For many, indie games are a way to branch out and experiment with games that would never see the light of day as triple A releases. Papers Please, Minecraft, Besieged, they’re all wonderful games that branched out to do something different. Titan Souls takes a different approach and tries to condense some of the most critically acclaimed high-budget games into something simpler. For the most part, it works.
Taking obvious inspiration for Shadow of the Colossus and Dark Souls, Titan Souls is a top-down 2d action adventure where your protagonist has a bow and a single ammo. The only special move he has is a combat roll and there’s no progression throughout the whole game. A single hit will kill him, but the twist is that the giant bosses you fight against can only take a single hit too. This leads to repeated deaths and runs back to the boss, all a learning experience building up to the moment where your arrow finally strikes the target and you can move on to the next.
The game world is partly non-linear as there is a small overworld of sorts and then in each area you can choose which order you fight most of the bosses. There are no other enemies, no shops, no points, no timed leaderboards. It’s an incredibly simple game told primarily through some beautiful pixel art and music.
Unfortunately, while this simplicity seems impressive at first, it can quickly give rise to boredom and even frustration. Usually you’ll work out how to kill a boss within one or two deaths, but then actually getting the kill is much more difficult. The aiming is imprecise (even with a controller) and often a single miss can mean death and a run from the last shrine. Many of the bosses move quickly and have very small windows of opportunity to strike so it ends up feeling like there’s a little too much luck involves and not enough working things out.
That being said, even that puzzle nature is a detriment to the game. With a sombre tone, Titan Souls clearly seeks to mimic the melancholy air of victory created when a Colossus dies in Shadow of the Colossus, but these bosses lack all of that personality and noble grace. Instead they are simple little puzzles, many of them appearing more as machine than creatures that are alive. It doesn’t help that the first few are particularly gimmicky and you quickly start wanting to cut through them as quickly as possible to see the next puzzle, without ever really feeling anything for their deaths.
Titan Souls is definitely an interesting game. It’s very polished and the gameplay is somewhat refreshing and unique. Unfortunately it just isn’t as powerful or as interesting as it thinks it is and the simple mechanics struggle to hold your interest for the time it takes to complete the game. Hopefully in the future we’ll see a Titan Souls 2 that adds more precise controls and perhaps even co-op, as we think the puzzle nature of the game is really the strongest aspect.