Titan Souls is an indie developer’s attempt at executing on the formula of the highly acclaimed title Shadow of the Colossus, and I think it succeeds reasonably well. It’s a game about running from boss to boss in a serene, 16-bit environment, with no enemies in-between. Accompanied by a tranquil soundtrack, you will explore a large landscape in search of your next target. You’ll spend a decent amount of time striding along ruins and flora to the next fight, and that’s not just because the bosses are spread out, but also because of the fact that when you die – and you’ll die a lot – you aren’t usually placed directly outside of the encounter. For me, it wasn’t as bad of a thing as it might sound. The checkpoints were normally close enough to the boss rooms that I didn’t find myself getting too annoyed at it. At the very least, it helped me feel more accustomed and connected to the world while also giving me a bit of time to rethink my strategies. While there are also no items or things to collect, I still found it a nice place to be in.
One man, one arrow, one life. That’s the philosophy followed throughout the run of 19 bosses in Titan Souls. You die in one hit, but that also goes for a majority of the bosses. (The first boss in particular takes 5 strikes, making it the worst one in the game in my opinion) That’s definitely one of the strengths, because the fights aren’t necessarily about a test of endurance. Well, they don’t have to be at least, that is, if you know what you’re doing. I almost never knew what I was doing jumping into a boss though, and that’s where I hit my lows as far as enjoyment is concerned. The game felt like a roller coaster… When I got to the point where I learned how to avoid a boss’s attack patterns well enough to hang with it for a bit, my enjoyment would go up to healthy levels. When I started forming a real strategy on how to overcome a challenge, I got very into it. As soon as I executed my plan successfully, my excitement and confidence would peak, and I’d be on a high all the way until I got to the next boss where I would proceed to get slaughtered right off the bat, often multiple times in quick succession, and whatever ego I had built up to that point would have been beaten to a pulp. That wouldn’t be so bad, but that’s when the perpetual trek from checkpoint to boss room can sometimes get a bit bothersome.
The game tosses you out in a location that allows for a largely open ended progression where you can tackle the bosses in almost any order you choose. I didn’t find any those fights to be inordinately harder than others. There is also no character skill progression, so there are no balance issues to be had in regards to that. It’s just you and your one arrow. Yes, only one. If you shoot and miss, you have to retrieve it by either going over to it, or holding a button to magically drag it back to you. While doing so, you’ll be stationary and vulnerable.
Most of the bosses are quick and brutal with their attacks. It’s a real adrenaline rush trying to hang toe to toe with them. They were difficult to beat the first time around, but once you really figure out the trick, it’s relatively easy to execute on it again, which makes the game good for speedruns. The fights are fair as well. There are very specific instances that I felt like some of my deaths were cheap, like when I walked into a disembodied stone fist that was sat on the ground, completely void of any movement, or when I got hit a few times by something off screen. For the vast majority of the run, I felt like I was at the fault of my deaths. As long as I put in effort to learn from my mistakes and adjust, I wouldn’t feel stuck at a wall and would keep improving until I eventually succeeded. Admittedly though, at points I wished there was some kind of aiming reticle. I would rather my execution be focused more on just my evading and positioning rather than struggling with actually hitting the target i’m aiming for. I could see people liking the lack of a reticle, but I don’t feel like it complimented the fights in any meaningful way. With that said, even that was a problem that rarely came to the forefront of my mind, but still thought it was something worth mentioning. It wasn’t much of an issue overall.
Titan Souls has some small yet noticeable bumps in it’s design – not to mention the game’s arbitrary lack of a true pause function – but is still an experience that I very much enjoyed. It was worth the $7.50 that I payed for it. I ended up completing the game with 257 deaths. You can encounter the final boss without having to fight every other, so I got to the credits sequence with 15 defeated. You have to beat all of them to unlock the “true” final boss which is a much more grand, 3 part battle that makes for a very satisfying wrap up to the package.
Extra Notes –
I played Titan Souls on the Playstation Vita.
There are extra difficulty modes. Those include hardcore mode, one life mode, and no running or rolling mode.
Loading times normally fall somewhere around 6-10 seconds on Vita. They’re a lot quicker on other platforms.