Come for the bosses, stay for the view.

It’s impossible not to make the association between Titan Souls and another similarly titled franchise. When one thinks of the Souls series, the first thing that comes to mind is the dark atmosphere and the punishing difficulties. These feelings are what what Acid Nerve, the developers behind Titan Souls, probably wanted to elicit when they titled their game in a similar vein.  But after spending some time with their game I find that not only is the name misleading, but also does a disservice to the beautiful experience that Titan Souls delivers.

There are two forces at play within Titan Souls that deliver two completely different experiences throughout the game. First and foremost is of course the boss fights, but another aspect rarely showcased is the exploration.

All the focus on difficult boss fights and one hit deaths tends overshadow the beautiful simplicity present in the games’ levels. This isn’t just a boss rush game where players run from one room to another killing enemies. There’s a gorgeous  map to explore, with secret rooms and puzzles and a serene landscape that juxtaposes with the frantic chaos of boss battles.

297130_2015-04-14_00020

After breaking free of the initially confined temple that houses the intro bosses, players will set foot in a vast land scape that will see them traveling to boiling volcanoes, frozen peaks, and overgrown temples. The music helps create a calm atmosphere that lets players become engrossed in the exploration aspect of the game. Immediately it brought back similar feelings to when I played Shadow of the Colossus, feelings of loneliness but subtle calm. The map also showcases how nonlinear the game really is. Speaking with other players I found myself at completely different locations, battling entirely different bosses than what they had come across.

This aspect of the game is probably one of the more beautiful pieces that I wish hadn’t been over looked in favor of marketing the boss battles. A lot of love went into the design of this overworld, and it definitely stands out as one of the more memorable experiences.

297130_2015-04-14_00022

Bosses are creative and diverse

The other experience we get is of course the boss battles. The game follows a simple mantra of one hit, one kill. Both the bosses as well as yourself can succumb easily to just one hit. But while your character is made from squishy human flesh, the bosses you encounter will often be giant monolithic beasts made of fire, stone, and ice, so the “one hit” aspect might be a little misleading. Yes bosses can be taken down in one hit, but that’s assuming you actually find the right spot.

This is one of the things that sets Titan Souls apart from a game like Dark Souls.297130_2015-04-14_00016 Some people will have you think that this game is about those last 10 seconds in a boss fight, those 10 seconds where you’re reduced to almost no health and frantically exchange dodges and attacks in the hope of striking the boss down. But this is only a fraction of the experience you get with fights in Titan Soul. Each time you walk into a boss chamber you’re greeted with unique creatures, and a sense of admiration comes over you as you look upon their design. One room will have an underwater eel that electrifies the area around it, another will house a brain encased in ice, further down you’ll find a living ember that spews explosive rocks. Thos297130_2015-04-14_00027e moments of admiration are tempered by the “oh shit” realization as they let loose their first attacks. From there it becomes a moment of exploration, trying to figure out the boss patterns and searching for that one moment of vulnerability to counter attack. Your weapon plays a vital role as well, having only one arrow. But the arrow can be recalled to you, which can also lead to some interesting moments with strategy.  It’s entirely possible to shoot your arrow to awaken the boss and just let it rest out on the floor, only to recall it back to your character when the boss lines up the perfect shot. It’s a special treat to see a boss taken down from behind by an arrow they never saw coming.

297130_2015-04-14_00018

This will probably get worse before it gets any better

That is not to say the boss fights are not without their flaws. While finding a weak spot is a major aspect to some of the boss fights, other bosses just show their weakness in the shape of a giant glowing dot. Those moments made me feel almost cheated, having had to previously face a seemingly impervious ball of fire that ate my arrow, I was now greeted by a statue that advertised its weak point like a baboon in heat. Being denied that small moment of discovery suddenly made the fight feel a little more tedious. From there the fight just became a game of hit the target rather than a the previously organic feeling of discovery and survival. In other instances even the most carefully laid out plans fell mercy to just bad timing and dumb luck.

One boss had their weak point visible from the moment the first started, but random movements and environmental hazards made the fight feel as if it dragged on more that it should have. The penalty of death is also a bit of a contentious issue. The only punishment players get when they die a small walk back to the boss room from whatever their last check point activated. It’s a weird feature because sometimes that small annoyance can grow exponentially when facing a particularly challenging boss. I found myself longing for the instant restart featured in games like Hotline Miami rather than having to deal with the 5 second walk back. It’s an albeit brief moment that breaks immersion, but it sometimes feels like a useless distraction that pulls my attention away from the boss fights.

On a more personal not, my curiosity sometimes got the best of me. While the checkpoints are normally located close enough boss rooms to make the trip back a minor inconvenience at best, it is possible to miss them sometimes in the heat of discover. Once or twice I overlooked a check point in favor of walking into a room to see what else I could find. Acid Nerve was kind enough to not punish players for exploration, making it so boss fights don’t start immediately upon entering their rooms. The game gives players the courtesy of letting you choose when you want to start the fight by simply activating a trigger mechanism. Unfortunately sometimes when you’re given a bright red button that you really shouldn’t push the only thing you can do is push it. Lesson learned.

Small grievances aside, Titan Souls is an extremely fun game. The chaos of boss fights and the calm exploration of the world coalesce into a great experience. Players go from life threatening puzzles to subtle moments of reprieve seamlessly before doing it all over again.

 

Titan Souls Review
The Good
  • Creative Bosses
  • Great Level Design
  • Fun Exploration
The Bad
  • Penalty for death seems abitrary
  • Some boss battles can come down to dumb luck
8Overall Score
Reader Rating: (0 Votes)
0.0

About The Author

Enrique C
Editor-in-Chief

There's no problem that can't be fixed with fire. Doesn't matter what game. If that doesn't work, use more.