Loki: Heroes of Mythology - PC - Review

Back in 2000, Blizzard released Diablo II for the PC. It was the prototypical hack ‘n slash fantasy title, was a huge seller and set the role-playing solo-player genre on its ear. A year later, an expansion was released, Lords of Destruction, but then Blizzard turned its attention to other titles and Diablo was left to gather dust and entertain players with Battle.net multiplayer action.

A little more than a year ago, Iron Lore Entertainment and THQ revisited the style with Titan Quest, a game that was decently received (GameZone's Review).

Cyanide and Dreamcatcher have tossed their collective hats into the ring with Loki: Heroes of Mythology, a title that revisits the glorious days of solo-player hack ‘n slash role playing. This is D2 and Titan Quest, with the same general formats in terms of finite zone maps, point-and-click controls, quests and treasures to uncover. You kill, you loot, you upgrade skills and armor.  

The story thread follows the god of chaos and evil, freed from its resting place in the desert. While you do have four distinct cultures, the game weaves nicely between the civilizations. You have the Egyptians opening a portal and storming through to attack a Norse village, and so on. Basically, Seth has been resurrected and is hell-bent on conquering the universe, which means invading the philosophical regions and holds of other gods. He has no compunctions about interfering and seems to have no end to the mindless minions who would follow his manic orders.

The ultimate goal, of course, is to power up, work through the quest lines and battle Seth. But to do that, you will traverse similar terrain, moving through the world. You are often moving from one side of a zone through to another, with your direct path impeded by mobs, and other noteworthy stops – such as random chests that contain booty you will want to pillage.

But while the game does cross over through the various mythologies, what does separate this from a hodge-podge of cultures is that within each of the mythos you will be able to do quests specific to that culture. There is a nice little Norse line that will have you working to free Odin from Fenrir. The quest has several parts, some of which are of the fetch variety, but there is a satisfying conclusion to the affair.

A quick breakdown of the four character classes are as follows:

It’s all Greek to me …

You play the part of a female heroine who begins by taking part in the Heraklion tournament, a competition attended by the greatest warriors of Crete. Because your hero(ine) is Greek, she worships Greek gods, in this case it is Athena and Artemis. That means the skill trees are related to those gods, as well as Ares. For Artemis, this means bow-driven skills, while Athena is for melee attacks. You can pick the path you want, going either heavily toward bow or founding yourself in close combat or magic. And, obviously, you can be a balanced warrior. The key here, and with every one of the mythologies, is that you have three skill trees you can venture down in order to create the warrior you want to play. The Greek heroine is one of the more balanced of the available fighters, blending melee and ranged attacks.

Aztec, and you shall receive (or bad puns abound) …

Here you will play as a shaman, capable of changing your shape to an animal form, and calling up pets to fight for you. You begin in the hub with a purification ritual. You are suddenly attacked and must use your base skills to beat back the jellyfish-like attackers. Speaking to your pudgy high priest, you find out that he has had a premonition of a great catastrophe befalling the people.

The Aztec shaman is much harder to start as than the Greek warrior. She has a basic ranged attack, but the first level mobs are harder to tackle in groups with so little skill, armor and weapons. It is wise to use both the ranged attacks and melee as quickly as you can pick up a sword or close-combat weapon.  

The god-related skill trees are for Quetzalcoatl, Tezcatlipoca, and Miclantecuhtli. These involve buffs, transformative spells and even one that allows the heroine and allies to cross into a spirit plane. The latter seems to change the color of the environment, but initially seems to have little other purpose other than to give the caster a mana boost.

A Norse, of course …

The first thing you will notice is that this hulking giant has the soft voice of a man half his stature. The gods-related skill trees are for Thor, Tyr and Odin. Steeped in Norse mythos, the game does a nice job of blending the strife of the gods with the story in place. This is a melee class but rather than exhibiting pure brute strength, you will have to temper skills like a bull-like charge with the number of enemies you face. The Norse warrior is sturdy, though, and can take a fair amount of punishment.

Not a state of de Nile, but still Egyptian …

The Egyptians are out to wipe barbarians from the horizons of the world to proclaim the reign of Seth over the world. Using a portal you show up in … guess where? the village of the Norse character. After the battle, though, Isis pulls you away and helps you to find the true path. The skill trees belong to Ra, Horus and Seth.  This is a ranged magical attack and the Egyptian will run up against a host of foul creatures, like giant scarabs, and initially you may find a hit-and-run tactic to be beneficial.

While the classes vary, the formula is more or less the same. Some of the classes are significantly weaker as you begin and it is much easier to take on the role of a balance melee class while learning the nuances of the game. Still, though, this is a relatively easy game to learn to play.

Expect load times – this game is not seamless and you will move from map to map through glowing blue barriers. Pathing is hit or miss. At times you will run through an area and not even trees can slow you down as you clip right through them; but then there are the times when you will get hung up on a rock, or trapped against the loading barrier or even boxed in by monsters.

The game is rife with misspellings and mispronunciations. Imposter is spelled and pronounced ‘imposture,’ for example. This can be a distraction.

Graphically, the game is played from the third-person perspective though the camera does rotate and zoom in to afford you a better view of the action. The combat animations are fine and the variety of monsters, though working off familiar themes, gets the job done in terms of the various mythologies presented.

Loki definitely does not work into new territory. If you played Diablo 2, then you know exactly what you are getting into with this title. However, that does not preclude the game from being both entertaining and challenging.

Review Scoring Details for Loki: Heroes of Mythology

Gameplay: 7.7
Ugghh – point and click is so five years ago! Ok, that aside, the game does have a few clipping issues, but controls reasonably well. Pathing seems to be well designed.  

Graphics: 7.5
The game has some very good moments and some moments when it seems to be rehashing itself. The environments are randomly generated, but that means redundancy. Still, the combat animations and effects work.

Sound: 7.0
More or less what one would expect. The game does a decent job with supporting the different environments.  

Difficulty: Medium/Hard
The game is very forgiving at the ‘mortal’ level, but you are in for a stiff challenge if you ramp up the difficulty setting.   

Concept: 7.0
Been there and done that, in many ways. The new environments and mythology overlap, though, is nice.

Multiplayer: 8.0
Much more fun to team up and play with someone else than to venture alone.

Overall: 7.7
This is one of those games that is very familiar, but still entertaining. Loki treads familiar ground, but still manages to provide a treat for those who enjoy a good old-fashioned hack ‘n slash. There is adventure here, somewhat predictable at times, but ramp up the difficulty level and you will find the adrenaline pumping just a bit as wave after wave of baddies rumble toward you.

Good

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