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Titan Souls, despite what you might think from the name, has little in common with Dark Souls besides the difficulty and focus on personal improvement.

It is at its core a game based on pure technical skill that pits you, with a single arrow, against much stronger bosses and lets you figure out through failure and repetition what the road the triumph is.

 

The graphics in Titan Souls are 16-bit in style but are rather visually stunning to look at. There are no massive set-pieces or complex environments, instead most of the graphics are done through the use of simple, but very detailed, shapes. It isn't a visual style you see much these days but it definitely works here. The large environments contrast well with your small protagonist further enforcing the idea that you're fighting enemies way out of your league.

The music does a great job as well, especially when it comes to setting the mood. When you're fighting the bosses it kicks in to a more upbeat tempo that gets you pumped for the fight ahead but when you're out in the world it slows down in to a melancholic tune that kept constantly reminding me of Shadow of the Colossus. Which isn't surprising given that you're a young protagonist out on a mysterious quest, exploring an unknown land and fighting bosses much larger than you. All of the elements are there.

Simple shapes used to great effect

That comparison however is mostly superficial since Titan Souls plays a lot differently than Shadow of the Colossus. Instead of climbing all over enemies you have your bow and a single enchanted arrow. Each boss has one weakness you need to figure out and hit at the appropriate time, a completely simple concept. The trick is that it takes you a little while to fire your arrow, especially long distance, and with bosses usually trying their very best to kill you its not easy to find time to shoot at them.

Shooting randomly and hoping for a lucky hit is penalized quite heavily because you need to either retrieve your arrow by picking it up, or you need to stand still for a second while you use your Jedi mind powers to get it back. It doesn't sound like heavy punishment until you remember that the bosses don't stand idle while you do this, they are still trying to actively smush you.

Outside of simply shooting you have one more ability on your disposal, a short ranged roll that will be your main means of escaping death when the giant you poked in the eye starts stomping around. And that is your whole skillset, you can move, you can shoot and you can dodge. It looks very primitive at first glance but the encounters in Titan Souls are so well designed that you can find a ton of ways to improve even with this limited of a move set.

While the game starts out simple enough by just challenging your ability to shoot and dodge, soon enough you're going to be required to pull off some tricky shots while having enough presence of mind in the middle of a battle to get the boss in to the perfect position so you can land the killing blow. This is one of the more unique aspects of Titan Souls. Bosses can kill you in one shot but on the other hand it only takes you one good hit in their weak spot to bring them down, fair is fair I suppose.

You will end up hating this Yeti, trust me

The fact that bosses die in one hit does mean that pretty much all of them are as tough as nails and will require multiple attempts before you even begin to grasp the strategy behind them, especially for the later bosses which require some out of the box thinking. For example there is a boss half way through the game which is almost impossible to hit normally but if you intentionally miss and then retract your arrow through him you can end the fight within 5 seconds. This might sound like cheating to you but the entire game is built around the idea of figuring out the bosses weakness and exploiting it.

Luckily the frustration of death is averted by some wisely placed checkpoints which will have you fighting the boss within 10 seconds of your death. It might seem better to simply have you start on the boss itself but the short trip is great way for you to cool off and reconsider your strategy before jumping in to the fray again.

As far as the world is concerned it serves more as a giant mission hub rather than an environment you can explore which is real shame. The place is huge, not to mention really pretty to look at, and there are tons of little alcoves that look like they should hold secrets yet the only thing you will find is disappointment. If there ever comes a sequel a more content rich overworld would be more than welcome. I have similar complaints about the story. Its told in cryptic clues and little bits of background information but there isn't much lore for you to sink your teeth in. Titan Souls isn't the type of game that even needs a story but they went out of their way to include one so its kind of annoying that there isn't more to it.

This is how you'll get most of your lore

Titan Souls doesn't take long to beat, I believe it took me 4 hours or so in total and there is even an achievement to do it in 20 minutes. But ending the game doesn't mean you have to be finished with it as you will unlock a New Game + mode with harder and faster bosses as well as various challenges such as "no dodge roll" or Ironman (permadeath). Its a nice way to extend the game's lifespan by a few hours but even with all of that considered I still wish it was a little bit longer but I can't really complain given that you can get it dirt cheap these days.

Verdict

Besides the overworld map being somewhat bland I don't have many complaints with Titan Souls. It is a very compact experience that was made to be as challenging as possible without ever crossing in to unfair territory.

Through the combination of great visuals, music and some terrific encounter design you will spend most of the game in a trance, constantly trying to improve and perfect your strategy in order to bring down whatever boss dares stand in you way.

It might not have a ton of content but what you do get is extremely well done and for the price you can get it at these days I'd say its more than worth it. 

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