Developed By: Iron Lore Entertainment, THQ Nordic
Published By: THQ Nordic
Category: Action, RPG
Release Date: 7.31.18
Since its incredibly successful launch, the Nintendo Switch has seen an explosion of releases. Some are current new releases, some are ports from other consoles or the PC market, and some are shovelware cash grabs. Titan Quest for the Nintendo Switch falls into that second category. It was originally released on the PC by now-defunct studio Iron Lore Entertainment way back in 2006. THQ Nordic acquired the rights to the game after Iron Lore’s collapse, and they decided to bring the game to the Switch to see what happens. It’s a Diablo-like action RPG in an ancient Greek setting, which is a pretty cool idea, but the game really shows its age in a lot of areas.
The opening cinematic, which is kind of awesome, recaps the bit about Greek mythology where Zeus defeats the titans and the gods of Olympus take their place. It fast forwards a few millennia to a temple of Zeus that serves as the jail for the titans getting attacked by Medusa (or maybe just a generic gorgon creature? It’s not clear, I guess). The titans are freed and one of them makes a big creepy speech about revenge. It’s all a solid enough start to the game, and the cinematics are actually pretty good-looking for a twelve-year-old game.
The scene then shifts to the actual game. You start as a traveler on your way to who-knows-where in ancient Greece when you come upon a farmer begging for your help. Satyrs have overrun his village and they’re desperate for help. This sets off a long chain of events wherein you travel from city to city, delivering messages for help from one group to the next and murdering hordes and hordes of monsters as you get caught up in the struggle between the gods and the titans. It’s all pretty boiler-plate RPG quest faire, but I ate it up like I was starving. I’ll take on an epic quest against evil basically any day of the week as long as I get to feel like a badass mowing down hundreds of monsters.
So, while there is that sense of satisfaction from the gameplay side, the story is a little light. While the main quest about defeating the titans and all that is fun on its own, there really isn’t that much supporting the story otherwise. There are a few NPCs that you can talk to, but there’s really no character development for anyone in the game. The game uses its limited dialogue interactions to build out its world, but it doesn’t really do anything to fill that world with compelling characters that really draw your interest beyond swinging your axe/gladius/whatever around at anything that breathes. It was difficult to invest myself in the world without that kind of connection, so I wish that would have been fleshed out a little more.
As I said earlier the game is very much Diablo-inspired. If you’ve ever played one of Blizzard’s masterpieces, it’s easy to see why other developers would want to tinker with the formula. Titan Quest turns out a game that is fun to play, but it was developed for the PC initially, and that shows in a variety of ways. You run up to an enemy and start attacking in a variety of ways; there’s the straight up melee/ranged weapon attack or there are a variety of skills or spells to cast depending on your class. There are passive skills that are always active, active skills that eat up a constant portion of your mana bar, and there are one time castings that cost mana but that mana can be replenished via potions or just the regular regeneration rate. Simple enough, and most of the time a lot of fun, but it’s got some issues.
Targeting enemies is a huge problem area; as in, there doesn’t appear to be any way to choose your target. The game automatically targets an enemy for you, but if it’s not the enemy you want to attack, then… sorry? Say you’re fighting a boss but you want to kill the minions first, well, too bad. You can run away far enough that you stop targeting anything and then go back and approach from an angle where you’ll target a minion first and try that way, but that’s pretty tedious and not a lot of fun. I’m sure this isn’t an issue on the PC where you could just use a mouse to select a target, but on a console you need another way to switch targets. The same problem arises when trying to grab loot; you can’t just select the piece you want, you have to dance around the loot until the item you want is highlighted to grab it. It’s just sucks up time and erodes the fun of the game.
The non-combat portions of the game are pretty much straight from Diablo as well. I didn’t even need tutorials for the inventory, skill trees, and economic/crafting portions of the game since I remembered them from Diablo. The main problem with all of the menus – the inventory, skills, and store menus in particular – is that the item/skill descriptions pop up automatically, and can block your view of the other items/skills in the menu. Again, on the PC these descriptions probably didn’t pop up until you hovered the mouse over them for a few seconds and if you wanted to see what was under the description, you moved the mouse. In the Switch release, though, descriptions are either on or off. They could have made the descriptions pop up in the margins around the menus, as the menus are not full screen. The on/off orientation just isn’t as convenient to use.
I’ve said it a bunch already, but I’ll keep saying it anyway; this game is twelve years old. It looks it, for the most part. While the cinematics are actually very sharp, the in-game graphics look about like what top-of-the-line PC games looked like in 2006. It’s 2018, though, and we’ve made some strides in the graphics department. The character models are a little pixelated and the animations are a little stiff. If you have the camera zoomed all the way out you won’t really notice it, but if you zoom in… things look a little underwhelming.
Going back to the “this game was clearly designed for PCs and not a portable home console” theme, several parts of the game’s interface are just too darn small to be useful on the Switch’s screen when you’re playing undocked. The minimap is basically useless since the icons are too small to see. Text in menus and item descriptions is microscopic. It looks fine on a TV, but if you prefer to play your Switch undocked it’s a problem.
I had to go back and play the game for a few minutes just to remember if there even was any music in the game, and there was. It’s a lot of generic war drums and fantasy type stuff that just doesn’t leave much of an impression. The dialogue is almost all voice acted, which is something I always appreciate when games take the effort to do it. The voices are well-done here, but the lack of any truly distinct characters in the game really hurts the efforts of the actors. When the characters have no purpose beyond exposition, it’s hard to invest them with emotion.
Titan Quest has no touch or motion controls. It plays about as well undocked as it does docked, but as I said, it looks a lot better docked, relatively speaking. So this game is definitely recommended for play docked.
TL;DR: Lackluster port of a solid but somewhat outdated-looking game.