'Titan Souls' Review: Intense Boss Battles, No Soul
Titan Souls played at a number of festivals and expos over the last year and always left a lasting impression, but it was easy to wonder if the entertaining demo was sustainable across an entire game. It turns out that it was smart to worry, as Titan Souls is a strong game in fits and spurts but isn’t cohesive enough to make for a thrilling experience.
Titan Souls is infamous for being a game comprised solely of boss battles, a title that instantly drew comparisons to Shadow of the Colossus mixed with a little bit of Dark Souls. It makes sense because your unnamed, uncared-about character only has one arrow with which to deal the killing blow on the many bosses throughout the game, and you usually won’t the first time. Or the second. Or the ninth.
No, you’ll learn how to kill these giant beasts only after many, many deaths, shooting your measly little arrow again and again until you figure out their patterns and weak spots, hoping they don't kill you before you at least learn something. One hit is one kill, and while you can do a little roll to get away from danger you're never sure just what you're getting into.
It makes for a alternately thrilling and frustrating experience. Killing a titan is incredibly fun but the many deaths (and travels to the boss battle, because you don’t actually retry it straight from the fight) start to grate, especially since there’s no story or impetus behind any of your actions. You don’t know why you’re killing these beasts, or if it’s the right thing to do in the first place. It's the final battle of any other game, where you're hanging on to one measley point of life, hoping to get that final hit in before you're killing yourself; which is enthralling, but not over and over again.
You’re left wondering why you bothered at all.
But Titan Souls is certainly a game for achievement whores. If you're interested in challenge and have the time to put in you will certainly find a lot of fun to be had here, but it's all about identifying patterns and killing things as fast as possible. The game won't make you better at it a la Dark Souls, it will make you memorize it. Each boss seems to have their own specific conditions to beat that will earn you another achievement, all of it culminating in the hardest task, beating the whole game in 20 minutes, a seemingly impossible feat.
Titan Souls was born of a game jam, and feels it. Hugely entertaining at moments, beautifully arranged and unique, it unfortunately wasn't fleshed out enough to offer the experience it could have been.
Titan Souls was reviewed from a Steam code provided by the publisher. It’s also available on PS4/PS Vita via crossbuy, although the Vita version is apparently plagued with long loading times. I played it with a DualShock 4 controller, as the game recommends you use a controller for it.