Although this game perhaps needs no introduction, I’ll start by saying Titan Souls is one of the recent indie-developed games that are part of a larger wave of software focusing squarely on gameplay. That’s not to say it doesn’t look and sound great, but surely in a world where multiple hundreds of millions of dollars are being spent on big budget games we are looking for pure gameplay design to merit purchases from smaller studios or even teams of three such as the case with Titan Souls.
Acid Nerve is the development studio behind this game and originally created it at a Game Jam when it was discovered that the potential for a full release was prime. At that point Acid Nerve decided to push it into a more complete release and eventually landed a publishing deal with Devolver Digital who helped bring it across to the PlayStation 4, Steam (for Windows PC and Mac OS X), and PS Vita as well as provided a great marketing campaign reaching many gamers worldwide.
So on our doorstep arrives the PS4 version of the game. After booting up and defeating the initial bosses I realized that the game later lets you attack in the order you choose. This requires a bit of exploring around while you’re going to want to stick around mostly one area at a time, there are multiple bosses clustered together in each. As you may already know, Titan Souls is a game focused around taking out pixel art bosses one at a time. While they can easily overpower the playable character with their uniquely crafted abilities, gamers are faced with striking back using only equipped with 1 bow and 1 arrow (plus the ability to roll for dodging attacks).
The mechanics and design of each stage have been tweaked so that it’s barely possible to complete them. Often times the title becomes a mind game between facing your fears or figuring out that repeating the same attempts over and over again simply won’t work. Environmental attacks assault the player, enemies are able to establish 1 hit 1 kill through a number of ways as the beautiful pixel art is fascinating and the onslaught of danger is bewildering.
Trial and error play a large factor in how players will likely defeat this game. Sometimes you get lucky and the logic meets your mind quickly, you might even kill a few bosses on the very first try. However, the bulk of hours in this game will be spent trying to figure out the one weak point of the enemy and when there’s actually a chance during the half-scripted, half-AI mayhem that’s going on in the scene to actually make a decent attempt at puncturing that weak point.
I wouldn’t want to tell you everything about the enemies you’ll face in Titan Souls, since all of them are bosses and it would spoil the fun of discovering them for yourselves. But I will speak about some to give a general idea. To name a few of the bosses you’ll find, the plant pictured above has deadly vines that smack up and down in the air while circling around the level, causing players to constantly be on the go. Deadly gas is also released in addition to other dangers offered. There is a blob of fire that resembles the sun, a treasure chest that spits out coins and jumps down on top of you, a Yeti who does a very rapid spin attack into the wall causing you to be crushed and/or for ice crystals to fall from the ceiling and pierce you, a Titan Hunter who is something like a Knight and in fact has his own arrows plus impenetrable armor, and much much more.
Upon defeating all of the Titans and collecting all of their Souls the game will unlock an Iron Mode difficulty. Believe it or not, yes, the game can become harder. There is also some extra lore added to the game in the form of decoding the cryptic messages that appear to be in another language and are displayed now and again during the game – mainly when a new boss is discovered. The obsessively compulsive will relish in replaying Titan Souls over and over again trying to get as many kills as they can with as few deaths as possible. There’s no limit to how many times you can try and die, but the game does keep track.
Critically speaking Titan Souls doesn’t attempt to add anything to its simplistic approach. This can be a strength for many who are tired of being bombarded with chore lists in games, tutorials for things that should have just been apparent / intuitive, and poorly designed / tacked on features that add little of value and instead become time wasters. That being said, the game is not very long at all. The skilled and relentless players out there will have this title wrapped up quicker than the average player. This point is counter-balanced by the fact that it’s offered at a fair cost. I personally feel that the experience matches the asking price, as long as players are educating themselves as to what the game offers beforehand. It would have been nice if there was more meat sticking to the bones of this game, but then again that could have ruined it and defeated the purpose. There’s always room for subtle, delicate enhancements if a sequel is ever to be made though.
If you’re buying for the Windows PC or Mac OS X then a controller would probably be a good idea, as the game does not appear to lend itself to the restrictive nature of movement controlled by a keyboard. On the PlayStation 4 this title feels right at home, and for the PS Vita it’s obviously well suited due to the fact that quick sessions can be picked up and played leaving that itch for achievement while allowing your mind to fester with ideas on how the boss currently giving you trouble will potentially be dealt with. Some of the Trophies for this game are really interesting and not just the simple “kill all the bosses and you’re done kid” type of thing. These will surely present additional gameplay opportunities for those who aren’t sick of the title once they’ve completed both the base game and Iron Mode and it shows Acid Nerve might have more in mind for future games than just the purely stripped down approach.
Overall, Titan Souls is an excellent game. It sets out with a vision and a purpose, to give gameplay that is fun, frustrating, rewarding, and an atmospheric world full of wonderfully crafted unique enemies. The foes players face in Titan Souls truly do feel powerful. Less is more, in the regard that a great amount of impact has been accomplished with carefully placed design choices, an engaging soundtrack programmed to be ambient in all the right ways, and a devilishly polished pixel art offering. I’m a fan of this game. What we need to remember in this industry is that players need an experience that makes them feel alive, feel part of something virtual, and enjoy the fun of conquering challenges. Development Studio Acid Nerve seems to understand this and get it right, and I look forward to seeing what they develop in the future. Respect goes out once again to the publisher Devolver Digital for their excellent taste in recognizing another instant classic for their growing portfolio of independent games and for making it possible for this game to have reached so many platforms so quickly.
Developer: Acid Nerve
Publisher: Devolver Digital
Available On: PS4 | Vita | Windows PC | Mac OS X
Played On: Sony PlayStation 4
Review Copy Info: A digital copy of this game was provided to RealGamerNewz by the publisher for the purpose of this Review.
Editor’s Note: RealGamerNewZ has moved web servers, some older posts can no longer be commented on and have been preserved without their images. Thank you for your understanding in this matter. This article was written by Jon Ireson on 20150418 and was last modified on 20150418 .