Review: Titan Souls

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Titan Souls features a solitary hero armed with a single arrow who explores a ruin to fight titans. Featuring very tight and unforgiving gameplay and melancholy exploration, the game immediately ties the player to its silent protagonist and commands interest. While most games today rely on numerical gamification to bolster weak gameplay (in the form of  stat upgrades), Titan Souls boldly builds its gameplay completely around the player’s ability and drive.

Art & Sound

Titan Souls mix of pixel art  looks gorgeous, and working with the well-composed soundtrack and ambient effects communicates the contemplative environment quite well. Certain bosses are rendered from low-poly 3D models, yet don’t look out of place in the flat pixel world.

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Gameplay

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The combat gameplay is running and dodging while shooting and recalling a single arrow; the player dies in one hit, but so do the bosses. This very simple premise leads to some excellent gameplay. The best bosses likewise evolve from the superposition of a few simple premises, such as spinning smashing cuttable arms + a chasing gas cloud + a rotating weak spot, or two hands that alternate between blocking and crushing at conflicting rhythms. This leads to a very rewarding intellectual gameplay.

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While some of the gameplay is excellent, a few bosses exhibit a sort of artificial difficulty from speed; in the case of the Yeti or Spike-Ball Idol Head, for instance, the concepts weren’t particularly difficult, but they moved very quickly as if to make up for the lack of conceptual challenge. These bosses weren’t as fun to fight as the slower bosses, leading more to frustration and relief than a feeling of real accomplishment. When combat isn’t fun and there is no numerical gamification, the only thing that keeps players going is a compulsive sense of addiction rather than enjoyment; this is not very healthy or very noble game design.

Story

In times when the gameplay slacked, the game could have relied on story to maintain the player’s interest. Though it was interesting to explore and find implicitly expositional images or locations, this was not tied to the run of the game’s plot. Perhaps the game would have maintained its momentum better if these mysterious and interesting moments were parsed out after boss fights.

Titan Souls crafts a very special experience for the player, and does so very courageously against trends in modern gaming; because of this, its receiving very mixed reviews. For any proponent of video-games-as-art, Titan Souls will not disappoint.

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