First Impressions: Mythos

I can sum this MMO up in one sentence: If you liked Diablo, you'll like this.

However, I sense that you'd like more from this than a mere summary, so I'm happy to oblige. Bear in mind that Mythos, by Flagship Studios, the guys who gave us Hellgate: London, is still in Beta, so any of what I report here can change at any time. Still, it looks great, it performs well, and it scratches that Diablo itch like nothing else. So I suppose you could say that this is a hit, rather than a myth. BWAHAHAHAHAHAAA! Oh, my pleasures are so few.

%Gallery-10781%
Now, having said right up front that Mythos resembles Diablo, I'm going to refrain from pointing out every instance of similarity, as that would quickly become tiresome. Instead, I'll just talk about the features and leave it to you, the Astute Reader, to make the connections yourselves. Deal?

Fans of Deadwood, rejoice: Annie Oakley is alive and well in Mythos!
So, let's look at the character creation screen. Blizzard must be happy that they got it right the first time, because so many MMOs use their interface that whenever you create a new character nowadays, you immediately get that thrill of recognition. Sometimes that's good, as in when you feel comfortable enough to ease yourself right into things. Sometimes it's bad, as in when it makes you wish you were playing World of Warcraft instead.

But hey, Mythos has a leg up on WoW -- as you can see above, my character Cirocco isn't any lame old elf or Draenei. No, she's a satyr! She's just, y'know, got the ears of an elf. And the horns of a Draenei. Completely different. *cough*

I pick my profession, Gadgeteer, and drop in. I go through some basic killin' stuff before I make it to the first town, just enough to recognize the familiar: click on a point to travel there, hold mouse button down to keep walking. Click on critter to attack it, click on dropped items to loot. Rinse and repeat, but I have to say, blasting monsters with a double-barreled shotgun is so satisfying I stop saying the D-word to myself for the rest of playtime.

Here I am at the gate of the first town, and there's the ubiquitous exclamation point, sigh. If pressed, I could think of a few things to replace that, but by this point, it's standard in every MMO, so I'd better stop whingeing about it. Clicking on another character, however, brings up the interface you see above. That's for other players; you get different choices for NPCs. Incidentally, I'm not sure why there's a perfectly serviceable cart marooned here at the gate, but the roasted wallabies it contained were delicious.

There's not a whole lot to tell about the town itself, only that it's filled with the standard assortment of characters with items to sell, quests to undertake, and architecture to admire. Everything about the game looks nice, I'll admit; the light bloom is subtle, the color palette is refined, and character details and animations make it clear that the developers really care about presentation. Onward, dear friends, to a few interface windows.

Thinking better of my earlier remarks, I shouldn't say that it's all derivative of Diablo; there's a bit of WoW in here too. But you know, when you, as a developer, come from Blizzard stock, certain things are bound to rub off on you. And really, why reinvent the wheel? So here's the equipment interface, no surprises, but an interesting feature: pressing the 'W' key will let you switch between weapon sets. You can equip your long-range weapon in one set, then switch to melée when your opponent closes the distance. Nice and easy; baked right in.

And here is the WoW-like Skills flowchart. As you can see, being a Gadgeteer means playing with tech, and having a class like this in an otherwise predominantly Fantasy-oriented MMO hits all my Steampunk buttons just right!

Here's the lovely World Map, local region displayed, which updates with the locations of new quests as you're given them, which is a nice feature, though I'm sure some will deride it for being too 'newbie-friendly'. Whatever; sometimes I just wanna be told where things are, knowhadimsayin?

And here is the complete World Map. Notice the suspicious-looking circular areas to the West. I don't know if I just wasn't paying attention, and they're explained in the opening sequence of the game or something, but damn if they aren't provocative! Though if they're impact craters, then perhaps I ought to start putting points into Hazmat Suit Creation, like, yesterday.

Anyway, back to the task at hand. Speaking to this priest offers me my first quest, to rid a nearby abbey of its unwelcome visitors. Couple of things here: I've always hated having to have keys to open treasure chests you come across randomly. My thinking is why make something so trivial a challenge at all? I remember slogging through a dungeon full of nasties to get to the reward at the end, only to have to trudge back to the surface, miles away, just because I didn't realize I was out of keys and couldn't unlock the prize. Seriously, kids, let's lose this convention to the mists of time, whaddaya say?

The other thing: clicking on NPCs gets an introductory snippet of voice acting. It's not ... bad acting, necessarily, but like the keys, unnecessary.

Here I am, boomstick jokes, etc. Nice thing about the shotgun, it's possible to upgrade your skills to be able to hit multiple targets with one shot. These early critters are easy enough to take out without that, but I'm guessing I'll want to have this enabled later on. Incidentally, at first I lamented the lack of WASD movement, but realized that in this fixed, isometric view, it's just as well you have to point-and-click.

Neat feature redux: When your character is occluded by objects, you get this nifty x-ray effect, which can be extremely helpful at times. Plus, y'know, it's just kinda kewl.

Yeah, it's a rock. You can click on it to roll it over. What happens then? Frequently nothing. Note to developers: just 'cause you can, doesn't mean you should.

The little critters of nature -- they don't know that they're ugly! But they do have THE shiniest weapons!

What on earth would possess someone to fill a baptismal font with blood and hang a sigil above it to imply that drinking from it would be good for you? But, sure, let's say that's just normal; who'd drink from it anyway, knowing that it's GOT to be filled with slobber from dire wolves with glowing eyes?

See, here's that glow effect I was talking about. One of the benefits of featuring a camera system that remains fixed: you get to have some pretty sweet visuals. I wanted to dive into that pool right away after slaughtering everything in this room. I mean, come on, there's a ray of light from Heaven shining on it! Then I noticed the sign that read 'There's no 'P' in our 'Ool'', and a ton of childhood memories flooded back, filling me with shame. I gathered my loot and left, red-faced.

Here's the only graphics glitch I noticed. Now, unless this whole city is actually a clever illusion, and I'm not really standing on a bridge, I'm pretty sure my shadow shouldn't be showing there beneath me, in the lower right-hand corner of the screenshot. But you know, what the hell. This is a Beta, they're allowed. Oh man, I totally forgot to send them a note telling them about this. Hmm. What're the chances they're reading this right now? I'd better sum up.

All in all, I have to say that I really enjoyed playing Mythos. Diablo-esque or not, it's a really fun casual game with some depth to its Skill system. Unlike many MMOs, when you strike a monster, you see the effect right away, as opposed to the usual 'make attacking motions and watch numbers appear above opponent's head' style of damage display. I appreciated the graphics, the sounds, the map-quest system -- it's a pretty solid experience. Best of all, it seems like something you can play for quite a while solo, which, if you recall, I'm pretty serious about. Even in Beta, this is one title you'd be well-advised to try out; I should know, I'm the one advising it!

This article was originally published on Massively.