Imagine a fast-paced action-RPG that combines the brutal, satisfying combat of Diablo with the detailed character building of World of Warcraft. It's a top-down MMO that takes place in an intricate and storied world full of mythical enemies and powerful loot. It's a game that sends you and dozens of friends dungeon running together, obliterating hordes of enemies with kaleidoscopic spells. You slay enormous bosses, you level up and you contribute to the glory of your guild.
There's a great big space in MMO land where that game should be. Mythos spectacularly fails to fill it.
It's as though someone has looked at other MMOs and tried to copy them by including all of the necessary parts, but without any knowledge of why they're useful, or how to make them work properly. There's crafting, because MMOs have crafting, right? Except it's an impenetrable series of screens that fails to tell you which components you need to make what. There's a world map, but it doesn't show you where you are, or where anything else is. Instead you're better off navigating using the obstructive minimap overlay.
There are quests, too, because MMOs are supposed to have lots of quests, yeah? Except there aren't enough quests, they're randomly scattered throughout the bland environment, and all of them boil down to something like “The Crown of Mo has fallen into the hands of the Blorklings. Go and steal the Crown of Mo from the Blorklings. Also, kill King Blork.”
Who are the Blorklings? What is the crown of Mo? Does King Blork really need to die? There are no answers because the world of Mythos is a world without lore. Its people exist to hand out fetch-quests, and the lands are only as big as they are to make fetching things a chore.
In fact, killing King Blork will be the best part of the quest. For all its disjointed systems, combat in Mythos isn't too bad. Fighting is very much based on the Diablo model: you click foes to attack directly, and can access a series of more advanced skills on the task bar. Abilities differ across three classes: the Bloodletter whacks things in close combat and can summon fleshy minions, the Gadgeteer can attack from afar with muskets and crossbows, and the Pyromancer can burn enemies with the power of his mind. Each class has three skill trees where skill points earned by levelling can be assigned to unlock new moves, but these will often be wildly unbalanced. Some are utterly useless, and others, like most of the Pyromancer abilities, will reduce enemies to smouldering ash in seconds.
Mythos is at least generous with its pricing system. You can play the entire game for free, and use the item store to buy such conveniences as temporary inventory expansions, fast-travel charms, and cooldownfree health potions, priced at between 20-70p each. There's also a £10 retail edition of the game that comes with an in-game pet and a bundle of identification charms, experience-boost items and a summonable merchant NPC. Bought individually, these items are cost slightly more than if you went with the boxed version, but it's not worth the gamble when you can try out the game for free.
The real price of Mythos is the investment of time it requires for you to become powerful. With the recent explosion of free-to-play MMOs, there's no shortage of online RPGs that promise more long-term rewards for all those hours of levelling. Many of Mythos's problems may stem from its fraught inception, and there's a great idea at its heart, but in practice it offers a disjointed and strangely lonely experience
Occasionally satisfying combat can’t overcome a bland world, unbalanced skills and obtuse crafting systems. What a mess.