In all my years of playing and experiencing video games, dungeon crawlers and hack-n-slashes have become some of my favorite genres ever since the days of Diablo 2 and Baldur’s Gate: Dark Alliance. With the exception of Nine Parchments, this style of game has been severely lacking on Switch in the near year and a half since its launch. Titan Quest is here to break that cycle, and after spending several hours with the game, it mostly holds up the core tenets of what made the genre so popular. Though it contains a wholly fun experience, odd glitches and systematic design flaws limit Titan Quest from rising above the heights of its Olympian setting.
As with most games of its ilk, Titan Quest follows a rather generic yet mostly satisfying feedback loop: kill enemies, loot their bodies, and then either equip or sell the items you’ve pilfered, all while progressing from locale to locale during the main quest, which will take you across Greece to Egypt, and even to China. There are side quests to be completed as well, but they don’t require much out-of-the-way exploration, as most bosses or quest items can be found directly on your path to the next main objective.
One of the most important aspects of isometric action RPGs is its combat, and here, Titan Quest does only well enough. Enemies are auto-selected—indicated by a light blue glow—and it’s rather difficult to change your selection during combat. When you hold the Y button to attack, you can use the left thumb stick to select a new adversary, but the cone of effect utilized here is rather clunky and doesn’t always work as intended. Doing so sometimes locked up my controller, which can make some tense battles err on the side of frustration.
In general, however, combat runs smoothly, and there are a number of different weapons and spells with which to outfit your character. Having primary and secondary weapons from the start is a huge plus and can make large-scale battles more manageable. When you can keep a close-range melee weapon as well as a ranged magical staff or bow equipped—and swap between them at the press of a button—it really adds some versatility in the mix and ensures you’re prepared at a moment’s notice. Diverse and complex magical abilities and skill trees add to the depth of Titan Quest’s overall combat system and is arguably the game’s crown jewel. I chose Nature mastery for my playthrough, which granted me a wolf companion and various healing and status spells, but all the different magical skill lines can be mixed and matched to each player’s preference, opening up the possibilities for some unique skill combinations.
Another of Titan Quest’s strengths lies in its enemy variety. Although behaviors and attack patterns generally don’t vary with more common enemies, the types of monsters and enemies to be fought are varied and many. From undead skeletons to snapper turtles, even to cave goblins and giant spiders, no lack of thoughtful imagination was put into the game’s enemy design. With the exception of some rarities, however, most enemies do drop similar items in terms of loot, so seeing more monster-specific drops would have been a welcome addition to Titan Quest’s otherwise indiscriminate loot system.
One of the main areas in which Titan Quest struggles is in its user interface and controls, particularly when it comes to using a gamepad. Within menus, I constantly had to show and hide item descriptions to be able to see which item in my inventory I was selecting as well as what that item was. Additionally, when looting chests or enemies, I often found it difficult to highlight the item I wanted to pick up. Since there’s no way to use a button or one of the thumb sticks to cycle through lootable items, I constantly found myself either running in circles trying to highlight my desired item or picking up everything within reach and tossing the unwanted items—which, again, forced me to muddle through the game’s overly wordy item description windows. It sounds like a small complaint, but good UI is important in a game where you constantly have to rifle through menus to upgrade your items or character, and unfortunately, Titan Quest drops the ball here.
Additionally, the game has a number of bugs, including spells travelling through solid objects as well as a particularly frustrating tendency for your animal companion to experience collision detection issues which cause the screen to shake. I also experienced numerous occasions where my controller would lock up after pushing a button too many times in rapid succession and would only grant me control once I stopped for a moment or two. These are all small issues, but combined, they make me wonder if the game couldn’t have used a little more time in the oven.
All that said, Titan Quest looks great whether docked or in handheld. The game runs at 1080p docked and at 720p in handheld, and the game mostly hits its intended 60 frames per second, with the occasional animation hitch here or there. Character movement and battle animations can be somewhat stiff, but for a remaster of game originally released in 2006, that’s not entirely surprising. The game is also fully voice acted, though it feels quaint; Titan Quest shows its age based on the enthusiastic rigidness of some of the game’s voice acting, but it’s charming nevertheless. The game also does support local and online multiplayer for up to six participants, which is great for couch co-op and online adventurers alike.
While Titan Quest is a fun hack-n-slash action RPG, many isolated shortcomings add up and ultimately keep it from achieving true greatness. Though the game’s combat and customization options offer much in the way of replayability, Titan Quest’s bugs and lack of an efficient user interface make what is otherwise a great game, at times, downright frustrating to muddle through.
Disclaimer: A review code for Titan Quest was provided by the game’s publisher.