May 30, 2011

Does Mythos Deserve a Second Chance?

What do you get when you band together the former team responsible for Diablo series and the 2005 well-received RPG Fate? It's an amazing team responsible for one of this year's MMORPG sleeper hits: Mythos. Developed first by Flagship Studios, Mythos was made with the notion of the Diablo and Fate games combined in a multiplayer perspective. After Flagship Studios closed down, all the rights were bought and carried over to Hanbitsoft. Taking over Mythos's development, Hanbitsoft picked up where Flagship Studios left and retained the what the original team had in mind. Though Flagship did launch a closed beta test of Mythos, it wasn't until 2011 that the game was once again launched under a different developer and publisher. So, is Mythos deserving of a second chance?

A Myth Defined

Think of Mythos as Diablo or Torchlight deluxe, although in this game, the backstory isn't really clarified. Players are given a choice of 4 races: Human, Cyclops, Satyr and Gremlin. There are only three classes: Bloodletter, Pyromancer and Gadgeteer. The three classes represent the melee, magic and ranged archetypes respectively. Each race also has stat bonuses per class, usually giving higher attributes to a class of their specialty (like Gremlins' high dexterity for Gadgeteer class or Satyr's high wisdom for Pyromancer). Character customization is fairly simple. The game gives a few faces, hairstyles and colors to choose from. Race and classes are not gender-locked too (which is humorous for the Cyclops race since they all look exactly alike).

Upon entering the game for the first time, a starter town with a few tutorial quests and an easy 1-level dungeon is in place. The game has a detailed, yet easy to understand, help window too. Getting the hang of the controls is very much easy. More so, Mythos also has two different camera views: a fixed Isometric view and a free-camera MMO view. The starter town, tutorial quests and help window got new players covered on everything in the game. After a few starting quests, players get the chance to leave the tiny map for greener pastures. Camera angles in free MMO view takes getting used to, and it does get unfriendly when it zooms too close due to the camera bumping an obstacle. Other than that, getting the hang of the game is easy as ABC.

Your Myth in the Making

Building up a character in Mythos is just like Torchlight or Diablo. Each new level gives 5 stat points and 2 skill points to distributre freely. This actually feels like a saving grace from the recent MMORPGs that do automated stat distribution instead. It gives the player full control over the growth of the character. The skills of each class is divided into three separate trees. Each tree generally represents melee, ranged/mana-burning skills, and summon skills. Don't be surprised! All three classes have skills and means to summon AI pets/monsters/contraptions. Also added to the left side of the skill window is a tier bar. Adding skill points to this bar is required in order to unlock the every level of the skill tree. Players can give up to a maximum of 30 skill points to this bar in order to fully unlock the whole skill tree. This allows for a more efficient and strategic way of arranging the character's skills as levels go higher. Though the game is open for hybrid skill builds, the difference against a specialized or "pure” build (so to speak) is too obvious and a bit imbalanced on the latter's favor.

As usual, quests are the staple means of earning levels in the game. There's no need to worry about scarcity too. Most of the quests are in chains and increase in availability as levels progress further. Though material rewards are very generous, exp gain is not as kind. Level progression is slower than the usual MMORPG due to low exp gain from quests and grind. Combat is simple, fun and exciting though, so the need to grind isn't too much of a chore. It's still point and click, but the skills are a lot more accessible. The right mouse button is used as a skill shortcut, apart from the shortcut bar below. The left mouse button, serving as the default attack, can also be replaced by a skill function too. Miraculously, the left mouse button rarely interferes with itself in its mix of attack and movement functions. Also, all offense skills can be activated or used even without a target. Another noticeable aspect in combat is the target and directionality of mid to long-ranged skills. Unlike in other MMORPGs having skills that "hone in” on the target until it hits, most of the skills in Mythos require manual targeting instead. Any player nimble enough with the WASD or mouse movements can easily evade anything thrown at them. Also, non-AOE skills like the Bloodletter's Piercing Fury can still hit multiple targets when positioned correctly.

Mythical Spelunking

Town, plains, and dungeon maps are easy to navigate with due to their small and restricted nature. But the makers of Diablo added a nice treat to spelunking. Dungeon maps are randomly created upon every login. Another nice touch to the game is a dropped item's longevity in the dungeon. Players can return to the floors of a recently-cleared dungeon for any and all loots left scattered on the floor. Just don't expect the items to stay there on the next login. Another feature of the game is its random item generation system like its Blizzard predecessor. Rarities, specialties and stat bonuses are randomly generated in a dropped equip or a gambled one (from the gambling merchant). The possible combinations are practically limitless. It just takes patience to build up the character with good equips and a decent stat build of course.

Mythic Proportions

Suffice to say, the overall presentation of Mythos has made it into the amazing game we see today. It takes a lot of features from the Diablo series, more so because the original developers were with the Diablo team. With the polish given by this team, it won't be surprising to see Mythos at a contending spot in the MMO market's top ten. The simplistic and retro feel of an isometric RPG, combined with the modern elements of multiplayer gaming, make Mythos one of the must-play MMO games this year.

Credits: MMOsite

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