Titan Souls Review
Developer: Acid Nerve.
Publisher: Devolver Digital.
Platforms: PlayStation, PC.
Game Length: 3-4 hours.
Platinum Trophy Difficulty: 9-10/10, highly dependent on player skill.
Titan Souls puts players in control of an unnamed hero, who is equipped with a bow and a single arrow, as they venture across a gorgeous pixel styled world, on a journey to slay a plethora of creatures known as Titans. Shadow of the Colossus fans will instantly notice the similarities, and it’s obvious Titan Souls is proudly inspired by the premise of the PlayStation 2 classic. This includes similar profound questions around whether or not players are the hero or the villain of the story. Despite these parallels, Titan Souls is still able to produce a unique (albeit short) and challenging experience, offering a simplified combat system which is easy to comprehend, yet tough to master, and an array of memorable and incredibly fun encounters to overcome.
As mentioned, players are put in the shoes of an unknown hero who must defeat monsters across the land to progress throughout the game. While the story itself is quite basic, there are enough narrative hints to allow players to interpret what is happening, especially if players defeat each and every boss to find the true ending. The main theme surrounds the heroic or villainous aspects of our hero. Each monster is found within their own domain, and almost every single monster ignores the player once they enter. Thus, forcing the player to almost always strike the first blow to begin the encounter. Showing its Shadow of the Colossus influences, players can interrupt who is the true villain of the story is from these moments. As the “monsters” never attack the player, there is an argument that the player is the one instigating these acts of aggression, as they rampage through the world cutting down each beast in their path for their own selfish goal of progression. Personally, I love how Titan Souls delivers these questions to the player, but for those wanting to simply progress through the game, they are not forced to engage with these questions if they do not wish.
It must be said, Titan Souls is a short game. My first playthrough was completed within three and a half hours, and while upon completion, additional modes unlock, this experience may be too short for the average player. Titan Souls has been developed with replayability in mind, with additional modes such as Hard Mode, No Roll Mode (self-explanatory), and Iron Mode, which requires players to finish the game in one life all available. While these modes are appreciated, I would have loved some sort of leaderboard system to compare my performances with others, which I think would have encouraged replayability even further.
Speaking of rolling, the ability to dodge is one of the few tactics that players must employ to defeat their enemies. Players are armed with a bow and one single arrow, which once fired, must be collected before more damage can be unleashed. While players can physically go and collect their arrow, they can also summon it back to themselves Magneto style. Utilising this method provides risk and reward to the player. For instance, summoning your arrow can take time and players are vulnerable during this time. However, if summoned with enough velocity, the returning arrow can damage foes and even defeat them. This technique adds depth to a simplistic combat system, which is easy to understand, but difficult to master.
Players must skilfully utilise the combat system as they will fail upon a single hit. However, this same one hit aspect is also present in the enemies you face. Yes, you heard right, every boss in the game can be defeated with one hit to its designated weak point. But it’s not as simple as it sounds. Almost every boss has puzzle-like elements regarding how to access their weak point and deliver the final blow. For instance, hitting a magical arrow which is wielded by an intimidating knight will expose his weak body, which is typically hidden under his knightly garments, or in another encounter, the arrow must be ingested by the enemy allowing the summoning technique to then drag the boss to their impending doom. Figuring out how to defeat each boss is half the battle and coming up with the solution to these scenarios provides some brilliant ‘aha’ moments.
The biggest frustration I had with Titan Souls involves the respawn system players encounter upon their death. Unlike games like Celeste, Super Meat Boy or Trials, where players instantly respawn allowing them to continue their progress, Titan Souls sends players to a nearby spawn point instead. Now, for the most part, it only takes 10-15 seconds to return to your previous boss encounter, but when you die a lot (and you will) these short trips can add up and really interrupt the flow of the encounter. It was frustrating to make the trip back to each boss room, especially when some of my attempts lasted less than the trip required to restart the fight. While this isn’t a major issue, I can see some players finding the lack of instantaneously restarting each boss fight frustrating, especially during quick deaths.
Each boss encounter is frenetic, challenging, and memorable. All of which are further enhanced due to the energetic musical score that accompanies each boss encounter. The music featured throughout Titan Souls manages to capture a range of emotions, from the serene calming moments players encounter when they explore the hub world, to the enthralling moment to moment gameplay of battle, to the eery silence that hangs in the air before a boss fight begins. Titan Souls benefits greatly from the soundtrack, and the sound design in general helps delivers a magnificent atmosphere across the entire adventure.
Titan Souls has a gorgeous pixel art style, which is reminiscent of Hyperlight Drifter and Celeste. Minor visual details are found across the land to help elevate the unknown journey players will encounter, such as footprints leading to a creature’s lair, gusts of wind lightly flowing across the screen, and the puff of dirt and grass rising from the ground as players explore. Each boss is also visually striking, and while some are more unique than others, each is vastly different from the last. There are also a number of biomes to explore in Titan Souls, and this is where the visual creativity lacks. Players will encounter the typical snow, lava, forest, and castle-based biomes that most games tend to offer. Each location does look beautiful, but players have seen these biomes so many times before, that some visual diversity would have been appreciated.
Fantastic music, enhancing the atmosphere of the world and frenetic pace of boss encounters.
Simplified combat is easy to understand but requires expertise to master.
Challenging boss encounters with unique puzzle-like elements.
Beautiful pixel art visuals.
Returning to boss encounters upon respawn could be faster.
Short game length.
Titan Souls has strong gameplay and narrative influences from classic games such as The Legend of Zelda and Shadow of the Colossus. But don’t let the simplified combat fool you, Titan Souls is difficult and gameplay time will highly fluctuate depending on player skill. The pixel art style is gorgeous, and the musical score is truly epic. Though some players may find the repetitive return trips to boss rooms upon their defeat annoying, it doesn’t diminish the brilliance that Titan Souls offers.
I highly recommend Titan Souls, especially to those who love an atmospheric indie game with a decent challenge. The Score: 8.5
Jamiex66 loves checking out indie games, and for all his latest video game content you can follow him on Instagram.