If like me, you’re a Switch owner and have an insatiable itch to play Diablo III on our beloved consoles, then it’s certainly being a lot wait to delve into the dungeons of Blizzard’s title; and that’s only if the information circling around the rumour mills are true. However, with the release of Iron Lore & THQ Nordic’s Titan Quest on Nintendo’s console, it may just be possible that this is a game that satisfies that craving and duly, scratches a very aggravating itch.
First released on the PC over twelve years ago, with console ports coming to the Playstation and Xbox earlier this year, this Grecian tale of titan mythology now gets a port to the switch. Despite its age though, its console iterations were largely littered with reports of bugs, from animation lags to disappearing loot. However, do not fear Switch owners, as it seems that these problems have been largely eradicated for its latest release; although a number of technical issues do remain, but they never interfere to a level that makes the game unplayable; in fact, for me, this has to be one of the most playable titles that I have experienced on the Switch in a long time.
This action-adventure, role-player tasks you with a quest to traverse a variety of landscapes that takes you through Greece, across Egypt and over the Asian peninsulas in a series of environments, as you battle a selection of fabled Titans that have escaped from within the grip of the gods. You first begin your adventure within the village of Helos, where you guide your lightly customised warrior into the surrounding fields of farmland to combat the threat of beasts to the farmer’s livestock. After some interaction with some NPC’s, you are then sent to the City of Sparta and from there, across the plains of Greece and beyond as you fulfil a series of requests, as well as a spattering of side quests on your journey to becoming the most feared and fabled of all Grecian warriors.
You start off with a bare-boned load-out, both in armour and weaponry. It’s just enough to be able to deal with the initial onslaught of enemies, but to advance further and stand any chance against the more fabled beasts, it becomes necessary to equip your warrior with a better grading of equipment. Fortunately, downed enemies are rather gratuitous in dropping loot; as well as discovered chests that lay within camps and caves and from a series of traders that frequent the villages. As with any of the games from the Diablo series, you chop-and-change armour and weaponry frequently, equipping more powerful and stronger variants as you find them; you can even create two load-outs, switching between long and short-range styles, as well as dual-wield, depending on your class abilities. This, along with the exploration of the lands, creates a very addictive mechanic to the gameplay, as you come across a staggering variety of weaponry, new locales, enchantments and armour.
Although initial customisation of your character is very limited, choosing your name, gender and tunic colour, the variety of options regarding character abilities are astounding. As well as aesthetical options with gear and equipment, you can also learn to master the skills of up to nine different classes, you can even combine them to produce magical warriors or enchanting bowcasters. The wealth of branching here is staggering. You can even create different characters with different abilities and store acquired loot; ready for your next character to pick up within a separate game. It’s a nice mechanic and one that promotes a form of longevity over the titles long-term appeal. Again, the levelling up of character attributes and skills creates a very addictive quality, as well as give the title an incredible amount of depth.
Viewed from an isometric, top-down position, you guide your hero around the landscape with the left thumb-stick, whilst the right stick zooms your camera in and out for a closer, or wider field of vision. Using the Y button, you can attack with whatever weapon you are holding, whether it a be short or long-range; whilst B switches between load-outs, A confirms selections and the plus button brings up a radial menu of various options and selections. Health and Mana regenerations, signified by two coloured bars at the bottom of the screen, can also be utilised by drinking potions with the L and R shoulder buttons respectively. It’s a simple control scheme that works well with its transition from the PC’s mouse to the console’s pad. However, what the game fails to do is fully explain the functions of control that are available to you, requiring a lot of trial-and-error and investigation to get the most out of its control mechanics.
These can become very apparent in selecting dropped loot and fighting the variety of beasts that traverse the landscape. Closely littered loot can be a pain to pick up when trying to single out particular items, forcing you to constantly jostle your character to a position that highlights the specific item you are trying to acquire. However, hold down the A button and the game presents you with a box in which you can select individual items. The same also applies when in combat, as the game seemingly auto-targets random enemies. One minute you may caught within a pack, fighting for your life before the game automatically selects another enemy who may be standing across the other side of the map, forcing your character to run away from the mass-scrap to fight a lone enemy, before randomly running off in another direction. Again, holding down the Y button, not only creates a flurry of attacks, but by using the left thumb-stick in unison, produces a cone that manually selects your next target. These two elements improve the gameplay significantly, yet none of these functions are explained in-game, which seems to me a very strange way of doing things.
One thing that this game does do right though, is it functionality of saving your progress. Throughout the landscapes there are a variety of fountains that not only save the game, but also grant health regenerations, enchantments and ability resets. Couple these with the ability to save your progress at any time on the fly, this is a game that fits perfectly on the Switch with its functionality that suits a longer play session, but also caters for smaller, casual experiences. You can also activate portals that allow for a fast-travel mechanic; a particularly useful element if playing locally and you need to partner up quickly should each character be in differing districts. Despite some element of repetition and linearity in its gameplay, these functions of saving, multiple characters and multiplayer do help to alleviate the strain of these, unavoidable mechanics with its wealth of playing options.
Overall, Titan Quest is a game that most definitely scratches that itch of missing a Diablo-styled game on the Nintendo Switch. It’s beautifully detailed, both in its graphical and audio presentations, with ambient sounds and spoken text throughout; although a few textural glitches do occur from time to time, but these are so few and far between that they’re barely noticeable. There’s a wealth of depth here, as well as an expansive map to explore, housing all manner of secrets, caves, dungeons and abilities to tinker with; producing a game that easily houses over fifty hours of play-time, as well as a lifetime of customisation and replay offerings, especially with its online capability where you can recruit or join other players’ games in a party of six, as you explore, fight and loot together in a drop-in/drop-out scenario. Being a PC port, there are a few elements that don’t transition so well, such as small text sizes and cumbersome menu navigation, but these don’t really detract from the fun that can be had with this game. It may a little rough around the edges in places, but if you’re looking for a decent Diablo clone, then this is a titan of a game that will satisfy the deepest itching of quests.
REVIEW CODE: A complimentary Nintendo Switch code was provided to Bonus Stage for this review. Please send all review code enquiries to firstname.lastname@example.org.
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