*Review based on the Playstation 4 version*
Titan Souls is a 2015 indie title that is sure to draw comparisons to The Legend of Zelda, Dark Souls, and Shadow of the Colossus. If fantasy games are what you’re looking to emulate, then Titan Souls has probably picked the best lot it could possibly draw inspiration from. But while the influences shine through in some memorable gameplay, there are a few drawbacks that prevent Titan Souls from living up to its lofty inspirations.
To describe the game most bluntly, Titan Souls uses a top-down perspective reminiscent of the 2D Zelda titles and mixes it with the difficulty of Dark Souls. Shadow of the Colossus, clearly its biggest inspiration, gives the game its setup of defeating one massive boss after another.
The hero of Titan Souls is a young warrior equipped with a bow and a single arrow. But his is a magic arrow that can be retrieved from a distance. His mission is to use that arrow to fell the nineteen Titans, who inhabit an ancient temple.
There’s a catch though. The hero is killed with a single hit, and both shooting and retrieving the arrow cause him to stand still, which makes him easy prey for the Titans. To the hero’s benefit, each Titan can also be defeated in a single hit, provided the hero can exploit its weak spot and act quickly.
The game does an amazing job at making every battle feel distinct from one another. With the Titans coming in a variety of different appearances and battle styles. There’s a gelatinous blob near the start of the game, and later you’ll be doing battle with a sea serpent, a giant treasure chest, an orb of molten rock, and a large night who feels ripped right out of Dark Souls.
The Titans display a great variety in character design, and each one brings something new to the gameplay. In this respect, Titan Souls’ imitation of Shadow of the Colossus is well executed. On the downside, the way in which it replicates Dark Souls may actually work against it.
Titan Souls can be a pretty difficult game. As stated, it’s one hit and you’re done. On one hand, this helps give the battles a strong sense of tension. But on the other hand, many of the Titans can be downright aggravating. Perhaps this wouldn’t be much of an issue if you could respawn right back at a Titan’s doorway, but unfortunately, the checkpoints are found in various areas in the game world. While it might not take particularly long to get from a checkpoint to a Titan, they are far enough away, and your character moves slowly enough, that walking back to a battle after every defeat becomes arduous and time consuming.
In the game’s first area, where the first four Titans are located closely from one another, it’s not so bad. But once the game world opens up and allows you to travel to different areas, it just becomes frustrating losing a seconds-long battle repeatedly, and having to slowly make your way back every time. What a difference it would make if you could just respawn at the boss doors. Some might call that cheap. But considering how the player will often die within seconds of stepping inside the boss room, I don’t think asking for more instantaneous rematches is asking for too much.
Aside from that, there’s just not a whole lot to the game. While Shadow of the Colossus had a few additional modes and an engaging story and world worth revisiting, there’s not really anything more to Titan Souls but the Titans themselves, unless you’re gunning for the game’s trophies or wish to play hard mode (but the game is already plenty hard enough).
Still, Titan Souls provides an interesting experience that, while certainly no match for the games that inspired it, provides a bit of originality to its foundations. The retro look is charming, and the soundtrack can often be beautiful. But the frustrations do ultimately take something away from what could have been a captivating gaming experience.