Over the last few weeks, gamers have been treated to some of the most brutally difficult games. Titles such as Bloodborne and Dark Souls 2: Scholar of the First Sin have tested our mentality, patience, and resolve. Developer Acid Nerve continues to test that our skills and patience once again with Titan Souls, an Indie title that takes cues from 8-Bit boss battles of yore.
Titan Souls not only tests your resolve but makes it a fun experience doing so. The game puts you in control of a character armed with a bow and a single arrow as you hunt down massive Titans. Unfortunately, the game features no real story to delve into. Titan Souls gives you no explanation to what is happening in the world, and I found myself constantly asking “why am I hunting these Titans?” As I progressed, I was hoping that towards the end it would all be explained, but when the credits rolled I felt as if I was cheated in some way. The lack of any narrative didn’t affect my enjoyment of the overall title, but some may feel a little disappointed.
Although the 8-bit graphics may turn some off, they fit perfectly with the tone of the game, and the small details are something worth mentioning. Trending through snow leaves tiny little footprints, getting set on fire has you fall over dead as a charred body, and getting smashed by a Titan sees small pixels of blood explode out of your character. The musical score is another highlight. The ambient music as players search for the Titans is soothing, but quickly ramps up when encountering the Titans. A blend of orchestral crescendos and blaring rock combine to deliver a soundtrack that I will definitely consider buying if ever released.
What Titan Souls lacks in narrative it more than makes up for in its gameplay. The game is easily accessible and its simplistic controls are a great change from the more complex titles in recent years. Shoot, dodge, and run. These simple controls are all you need to survive in the games many boss encounters. Before finding and taking down Titans, players explore a vast land that seems to float in the sky. As you explore you will swim, climb walls,and trek through forests and snow capped ruins.
Although players won’t encounter any enemies outside of the boss Titans, the game has players solving puzzles to reach some of these Titans. One such puzzle sees a cave that hides a Titan blocked by pillars of Ice. Around the area you find burnt out torches and others still lit. In order to get through the frozen entrance you have to find a way to light the pillars and melt the frozen entrance. I found great pleasure in solving these environmental puzzles and wish the game featured more of them, especially with how many Titans there are to find.
The meat of Titan Souls comes from its great boss battles. Each Titan in the game plays completely different from each other and the variety of each one is quite impressive. Each Titan in itself is kind of puzzle. Each boss has a weak point, this weak point can easily be found by the distinctly different color on the boss. Figuring out how to hit this exposed area is where the game tests you. Learning the attack pattern is just the first step, being able to hit your target is another. Having just one arrow, players will essentially have one shot to kill the boss – if they miss they then have to go and retrieve their arrow, they may run up and grab it off the floor, or magically pull it back toward them. However, be warned, pulling the arrow back will leave you standing still and open to the Titan’s relentless assaults; and seeing as you die in a single attack, you will be restarting the fight quite often.
But the trial and error pattern may not be enough. Some of the Titans will require you to use the environment to hurt the boss. In one encounter I faced a brain trapped in an ice cube. This Titan slid all over the environment trying to hit kill me. In the boss room lay four switches that activated a fire from the center of the room, I then had the think “how do I activate these switches and melt the Ice around the Titan as my character was not heavy enough to activate the switches myself.”
My main complaint with Titan Souls is its length. I was able to reach the credit screen in about an hour and a half and may probably reach it sooner now that I know how to reach the Titans and how to defeat them. The game offers harder difficulty modes once completed for the first time, but most of these will be for the most hardcore players. As a matter of fact one of the game’s trophies asks you to finish the game in less than twenty minutes. With this type of length some people may question the $14.99 price point.
Titan Souls is yet another great Indie title to hit PlayStation 4. The 8-Bit graphics fit the mood of the game perfectly and its music makes every encounter riveting. Figuring out how to defeat each of the Titans filled a void in me that Shadow of the Colossus left two generations ago. It’s just a shame that the game offers no explanation to its events and the game can technically be beaten in less than twenty minutes.