In the midst of much negativity, one of the better aspects of Mythos is in the visual department. The character models are well created, if a little bland, and the environments are colorful and vivid enough to make anyone want to venture forth and commit animal genocide. The outstanding feature of this title is that it is so brilliantly lively, nothing seems to follow the usual hi-def trend of browns and grays, and for this we get a eye-catching piece of software, but almost like everything with HanbitSoft’s resurrected title, pull just a little at its fabric and it comes apart at the seams.
A major downside for me is that it simply looks too similar to Blizzard’s offerings, and Torchlight (made by exiles of the aforementioned). Within this genre, if there is one game that you do not want to ape in any way to avoid mass derision from an angry community, it is World of Warcraft. While it is understandable that Mythos will retain a leaning towards its hack and slash kin and its orc versus human cousin, I cannot see that why, within a near decade-long development cycle, this couldn’t have been phased out at some point. For all of its color and interesting environments, you can’t help but see other games within it, and this spoils a lot of the good will created by the visuals.
Another sticking point with the graphical trappings is the designs of the dungeons themselves. While they are randomly generated, they look dull and outdated. The places to explore within the game feel like nothing more than 3D recreations of Diablo 2’s locations. There is little else other than small corridor paths and rooms bustling with monsters. Of course each dungeon has a theme whether it is magically imbued ore, or crypt, but apart from the wallpaper, there is little changed the decoration. It will still be several corridors, several rooms, and a complete void in interest. Having recently trampled back through Torchlight, the magnificent multi-floored mines and crypts that can be sought are light years ahead in terms of impressiveness.
With all shortcomings of environment, combat, and creativity, one aspect which the game should raise head shoulders above its negatives is in the multiplayer aspect, and again this is a mixed affair. The social side of this game flits between the shouts of “STFU NEWB” and the gentle lullaby cries of gold sellers trying to peddle their wares. What little interaction I did have with others generally was in the context of trying to form a group together, and while there is fun to be had here, none of the dungeons generally feel adventurous enough to conjure any feelings of tension or danger as you plumb the depths.
The combat is the most fun when joined with others, the messy violence of it all is entertaining, and will have you pounding your desk in recognition of exactly what Mythos has exactly tried to achieve, but these moments come fleetingly. At core this is a game that feels developed as a single-player experience – exactly like its forbearers. The element of an MMO world seems to have been thrust upon it, rather than created fundamentally in mind. The quests are usually fairly easy to accomplish, and the idea of grinding anything for pure exploration or compulsive need is only ever backed up with the idea of some sort of mission. This is true for most of the genre these days, but little is done here to really enhance the idea of social and cooperative play between players. It’s a shame because it is easily the games most interesting aspect, and yet least used.
What Mythos should be, and sadly falls majorly short of, is an extension to that Diablo/Dungeon Siege sense of adventure and foreboding as a party undertakes an exhilarating dungeon crawl. The location which you plumb should be a tense and exciting place, each new corridor and room unveiling a marvel of treasure or horrific monstrosity – the boss battles themselves should be a romp of scares and trials as you try and best the deep dark evil of this long-since forsaken lair. Except Mythos doesn’t do this; its randomly created dungeons are a snooze fest, and the boss battles are an exercise in who can guzzle as many potions as possible. The multiplayer aspect surely is the major draw, and the stand-out feature, and yet the ensemble as a whole falls to a stumbling walk as the possibilities of what has been created jog on ahead.
With all of this in mind, you will be forgiven for questioning exactly why you should spend your time within this certain online beat-em-up. The amount of time that any player will devote to any MMORPG vastly depends on subjective reasons, or that age old dilemma of end game content, but for Mythos things again take a turn for the worse. Simply put, I cannot see anyone spending much time within the title after the first ten levels. What little there is to see has largely been seen by the first 2 hours, and in reality, without any kind of story what else does this title offer except for frantic mouse clicks?
In what is largely a disappointment from start to finish, Mythos surprisingly comes up with the goods in terms of value in its “F2P” context. Like any so called free game, this hack ‘n’ slash cheats somewhat as eventually the need to part with cash is necessary, but HanbitSoft are a little more humane and stick to the initial promise more than most.
Largely the in-game item shop contains cosmetic items, and general shortcuts. Things such as portable auction houses and XP potions are here, but largely unneeded. The only real necessities come from the inventory expanders, which annoyingly only last for 7 days at a time. The in-game currency “Bones” can be earned by taking part in sponsored advertisements, and while lots of items are fairly cheap, this is a slight pleasant surprise at the end of what has been a laborious strain through a boring game, but it is always nice to come up with a slight smile after going through a terrible ordeal. Sort of like the comic-relief at the end of an intense action-packed thriller like Die Hard. The item shop turns to you, quips about things getting real heated as they point to the soul-destruction that is off in the distance, and like John McClane you grin wearily, wipe the sweat from your brow and head to the back of ambulance, safe at last.
And so to conclude, Mythos is a sad disappointment. Where it could be a brilliant innovation of the Action RPG genre, it falls someway short of the mark. The mechanics feel archaic, the class system is derivative, and the ensemble as a whole feels like a missed opportunity. It’s great that the game made it out, and before Torchlight it probably would have held more relevance. But Mythos desperately needed some real attention when HanbitSoft got the code, and I’m left believing it just didn’t receive it. I’m actually glad Flagship’s Mythos team dropped this when the company fell and went on to make Torchlight instead. Grab yourself stiff drink, and bring out a calendar folks... it’s going to be a long wait for Diablo 3 and Torchlight 2.