Titan Souls was frustrating. I’m no stranger to tough boss fights, my disgustingly high number of hours in Dark Souls will testify to that. But being forced to operate on two-dimensions with only one weapon and controls that would feel better on a SNES gamepad really got to me.
Titan Souls is a throwback game from the team at Acid Nerve that plays heavily on two aspects.
Nostalgia, and masochism.
The visuals are like something you would see from a top-tier, in house Nintendo game from the early 90s. The colours are vibrant, and the 16-bit graphic style ensures everything runs super smooth. The environments run the classic gamut of outdoor courtyards with flowing waterfalls and ivy-laced granite to snow covered winter landscapes and lava covered brick red paths that reminds one of the Sith planet of Korriban. For anybody who grew up with a SNES or a Genesis, this game will put you right back in your best friend’s basement, wired on candy and taking turns playing the same game on a crappy tube TV for hours on end. The landscapes are pretty but played out nostalgia triggers, and so is the soundtrack. The music goes from fun and energetic, rife with the promise of hope and adventure, to the intense and frenetic speediness reminiscent of Mega Man 2 boss fights.
You get one arrow as your weapon, and one hit can kill you.
On the note of boss fights, that’s literally all this game is. It’s as if the developers wanted to take the visual style of the Legend of Zelda, inject it with the self-flagellating difficulty of Dark Souls, and then distill this mix into the simple brew that is Shadow of the Collossus. All you will do in this game is meander through the world, opening doors and fighting bosses. But that’s ok, because each boss is different, and while challenging as hell, very beatable. Each boss has a simple and very obvious weakness, like a giant glowing eye, that is surrounded by various traps, arms, heat rays and the like, all trying to bash you into jelly.
This variety is all the more impressive when you realize, about halfway through the game, that you’re not getting any more weapons. No power ups, no ice arrows, no extra health. You get one arrow as your weapon, and one hit can kill you.
The arrow is the crux of every fight, but comes with a few caveats that evolve into much-needed skills required to defeat certain enemies. You charge up your shot, the arrow flies, and then you charge up again to pull it back to you a la Luke getting his light-saber to free himself from his ice prison on Hoth. Often times it is this force pull you will use to catch an enemy from behind or light your arrow on fire, when just shooting the boss in the face isn’t working. Also available to you in your no-so-vast repertoire of skills is the dash and dodge mechanic… which allows you to dash, and dodge. This comes in handy when attempting to avoid getting smashed by a tentacle or crushed by a giant Cyclops cube. When that does happen, that’s all she wrote. This is a one-hit, one-kill kind of game, and adds a nice intensity to each battle.
When you die, which happens a lot, you respawn at a checkpoint close to the boss and do it again. And again. And again.
There isn’t a whole lot of depth to Titan Souls, but if you’re in the mood for a game that doesn’t require a whole lot of commitment or countless hours of micromanaging and leveling, yet still requires quick-thinking and a mastery of what at first appear to be simple and limited skills with an added splash of 16-bit era style, this is the game for you.