Twelve years have passed since the original release of Titan Quest on PC, a forever span of time in the rapidly evolving landscape of gaming. In 2006, Titan Quest was a refreshing take on the isometric action-RPG genre dominated by dungeon crawlers like Diablo and its many clones and wannabes. A mashup of Greek, Asian, and Egyptian mythology, Titan Quest's setting and monsters made it stand out, even while its gameplay didn't do much to innovate on that of its peers.
In the decade since the game was released, we've not only seen the superlative evolution of the Diablo franchise, but also the appearance of at least a half dozen other hack-and-slash titles that have added new mechanics or elegant refinements of existing ones. Games like Path of Exile, Victor Vran, Torchlight, Grim Dawn, and The Incredible Adventures of Van Helsing have all garnered followings and continue to release content updates and sequels.
In 2016, Titan Quest 10th Anniversary edition was released, bringing the game up to something approximating recent graphical standards, improving AI, and adding such features as Steam workshop support. Most recently, Titan Quest has been re-released for PS4 and the 4K generation of consoles.
For anyone who missed it the first few times around, Titan Quest's gameplay will be instantly familiar to even casual hack-and-slash players. You play as a male or female hero, traveling through the ancient Greek, Egyptian, and Chinese landscapes in search of the Telkines, lesser Titans who have enslaved the Titans of mythic Olympus. Along the way you defeat hordes of enemies, some based on ancient mythology, and collect gold, weapons, armor, and more. Although it was full of chatty mission-giving NPCs, unlike later games, Titan Quest's environment was relatively non-destructable and static.
Missing the ability to mod the game, and lacking the option for local co-op, the console release of Titan Quest feels like a game in search of a real purpose. With improved textures, lighting, and effects, the game certainly looks light years ahead of the 2006 original, but doesn't really look like a game built for the 4K console generation. Character design and animations can only be cosmetically improved so much. The one-button combat is much more simplistic than that of recent RPGs, and attacks feel less than impactful.
While the new console version does a good job of mapping the controls to the Dual Shock, and some of the game's UI has been made a little friendlier with a new radial menu and item descriptions, there are noticeable issues with the precision and speed of character movement. Small visual anomalies abound, be they framerate fluctuations in battle, strange artifacts at the border between moving objects, or characters glitching on the environment.
For its time, Titan Quest was not a bad game. Its setting was a relief from the D&D-inspired medieval fantasy worlds that dominated RPGs, and its hack-and-slash gameplay was easily up to the standards of its day. But this new release -- cosmetically better but lacking the overhaul that would really help the game stand up to current titles -- doesn't go far enough. I wouldn't go so far as to call it a cynical cash-grab, but I am disappointed that it not only fails to make the original Titan Quest experience much better, it adds some additional flaws and strips away some of the potential for enjoyment.