I Seem To Be Having Trouble Starting Titan Quest

By John Walker on September 3rd, 2014 at 7:00 pm.

Titan Quest is a game I’ve gone back to a few times over the eight or so years since it came out. A straight, classic(al) Action RPG, I find it hard to fully justify why its calm ways engross me so much. Yet every so often it calls to me, so back once again I went. And found I couldn’t start. Not because of technology issues – it holds up extremely well – but because of that opening moment: it felt too good.

I’m stood in the opening area, my character bobbing her idle animations, and I don’t want to go anywhere.

Titan Quest is such a warmly remembered game, always mentioned when people celebrate the action role-playing game, sitting neatly between Diablo and Torchlight. And yet it always feels to me like an underdog – a modest game, underplaying the dramatics, getting on with being a really refined interpretation of the ARPG, without wanting to make a fuss. But that composed exterior belies the care and interest that went into its creation.

I remember visiting the now defunct developers, Iron Lore, during the development of the game, and its being one of the most interesting studios I’d visited. At the top was Age Of Empires creator Brian Sullivan, in his own office, and then the rest of the open-plan room was filled with desks belonging to an eclectic mix of old-school and fledgling game developers, as well as a surprising number Sullivan had plucked from Nintendo. And all seemed to be making Titan Quest for different reasons.

I most strongly remember Rich Sullivan (no relation of Brian), a former member of the Looking Glass team. He was a wonderfully cantankerous man, old far beyond his years, and an incredibly talented artist. At the time of my visit he was working on creature design. And while a diversion to working in animation for years had meant he’d adapted to using a tablet for much of his work, he had still defiantly built everything that was to be included in the game out of clay. And they were works of art. At my observing that his designs reminded me of Ray Harryhausen, he unleashed a wonderful rant about how none of these damned kids he was working with had heard of Harryhausen, and how he’d been forcing them to watch his movies during their lunch breaks.

Brian Sullivan was a very different person to talk to about the game. While he was certainly very enthusiastic about the project, it was very much as a businessman, rather than the game designer I had been expecting to meet. He said, as I interviewed him for PC Gamer, how he expected Titan Quest to be a break-out success, to be a game that reached a non-gaming mainstream audience – that it would do for the RPG what The Sims had done for management games. And I didn’t really know what to say, because, well, no it wouldn’t. It was a game about hitting mythical creatures with an axe. It was slightly awkward.

Of course it wasn’t a break-out success. Iron Lore, after releasing the expansion pack of Immortal Throne, could not secure funding for any further projects, and came to an end. Which is rather sad. But the game they left us with genuinely captures all the different attitudes that went into it – something accessible to a wider crowd than the more die-hard (geddit?) Diablo, but passionately detailed about the various mythologies it explored. It is, as the ARPG is wont to be, a game of minimalism in many ways – an awful lot of left-clicking, quite a lot of right-clicking, and a good few chats along the way. And it does this with grace. I think that’s a word that I’d apply to Titan Quest, and not the many others in its field: grace.

So why am I waffling at such length, disappearing into anecdotes, and not just getting on with playing the game? Because I’m having an awful lot of trouble leaving the opening screen.

Once you’ve picked a sex and a tunic colour for your character, you’re in. There’s no initial customisation, beyond giving the lady or gentleman a name, no rolling stats or worrying about classes. You’re a boy or a girl, and that’s your lot. And you appear stood by a small thatched hut, a stall of various fruits and vegetables outside, next to a gently rippling lake. And it’s beautiful. Certainly, the game has aged in almost ten years, but not nearly as much as you might expect. On the water lazily bobs a small, wooden boat (agonisingly unavailable to pootle about within), while around you chickens calmly scratch and peck at the grass. It’s a scene of idyll.

A man stands to the right, and if you talk to him he impresses upon you with some urgency that there are dangers up the road. Please, he pleads, could you do something about it? But I don’t want to. Because right here, by this shack by the lake, seems far too pleasant a thing to spoil with thoughts of satyrs. There are birds twittering, reflections gently undulating in the water, and I just want to sit down, tip my head up toward the sky, and just be.

There’s something odd about this moment. This knowledge that my agency in this game is to introduce the death and suffering. If I stay still, it’s serene. If I move, I’m off on a couple of dozen hours of (very entertaining) clicking on things until they’re dead.

I’ve experienced this game-opening paralysis before, in much more severe ways. The utterly vile opening of Medal Of Honor: Warfighter was a far more crippling experience. There my opening move, the only available option, was to shoot a stranger in the back of his head. Gun held out in front, fixed in position, the game instructing that I had to left click to continue. Left click to blow this unaware stranger’s brains out, for no stated reason, with no idea who he was or what he was doing. That was just grotesque. Titan Quest’s is the opposite – it’s too lovely.

And then I’m over it, and I’m off, and I’m clicking on things and trying the Dream Mastery specialism as I’ve never done it before, and saving stranded men, thwacking harpies out of the sky, and making the blank map turn filled in. Though still thinking about that hut by the lake.

Titan Quest is still available on Steam. A good few former Iron Lore members went on to form Crate Entertainment, building Grim Dawn.

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76 Comments »

  1. Tei says:

    Titam Quest was good at the time, and Grim Dawn is going to be even better.

    • Antsy says:

      Aw you changed it. Grim Dan sounds excellent. Like Desperate Dan’s battle worn brother.

      • GSGregory says:

        Grim dawn is better*

        • Ishbane says:

          TQ is far too polished and enormous. While Grim Dawn looks promising, it’s still lacking in those compartments.

          In 5-7 years, after being released plus an expansion pack or two, maybe.

          • GSGregory says:

            All grim dawn lacks is content. Nothing more. Btw I own both games and got grim dawn in the kick starter and have been playing the alpha and beta,

    • 65 says:

      The combat in Grim Dawn is much better but the thing that kept me coming back to TQ were the gorgeous environments, from ancient Greece over Egypt to China by way of Babylon (doesn’t make too much sense but whatever), all with their own look, mythology inspired enemies and even equipment.
      Grim Dawn so far has just been the same grimy, desaturated backgrounds with fairly bland creature design.
      That being said, I’m still holding out hope for the third act, which isn’t in early access yet, to shake things up a little.

    • knowitall011 says:

      grim dawn needs more colors. so far, all I see is a sea of brown.

  2. The Dark One says:

    Have you played the game with the Underlord mod, John?

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    Rizlar says:

    I liked Titan Quest because it let me play a defensive-y, dexterity-based character with a shield, and it actually worked for killing shit! It also let me use a spear with the shield, for the original Hoplite look, which was fantastic.

    Don’t think a build like that would have worked quite as well, immediately and intuitively, gracefully, in any other game.

  4. djbriandamage says:

    That very first scene with the waving grain sure is serene but there are many, many gorgeous sights to see long after the jerkpunching starts. It’s not so much a game of setpieces as it is consistently wondrous and beautiful. Whether you’re trotting through gardens, ruins, or something inbetween, areas feel alive and have histories both recent and ancient. Such a beautiful game with an awesome breadth of locales.

    Take those steps, John, and if possible get past the first chapter. Diablo 3 has raised the watermark a little beyond Titan Quest (which, IMO, was by far the previous ARPG watermark) but it’s sufficiently unique to warrant time spent – particularly for its primary/secondary class structure. Your punchdude starts off generic as a potato but is sculpted by your in-game actions rather than some arbitrary choice you make before understanding what you’ve chosen.

  5. Gilead says:

    I experienced something similar years ago when I downloaded some custom Unreal Tournament maps that focused on creating really detailed, architecturally interesting areas. I think the ones I loaded up were by Angelheart, but there were a few people doing the same thing.

    So I’d be wandering around admiring the quality of the work and relaxing and just soaking in the atmosphere…and then I’d hear the sound of a flak cannon and a bot advising another bot to burn, baby, and I’d think “Oh. Right. I suppose I’d better get on with the killing, then. I wish I didn’t have to.”

  6. commentingaccount says:

    I really wanted ot like this game, I did. But… it just feels bland. The tired greek god aesthetics did not help(A strike against God of War as well).

    I dunno how the late game fairs. I barely made it out of the first act. Maybe it gets better later, but… *sigh*

    Titan Quest is honestly one of the most disappointing games I’ve ever played. I don’t regret buying it though, as my dad loves it.

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      Morph says:

      Well without wanting to spoil it for you, greek gods are not all it is about, not by a long way.

      However I liked it without loving the game. Never managed to finish it all.

    • Hellion says:

      I pretty much feel the same way. I keep seeing praise heaped onto this game, and I keep reinstalling and trying to get into it, figuring maybe I’ll “get it” this time. I dig games like Diablo and Torchlight, but Titan’s Quest just completely fails to hold my interest for some reason.

      • fooga44 says:

        The people who praise TQ don’t understand what makes ARPG’s fun or TQ was among their first ARPG’s. TQ is a bad game all around and it was reflected in the flat sales.

        The audience knew TQ was a stinker and the bulk of the sales went to people like John who tragically are addicted to eye candy and don’t understand what makes a game fun.

    • fooga44 says:

      The problem with Titan’s quest is the boring skills/classes and the combat, combat isn’t interesting or tight like it was in diablo 2, and the loot tables and things you get are just not interesting. It’s a combination of everything. Diablo 1 + 2 got the skills and loot/leveling right, TQ didn’t understand why diablo was successful.

      To be honest all ARPG’s after Diablo 2 have struggled to “get” what made diablo 2 so fun. Diablo 3 is merely benefiting from a decades worth of game market expansion and the fact they shoved that internet connection requirement into the game because they knew 99% of the fans would buckle and they did.

      • derbefrier says:

        I halfway agree with you. TQ wasn’t a horrible game and I liked it enough but wasn’t anything special in my eyes. The class system was interesting but everything else was kinda meh and it also loses a lot of points for having an extremely wonky multiplayer.

        Also as a side note D3 while still no D2 is quite fun in itsown right. It lacks the depth of previous diablo games but there’s still a lot of fun to be had with it. If you just accept it for what it is, a highly polished game with fun combat. Like a gauntlet on steriods.

        • fooga44 says:

          D3 I basically consider a mod level effort outside the graphics and combat, they butchered the loot aspect and the story/universe feel. The whole world of diablo 3 feels like it takes place in a parallel universe to Diablo 1 + 2. The whole atmosphere feels like something some half-baked talented wow player would come up with. This is what you get when you wait 11 years to make a sequel to a franchise and the original team of devs is long gone unfortunately.

  7. Simbosan says:

    Titan Quest was brilliant, the art and design was stunning. They put a lot of effort into creating beautiful recreations of the ancient Mediterranean and the immersion as a result was very deep. Enjoyed this way more than D2 for example, one of the best ARPG I have played.

  8. Urthman says:

    TQ still has some of the most beautiful sunrises and sunsets in video games.

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    J. Cosmo Cohen says:

    Great piece, John, very lovely. I guess it’s time to fire up Titan Quest again.

  10. apocraphyn says:

    Ahh, Titan Quest. Absolutely adore the game – probably the best ARPG I’ve ever played. The dual-class system is above and beyond any other system I’ve seen within other games in its category. I also found the setting to be almost refreshing since few games in general tend to explore mythology in such a brazen fashion.

    (This almost seems like a parody of Commentingaccount’s post above, but I’m being absolutely genuine.)

    • vlonk says:

      Crazy thing is: Almost every combination of two schools works. This is the amazing part for me. There is a reason why not more games try this approach. It is so hard to balance. I assume similar approaches have been tested in other RPG games but they got switched out for fixed class systems in early design stages for safety reasons.

    • Cyrus says:

      I definitely agree, I really liked Titan Quest.
      Had several things combined which made it unique and fun (improved some features from Diablo as well).
      Loot, setting, classes, design etc.

      Sure it has its weaknesses too, but I’m vastly more positive towards the game so…

  11. Gog Magog says:

    Hotline Miami had a WARFACER opening as well. An unwashed old fuck tells you “I’M HERE TO TELL YOU HOW TO KILL PEOPLE” (the game literally begins with those words on the screen) and then tells you you’re fucking stupid. And then has you murder a bunch of random dudes in a toilet.
    Quite the thing, starting like that. With the rather blinding difference that one game is completely psychotic and the other is Hotline Miami. (?!)

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      mpk says:

      I was put off of Hotline Miami for a long time because I’m bored of random murder (and in the game). After picking it up in a Humble Bundle and going through the opening levels… yeah. Quite the thing indeed.

      • Phasma Felis says:

        Hotline Miami makes random murder new and interesting, in a rather unsettling way. It’s the first game I can remember where killing a dozen armed men feels like one imagines it really would feel, i.e. simultaneously a near-superhuman achievement and a revolting atrocity.

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          mpk says:

          It wasnt the methods of random murder that bored me – more that I was, and stil am, bored of games where pure violence and murder is sole aim.

  12. TWChristine says:

    I’ve always shied away from action RPGs as I’m not really a fan of the “click faster!” kind of mentality, and I think I was also a bit turned off from the dark-ish look of Diablo. And that’s kind of funny, because I’ve actually been having a decent time with Path of Exile.. I think I’ll at least get the demo of this, as I enjoy how bright this game is in comparison, and good architecture is something that always gets me to stop and admire/screenshot away.

    • Alevice says:

      Path of Exile has a relatively lower pace in contrast to Diablo 3 and Torchlight. It kinda helps the very first areas are different enough from each other – first act has beach, a swamp, underground water caves, cliff pathways, mountain areas, a prison and ship graveyards, each of which had distinct general map layouts.

      • TWChristine says:

        Seriously? That’s considered a lower pace!? I can barely walk two feet in the jungle without being ambushed by monkeys and head hunters! I’ve given Torchlight a try and just couldn’t get into it..I think the main reason was I was getting turned off by the fact that attack and move were the same key, so I was constantly moving into the group of bad guys while wanting to stay ranged (never bothered to see if there was a key to make you stand still like in PoE). I might should give it another whirl though I guess..

  13. vlonk says:

    Titan Quest might not have hooked the whole world on ARPG’s but it sure helped me to convince my wife to play games with me.
    Never again have I seen someone who is a beginner-level gamer so fiercely focused on clickedy click clicking monsters to death. Guess the game struck a nerve in her to defend her homeland against the evil invaders. Good times!

  14. Severian says:

    Titan Quest remains one of my 10 ten games of all time. I played it through probably 3-4 times, and it’s a large game. I loved the dual-class system, I loved the crafted scenery (randomized dungeons and areas always seemed so awkward in comparison), and I loved the focus on mythology. The Asian set-piece was my favorite, especially the bit where you fight cat-people along the Great Wall — too bad it was deep enough into the game that some people probably never saw it. I tried loading it up a few months ago and couldn’t get back into it – mostly because of the dated graphics and interface. But I’ll always remember it fondly.

  15. laggerific says:

    This game is one of the best examples for 3D gaming I have ever seen. One of the first things I loaded up with my 3D Vision 2 monitor. Truly an amazing experience…I felt like I was looking into a living, breathing diorama. The skeletons looked amazing.

    This is a great game, and Grim Dawn has yet to give me the same feels as this one, unfortunately.

    Still, I highly recommend everyone go out and buy a 3D Vision 2 setup or a large, passive 4k 3D TV that supports DP (or get a new video card with HDMI2.0 whenever they come out) and play this game in 3D.

    • fish99 says:

      I did try TQ with 3D Vision but found the cursor was at screen depth so it was hard to click anything acurately. Did you ever find a fix to this?

      (I don’t consider playing with low depth a fix btw)

  16. phanatic62 says:

    I got the demo for TQ with an issue of PC Gamer and fell in love with it immediately. My old pc would start to chug by the time I got to the end of the game (and not even into the expansion) so perhaps it’s time to give this another shot. Thanks John!

  17. Assaf says:

    Thank you for this kinda heartwarming article. I’m feeling down and it fit my melancholic mood.

  18. Yglorba says:

    They should make a game where the player’s job is to make things better. Your character is The Negotiator, who can talk down even the most vicious of monsters armed with only their words, and you travel from village to village identifying the long-running ethnic conflicts behind the “monster” violence, then risking your life to enter their lairs, find their leaders, and convince them to attend a peace and reconciliation summit with the villages where they talk their differences out and come to a mutually agreeable conclusion.

    • Arglebargle says:

      If we could only talk to the monsters!
      ….

    • iucounu says:

      I’d love to play that game.

    • Grygus says:

      I’d love that even more if it were an option; if you could also (and with fewer short-term complications) simply slaughter them all, it might be even better? Then at irregular intervals there is a big outside threat and you and your allies face it together. And by “big outside threat” I do not mean a clearly bad monster; that would muddle everything! No, I mean drought. Or disease. Or a Long Winter. Each race brings something to the table to help with surviving the threat, so you don’t need them if you’re willing to watch your people suffer, but the more friends the better.

      And there could be a cold-blooded calculus happening where you get what you need from race A and then consider eliminating them, reducing the number of mouths to feed or whatever. But what if they have something good for the next emergency?

      Also mod support. And free candy.

  19. Arglebargle says:

    I was fortunate that Titan Quest was my first ARPG. Beautiful art to begin with, and I happen to like the ancient Greek mythic setting. While not keen on point and click movement/fighting, it resonated otherwise and I played it like crazy. The sense of place was strong, not equalled for me until PoE.

    About a year before Diablo3 came out, I borrowed a copy of D2 to see what the fuss was about, and thought that it pretty much sucked. Not nearly as good an experiance, or as good a game as Titan Quest. But then whatever special sauce Blizzard puts in their games doesn’t appear to effect me.

  20. sinbad says:

    I replay this game about every 2 years, currently about halfway through my 4th or 5th playthrough. Still haven’t found an ARPG I like as much. Bought it for my 14 year old nephew last week and he’s almost finished it now for the first time and absolutely loves it.

    For me it just nails it. The scenery is beautiful, the loot is extremely cool just often enough to keep you searching for that next bit, and the classes just work. I’m pretty sure i’ll always love it.

  21. Person of Interest says:

    Titan Quest hooked me for months, in a way Diablo never did. Its community was pleasant, and the devs were active on the fan forums. I spent many hours fiddling with the fan-made Defiler tool, experimenting with character builds on the TitanCalc website, and packratting every weapon and trinket that dropped into TQ Vault.

    It’s also the last game I ever pirated. When Iron Lore shut down, I felt bummed. But when I read Michael Fitch’s rant[1] about piracy being a primary cause of the closure, I felt remorseful. Obviously, I was complicit whenever I played a game without paying for it, but until then I had never felt personally responsible for the fate of the developer.

    When Grim Dawn went on sale I purchased it to atone for my sins against Iron Lore. I still haven’t played it.

    [1] http://www.quartertothree.com/game-talk/showthread.php?42663

    • fooga44 says:

      Pffft… iron lore tried to cash in by cloning diablo, you don’t deserve money because you cloned a game without understanding what made it fun. They are talented devs, but you have to use your imagination, not just clone a successful game. The gaming industry is full of whiners and spineless devs who put out garbage and put up with too much shit from publishers.

      • vlonk says:

        How exactly is TQ a mere D1/D2 clone and how can you say this game was a mere cashgrab clone after reading the beautiful article above?
        The brilliance of D1 was to make a TURN based RPG and reduce the turn timer to zero. This is how this genre got started, read it up. Beyond that D2 iterated mostly on numbers and combat interactions and some beautiful CGI cutscenes.
        Now I see your in there for the adrenalin and numbers, but if you where to widen your view you would see in TQ
        a) a very well researched mythology, architecture and landscaping that follows the real world counterparts
        b) an almost timeless beauty in sfx and visual design
        c) a game that is very well aimed at beginning and intermidiate gamers, not the hardcore crowd.
        Even when you cannot appreciate it for yourself, you have to admit that this is an achievement of its own.

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    BathroomCitizen says:

    And this is why I read RPS!

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    jaheira says:

    This was a very nicely written article John.

  24. Dominare says:

    Titan Quest is a better game than Diablo 2. There, I said it.

  25. fish99 says:

    It’s a very solid ARPG and one of the best co-op games around (along with the Diablos and Borderlands), but the thing I particularly enjoyed Titan Quest for was the hybrid classes, where everyone gets to pick two trees from a list of 9, so there’s a lot of different builds there. Plus within the trees themselves there’s a lot of choice too (i.e. you can’t get everything).

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    caff says:

    I played through this, and the expansion, when I was once unemployed. For me, the lack of meaningful functions and achievements in my life appeared to be sated by lots of left-clicking.

    Of the ARPG genre, Titan Quest is one of the better ones, surpassing Diablo 3 in my book. I actually paid attention to the world, and even the story (a bit). The map design was coherent and fluid, but like most games of its ilk I could see through the transparent mechanics.

  27. Pazguato says:

    John, I’ve experienced that uncomfortable feeling of being pushed to do something that you instinctively reject a couple of times, but the most troubling has been with “The last of us” ending. I found very inmoral and upsetting the final “decision” the protagonist made and the afterwards violent protagonist’s behaviour. It’s not a decision the player can make. I felt i was forced to play and do something I’d never do. It was near to disgusting and I’m almost confident that this was not intended (after all this is not an artie indie sociological game).

    Also, an insightful article about why The last of us is overrated: https://www.google.es/url?sa=t&rct=j&q=&esrc=s&source=web&cd=1&cad=rja&uact=8&ved=0CCEQFjAA&url=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.nohighscores.com%2F2013%2F06%2F18%2Fwhy-the-last-of-us-sucks%2F&ei=0T0IVJbzAcPhaP-TgLAK&usg=AFQjCNFRUJJVj3mJbVe6OZM8P06I9AhQGw&bvm=bv.74649129,d.d2s

    I also feel that way with Telltale’s Walking Dead: with all that overly dramatic, arbitrarily and recurrent, black or white decisions: Who I save? who I kill? Only can live/die and is upon you! Fast! That’s not good storytelling.

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      welverin says:

      Your confidence is misplaced, Joel is not the hero of The Last of Us. It would probably misguided to call him outright evil, but he is not a good man.

      SPOILERS!

      I’ve read it is possible to not kill the doctors there, haven’t gone back to try it out myself though.

      • Pazguato says:

        SPOILERS:

        I know he is not the hero, but still.. I guess this could be a discussion about the traditional identification with the protagonist, a classic literature subject. But I’m hesitant to accept all this was intended.

        Anyway, I tried to save the doctors but I couldn’t. But maybe there’s a way… I was forced to kill them just to continue the game.

        My point is that the most important decision of the game (and this is not shooting the 400th zombie) is stolen from you, just to create a story as the creator wants not the player.

        • Sabsbot says:

          SPOILERS:

          Seen as how Joel lies repeatedly to Ellie in the ending, in addition to everything else he does just so he won’t be alone again, I’d say it’s entirely intended.

          Plus, there’s what the devs said: http://o.canada.com/technology/gaming/the-last-of-us-how-the-games-creator-envisions-its-ending

        • Volcanu says:

          I didnt have a problem with not being able to make the decision. TLOU is such a narrative driven, cinematic style game all the way through- that I was happy to have the story play out in much the same way as a film would. Clearly there is the wider question around games and whether they should really be trying to emulate film or literature when it comes to narrative, given that it’s an interactive medium. For the most part I think games shouldn’t try too hard to emulate cinema- nevertheless I do think there is a place for well written games where you are essentially along for the ride (story wise), like TLOU.

          Joel was never a faceless, silent avatar like Gordon Freeman – he is a character in his own right, and someone who has clearly had to do many distasteful and violent things to survive in an ugly world. We even play as Ellie for a good chunk of the game, so it never felt to me as though Joel was my avatar in the game world – even when I was controlling him.

          In terms of him letting the doctors kill Ellie, it wouldnt have made any kind of sense based on the development of the characters and their relationship over the course of the game. The violence he metes out is shocking and is designed to be so. We have heard throughout the story that Joel is a violent man and has done nasty things to survive- when the one thing he cares about is threatened, we see that animalisitic violence come to the fore, and it doesnt look much different to the behaviour of some of the games less salubrious characters. Throughout the course of the game we’ve repeatedly witnessed the barbarity and cruelty of the survivors to each other, Joel was jaded and emotionally numb to begin with and ultimately humanity doesn’t look particularly worth saving – certainly not at the cost of his pseudo-daughter’s life.

          I actually interpreted his “lie” at the end as being not altogether selfish (although saving her, in many ways was), to me it felt very much like a lie to protect Ellie, misguided as that may have been, and allow her to live without guilt. I have to say I too felt as though she didnt fully believe Joel either, but that she was ok with not questioning it too deeply in order for the two of them to find some peace at last. Although reading that article above (Thanks Sabsbot!) it seems like I was wrong!

          • Pazguato says:

            You wasn’t wrong with Ellie’s ok, everybody thought the same. :)

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    quietone says:

    TQ:IT is one of the few games I never uninstall, because I still go back every now and then. It’s beautiful, it’s deep and simple at the same time (vital features of a good ARPG), it’s elegant, it had the perfect pace as well, it used savepoints but in a reasonable, logic way.

    Yeah, if the Pope would allow it, I would marry it.

    Wait, I am not a Catholic….mmmmh…

  29. HisDivineOrder says:

    I like the hindsight discussion of the guys who made this game and the enthusiasm they had. It doesn’t matter that the game tanked. There are a lot of people who enjoyed it and the shame of it is that in today’s environment, this developer would have done well imo.

    That said, I did not like this game. Not when it was new, not years later when I bought it from Game2Drive for $5 in the early days of the HUGE Steam sales, and not any day since.

    But for my money, this game was not very well designed. Others disagree. That’s what makes Kickstarter grand, right? ;)

  30. Moddus says:

    I’d love to see an article about those moments. I mean really it’s one of the most beautiful things in games these days. Like when I first saw the ready rooms of NS2 I was so captivated that I didn’t want to join a team and start shooting/biting people. Or many of the quiet moments of Dark Souls, Strider, The Banner Saga, Transistor, and more. Games that often try to ramp up a temptation of urgency of becoming captivated with the agency of play yet craft environments that make it so utterly hard to begin that dance.
    Often in these games I pretend that my character is just trying to revel in the golden moments of their scenery/lives before they enter what is so often the carnage of gameplay, but really that’s often a self serving justification to linger in gorgeous environments.

  31. syllopsium says:

    Titan Quest is very pretty, fast paced and works well on a 3D monitor, even the lower resolution passive Zalmans like I have.

    Fooga44 nails the flaw though – the combat just isn’t interesting. The pacing is also off; far too much filler between boss fights and a lacklustre transition to the area beyond them. I got as far as the first monster (M) and was immediately plunged into fighting the same old monsters in an uninteresting city setting if I remember correctly.

    Icewind Dale isn’t an action RPG as such but it was perfectly paced, kept changing the scenario, included some tactics and had a better indication of which weapons are valuable.

    I’d rate Magicka highly but that seemed to suffer from not being able to hit key combinations quickly enough and being too twitchy for my liking.

    If it’s woth persevering let me know, but when I managed to drag myself away from TQ my assessment was that it was addictive but shallow. TQ is like eating a Mcdonalds – it’s food, sort of, but leaves you feeling empty and unsatisfied. Icewind Dale is a pleasant meal with friends on a sunny day, whilst Planescape Torment is a sumptuous five course dinner, held for no discernible reason in a fetish club.

  32. fenriz says:

    I think it’s just a diablo/WoW clone.

  33. cthulhie says:

    Oh man, the Dream Mastery specialization is great! It feels a bit powerful, but I think that’s part of the charm of any of these games.

    Per a discussion here last week, I broke down and bought Diablo 3. And I’ve really been hoping that it would make me feel the way I feel about Titan Quest. And it really hasn’t. Which I actually don’t blame on the game (aside from a few key tonal missteps), but rather on the way that Titan Quest and Torchlight introduced an experience so aggressively pleasant to play that it felt novel in its own right.

    There’s been a recent groundswell of writing on games as insight into the specific life experiences going on while you were playing them. I think it’s best summed up by this fantastic line from Kat Lake:
    “I can work to understand what [certain games] meant to me at those times in my life, but setting out to make a Zelda game I’ll enjoy in 2013 the same way I enjoyed Zelda in 1987 is charting an expedition to a continent that sank.”
    http://trashbabes.com/Chastain/PhantomGames/phantomgames.html

    I’m enjoying it, mind you. But it’s not That Game I Played In 2007 You Remember the One and the Time We Were All a Bit Smoother and Even in Times of Sorrow the Sun Shone Warmer Þæt wæs gōd Game!

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