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Titan Souls Review


Titan Souls Review

Souls without the soul.

Titan Souls for PlayStation 4

Challenge. It’s a simple word to most, but, when it comes to the world of gaming, it can be a rather daunting element to implement. With the rise of the Souls series, and Bloodborne, many fans of this interactive medium have been seeking out experiences that test them. Whether it’s testing their resolve, their reflexes, or their intelligence, gamers now long for something more from the games they purchase.  While indie games are not new to including challenges in their small refined experiences, not many have taken the approach of Dark SoulsTitan Souls hopes to change that by providing an engaging, and difficult, journey to those willing to accept the challenge. The question is: does it manage to capture the soul of the games that came before it?

titan souls

Titan Souls places players in the shoes of an unnamed protagonist equipped with nothing more than a bow, a single arrow, and a mission. Who is this person? Why are they here? That is for you to uncover. As you uncover these mysteries of both the protagonist, and the world the game takes place in, players will do battle with large, menacing Titans. Each with their own manner of fighting, and their own weak-point to be discovered.

Before getting into the gameplay, it must be stated that Titan Souls is a beautiful game. No, it’s not a AAA title with tons of CGI, nor does it have a laundry list of special effects that developers checked off. What it does have is a solid musical score, great art direction, and a surprising sense of ambiance. From the very moment you’re mysteriously dropped into this world, you feel the weight of solitude, and the evidence of things long since passed.

titan souls

Nature seems to be overtaking technology from days no longer remembered. All that guides you are paths that may still show beneath the ruin, and platforms that indicate how many Titans remain in the area, as well as serve as checkpoints for the player. The music sets the tone for each of the several areas present in Titan Souls world as you walk, alone, searching for your next target in order to absorb its soul. Walking is something you’ll find yourself doing quite a bit, so it’s nice that the world and music help to remove some of the monotony.

The same attention is given to players encounters with Titans. Titan Souls provides over 20 different behemoths for you, the player, to take down, and each fight takes place within its own special area, with its own effects that serve as a sort of puzzle for players to figure out. The folks over at Acid Nerve really nailed the environment down when it came to designing Titan Souls, unfortunately the environment isn’t the whole game. Gameplay and narrative are important when pursuing the goal of creating an engaging, and challenging video game.

titan souls

Titan Souls is a relatively simple game when it comes down to controls. Aside from your directional buttons, there are only two action buttons in the entirety of the game. You have your roll/run button, and your fire/retrieve button. The world of Titan Souls is surprisingly vast, so running is something you may want to do pretty often. During boss battles, rolling is the only real way to get out of danger (the large Titans are deceptively quick). But, it’s the attacking that is quite interesting here.

The protagonist has one arrow (yeah, only one) that can be drawn and fired at any time. Seems a bit unfair, no? The thing is, this arrow can be retrieved with what seems to be the players one and only special ability (if you don’t count the constant reviving mechanic). When an arrow is fired it can be called back in a straight path to wherever the player happens to be standing, allowing for some real strategy. Maybe a Titan has a weak-spot on it’s back, so fire an arrow at a wall, get the boss in front of you and summon the arrow right into place.

titan souls

Those types of strategies will actually come in handy more often than not. Each encounter is more than just a battle, it is a puzzle to be examined, and then solved in a way similar to the classic Shadow of the ColossusTitan Souls starts out simple enough, with the first couple of bosses making very clear what their weaknesses and patterns are. As you progress, so does the difficulty. The Titans move about more, or are more keen when it comes to hiding their weaknesses, leading to innumerable deaths. And this is where the issues start to show.

Like a certain other game with Souls in the title, Titan Souls lends itself to the notion that lessons can be learned in death. And, the more you die, the wiser you can (and should) become. As players slay more and more Titans, advancing through each area, deaths become more familiar. Speed, reflexes, problem solving, and ingenuity are all required, but knowing to what degree each one is needed for each specific battle can be a bit of a head scratcher. Yet there is a feeling of excitement and relief when you do finally figure it all out, only to have your view obscured and the protagonist sent back to the checkpoint.

titan souls

You see, Titan Souls has a fixed camera on the action at all times. You can only move it to scan an area in the distance, but it still maintains the same angle. This becomes a huge problem, especially during fights with the larger enemies. You will often find yourself unable to view the protagonist. Whether it’s because the huge cube you’re fighting decided to park right in front of your section of the screen, or one of the encounters effects blocks your sight for a second or two. This is very frustrating.

The frustration builds when an unseen ground effect takes hold (effects that are never explained by the game) and you have absolutely no idea why you are unable to move until you see the death screen. While this doesn’t happen during all encounters, it happens in more than enough to become a real issue that hammers on the frustration in a way that sort of cheapens the challenge.

titan souls

It becomes a bit worse when you realize this is pretty much all their is. The narrative is paltry at best, with little direction. Players are treated to a mural here, and a cryptic cutscene there, but nothing solid in the way of story telling. One thing that goes hand in hand with challenging games is a sort of calming balance that is carried by both narrative and world interaction outside of the difficult bits. Aside from walking in its beautiful world, Titan Souls offers none of that.

What you are instead left with is a series of encounters and little more. The Dark Souls series, and even the recently released Bloodborne, aren’t solid, critically acclaimed experiences because of their difficulty. It’s everything that surrounds that difficulty that makes those games special. Titan Souls strips most of that away in an effort to take one singular, refined approach, but comes up short.

Don’t get me wrong, Titan Souls isn’t a bad game, it’s just noticeably lacking. If players are just looking for tough, often short, battles that involve one hit kills, then this is the perfect game. But, if a fleshed out, well rounded experience is what’s desired, then Titan Souls will leave you wanting. They nailed the unique element of each encounter, but that attention to detail was lost on other important factors, besides those of an aesthetic nature.

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