Friday 9 December 2016

Titan Souls review: One-hit wonder

Published 23/04/2015 | 11:58

Titan Souls: nothing but bosses
Titan Souls: nothing but bosses

THE power of one drives everything about Titan Souls, a lo-fi indie game born out of a code jam in late 2013.

Titan Souls (PS4/PS Vita/PC); rating: 7/10; age: 12+

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Blatantly inspired by Fumito Uedo’s 2006 classic Shadow of the Colossus, it appropriates wholesale the premise of a game built around a series of boss fights.

But, in fairness to the developers, the twist is devilishly clever. You’re a one-hit wonder – you’ve got only one reusable arrow for your bow and, worse still, a single hit will kill you. The bosses themselves will go down in one shot too, though sometimes you have to whittle away a protective shield first.

Naturally, this one hit, one kill rule creates excruciating tension when you know you can die at any second as you strive for that one perfect shot.

Titan Souls: dodge and roll are vital skills
Titan Souls: dodge and roll are vital skills

Around this plot device, the devs have carefully constructed layers of gameplay and dressed it in sparse 16-bit visuals accompanied by a mournful soundtrack. However, it can’t match the sheer melancholic beauty of SotC nor is there any great sense of evolution or progression.

You wander a barren landscape seeking out the lairs of the 19 bosses, which can be tackled in pretty much any order. Choose your boss and the first task is to wake it from its slumber, whereupon you will almost certainly die as it leaps angrily awake.

Next, you’ll need to identify its weak spot and look for an opening to unleash your arrow while fleeing around the area avoiding its attacks. Like Tom Cruise in Edge of Tomorrow, it’s a case of Live. Die. Learn. Repeat. Titan Souls, like its Dark Souls namesake, is bloody hard.

Death is frequent and often unavoidable, at least until you learn the monster’s patterns and then, with pinpoint accuracy and not a little luck, you eventually unleash the arrow the right way at just the right time – boom, the screen drains of colour and the boss falls.

Titan Souls: take down a Yeti
Titan Souls: take down a Yeti

Early bosses may take you only three or four attempts, but later ones leave the taste of death in your mouth 30 or 40 times if your reflexes aren’t supernaturally sharp. Prepare to swear a lot.

Your appetite for such repetition is a measure of how much you’ll enjoy Titan Souls. Colossus was frustrating at times, yes, but it never imposed such stringent rules or merciless enemies. Still, that never harmed Dark Souls, so what do I know?

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