by Preston Dozsa
previewed on PC
Drawing inspiration from Shadow of the Colossus, Dark Souls and surprisingly enough Sword and Sworcery is Titan Souls by Acid Nerve. It is a 2D hack and slash, where you have one point of health and one arrow to take down colossal beings that can just as easily crush you without really trying. And while the pedigree of the games it draws that inspiration from is legendary - I count all three to be among the greatest games ever made - Titan Souls looks to make its own mark with well-designed action and an engaging concept to separate it from a spate of other indie titles.
You play as a lone warrior who wanders into a land so foreign and alien that it is impossible to place its age. Stone ruins jot the landscape while rivers run peacefully by with nary a fish or bird in sight. The ruins themselves are covered in strange writings that you cannot decipher - yet. The game does a wonderful job setting the tone in the opening moments, drawing on solitude as a theme by which to coordinate the aesthetic and music. But, like plenty of games, that solitude is quickly shattered once you step into the ruins themselves.
Titan Souls tasks you with taking down over twenty titans with nothing more than a single arrow in your possession. You can jog, roll, shoot and call back your arrow from a distance, and that is the only tools you will ever have in your disposal. Not that it will matter really, because you will almost certainly die. A lot.
Patience is key
The peacefulness from before is broken as soon as you elect to fight your first titan, as it seems to get angry at your mere presence in their sanctum, switching up the music to become more frenetic and action packed near instantaneously. The first titan I fought was a giant cube that moved across the ruin like a chessboard, staying within the grid that occupied the entire room. Every so often it would pause for a very small fraction of time in order to fire off a massive laser that takes up a quarter of the room from its one eye.
Of course when I first attempted the boss I was crushed to death very quickly. As I was on my second attempt. The third attempt the top half of my body was turned to ash from the laser and at that point I stopped counting. The next several minutes consisted of me entering the room, trying to get a clear shot with my bow, failing and dying repeatedly. I spawned just a short distance away from the boss room, so the trip did not take long in between attempts. But I was angry. I wanted this cube to die badly. And the trip did not quench my thirst for this cube’s blood.
And then, on the umpteenth attempt I managed to put an arrow right into its eye socket. Someone watching me play asked how I pulled it off, but I didn’t know either. Just like you, the bosses have one point of health each, so the first one to do damage is the first to walk away the victor. Patience is key in Titan Souls, because spamming your attack only wastes your time when you should be looking for the opening.
Out of the other three bosses I fought in the demo, the cube ended up being the least difficult of the crowd. A giant stone statue, a brain coated in ice and a giant blob that split up into multiple copies of itself on hit were the other titans available, and I’m happy to report that each of them required different mechanics and a different approach in order to properly take down. Yes the mechanics behind your character remain the same, but it’s a testament to how well designed the bosses are that they exhibit such variation in approaches that all you require are what you start with in the beginning.
That’s really one of the best things about Titan Souls: There is no progression system to level up your character. Either you defeat the boss you are currently stuck on, or you move on and try your luck with different prey. You don’t improve your character: you improve yourself, requiring only that you are able to learn from your mistakes and to be able to take different approaches to each of the bosses. Everyone who plays this game is on equal footing throughout the entire adventure.
Lots of fun
Reflecting back on the game, I can’t believe that I was able to defeat four titans with the limited time I spent playing it. And now I can’t wait to hop back into Titan Souls and see what else the developers have in store. Titan Souls is currently expected to release in the first quarter of this year, so keep tuned into Hooked Gamers for more information on a release date and for a full review.