When hardcore gamer meets hardcore game dysfunctional behavior is bound to ensue, especially when the game in question is the game. I once heard a caller-in on a radio program explain how one summer vacation as a kid he’d devised the gaming session to end all gaming sessions. Every morning he’d stowed away in his home’s extra bathroom with a day’s sustenance and his Xbox plugged into the bathroom wall. Then he’d sit down on the porcelain throne, pants strewn about the ankles, so as to avoid any interruptions and play until it got dark outside. He did this every single day of summer vacation.When the DJ asked if it got depressing, the caller replied that it was “the best summer of his life.” Without a doubt, a lot of hardcore gamers have, or have heard similar stories, if maybe a little less extreme. Also, with maybe only the rarest exception, this sort of behavior requires a PC or console title.
DotEmu’s recent port of Titan Quest, a deep, pretty, ARPG of the Diablo-clone variety, offers up not only a vast and original game, but, as a direct port of generally lauded PC title, a quasi-exception to the above rule. In terms of graphics, sound, art direction and overall gameplay, there is not a single ARPG in the Android library that can hold candle to it. However, to be fair, to the many sharp and hardworking mobile devs we run into, you are also not likely to see the sort of funding and man hours that went into its production, in your average Android game. What’s more, as wonderful a port as Titan Quest is, it’s not without its flaws both as a game and a port.
The title is set in the cradle of Western civilization: Ancient Greece. Over the course of the game you travel to all of the major players in pre-Roman antiquity. Beginning, of course, in Greece you travel through Persia then swing back to good ole Egypt. The game has some story concerning titans, who are bad, and some other stuff, which, other than providing a unique RPG setting, is mostly a lot of who cares. It’s a Diablo-clone. Aside from whether or not the baddies look cool, I don’t think the quality of the story is a concern to most players. Wasn’t to me.
The game features only a few remarkable diversions from the click/loot-fest dynamics of the Diablo-template. However, unlike the wealth of Diablo analogues the devs at the now defunct Iron Lore Entertainment got it right across the board. Combat is fast paced and visceral, with accompanying animations that are cool and amusing. Loot is plentiful and nuanced, and the devs obviously spent some time getting the loot and leveling balances just right, as Titan Quest offers just enough bites of the ARPG carrot to keep play fairly compelling throughout.
Titan Quest’s leveling system also features the game’s most compelling diversion from the standard Diablo-clone via what the devs at Iron Lore called themed skill masteries. Instead of offering classes each with a bevvy of class-based skills, Titan Quest instead offers said themed skill masteries, of which you get two over the course of the game. Each works sort of like half a D&D class, so you can make your standard fighter by combining the Warfare and Defense skill trees or a mage by choosing two of the three mage-related masteries like Storm and Spirit. What it also offers is a chance to play with the system by mixing odd combinations like Warfare and Earth (magic) to make a earthquaking battle mage or Nature and Defense to make a kinda druid. It’s an exceptionally cool aspect of the game making Titan Quest’s ARPG grind, more often than not, pretty engaging.
It also must be said that while combat is overall engaging, and the leveling and loot systems generally compelling, the game, like all Diablo-clones, gets to be a grind at times. It just can’t help but feel like a mindless click-fest after a while. After all that’s what it is. That said, it’s far more engaging than most Diablo-clones and if you’re into the ole click-fest, you’ll have a blast.
In terms of its mobile chops, you’ll do much better with a tablet. That said, the game works well on the small screen. It has a considerably wide ranging zoom, enabling players to enjoy battles up close and personal on even the little 4″ Nexus 5 screen we employed for this review. Although flipping back and forth between extreme zooms often proved a pain in the yin yang, and I found myself choosing a view at the onset and sticking with it.
Discounting a mountain of freemium crapola, there is perhaps one, maybe two other Western ARPGs worth playing on mobile, namely the excellent indie gem, Lesabel and Dungeon Hunter 5, and the latter gets a little dicey with the IAP (though last we checked it was less of a rip-off than the other DH titles). And even with these two exceptional titles, there really is no comparison between them and Titan Quest’s PC pedigree, the game bears all the hallmarks of the rare baddass Diablo-clone. Not only that, but at the end of the day, the 6.99 price tag, considering the title’s scope and overall quality is a steal. If you’re a mobile gamer, who loves himself some hardcore Western ARPG, Titan Quest, at the end of the day, is an absolute must.
Minor nits aside, DotEmu’s port of Titan Quest is the finest Android ARPG. Period.