This sort of system is unheard of in today's gaming and to see it and remember all the struggles of it back in the day was truly a nostalgic feature indeed.
Another old-school system is the skills and abilities. Instead of just unlocking skills you need to spend points to invest in specific skill trees to build your character the way you want to. You have to stick to one class for a while but later on, the game opens up and lets you experiment with two or three of them to offer more combat variety. It also plays a big role in the approach you take in combat and a simple change of your unlocked skill will change how you tackle each fight. I just stood at the back with ice shards for a good few hours of the game but later on started to experiment with fireballs and even close-range combat skills. While the game does not have the versatility of say Diablo III, it is enough to not make you feel held back at all.
Black Forest Games have been responsible for porting the game to console and they have done a decent job. The game looks great for being 12 years old and the experience was decent. UI and controls were often a hot mess as even with the mapping being rebuilt for a controller, they feel clunky and unresponsive. Menus are also way too cluttered for a controller and I often felt that I needed a mouse to get around them properly. Just moving around your inventory and even selling something or storing gear in your chest is a chore. You need to press L2 and triangle at the same time to change tabs and often I stored things I did not want to store away. I gave up after a while and just sold my items instead of actually paying an effort dealing with the cumbersome UI and menus.
The same cumbersome controls are also found in the combat. There is no targeting of any sorts so you just stand and shoot in hopes that the enemy is in range. You then move a bit back and do the same thing. After a while, it was more like spray and play than anything else. Many of the game's menus are also hidden under other menus and button presses like going to the map for example. You have to go into a menu to go into the map. It takes time becomes a chore. When you are always relying on your larger map to see where you are going, this can be a problem.
Titan Quest has aged and you can see it in the game. While things don't look too bad do not expect anything revolutionary about this port in terms of visuals. It especially starts to rear its ugly face when playing on a massive 4K TV. Textures look dated and character and enemy models are made up of a few polygons. This was not an issue for me as I appreciate a classic when I see one but others may be scared off by just how badly this game has aged.
Multiplayer in Titan Quest was one of the best parts of the game and it returns on the PS4 version. It is, however, limited to online only. This was a let down for me considering how darn well Diablo III pulls off its couch co-op. I could not help but feel that this was a huge missed opportunity. Online multiplayer works and works well but it would have been nice to have someone on the couch playing the game with me as these types of games are just made for it and the experience is just better with it too.
Titan Quest's console release is a classic and that is all it is really. Expect the same slow-paced gameplay, clunky inventory system and visuals to welcome you to the game. It makes for a great game to play in bursts and there is truly nothing else like it on the market but be prepared for some frustrating moments as you try to master this using a controller and get past its UI.