What do you get when you take the charming 16-bit top down look of A Link to the Past and add in the core gameplay elements of Shadow of the Colossus? Titan Souls!
Titan Souls doesn’t have a narrative, nor does it tell you anything about its beautiful world, and it certainly doesn’t hold your hand and tell you where to go or what to do, but it never really bothered me too much. In a way, it felt refreshing, and reminded me of the games of yesteryear that I grew up with. With that said, the world does feel empty, like it’s missing something, especially with the gorgeous soundtrack that accompanies it. The game really put me in the mood for an adventure, only to find that there wasn’t much to explore. There are a few secrets here and there, but they don’t tend to be anything other then a linear path that guides you to the next destination. There are no enemies in the over world, nor are their any cities or NPC’s to talk to.
The main goal of Titan Souls is to eliminate the two dozen or so bosses that riddle the land. The boss fights consist of a David vs. the Goliath style fight, where you try and one-shot many of the giant Titans with the only weapon in your possession: a single arrow. While many Titans can be struck with a single blow, it is easier said than done. You can’t just run into a boss fight all willy-nilly as each titan has the ability to one-shot you as well, and they will, over and over again.
Every Titan has a weakness, and many times it is very apparent what that weakness is at the start of the battle, but the challenge is often figuring out when the right opportunity is to strike. If you miss your opponent, you can always retrieve your arrow by picking it back up, but one of the game’s biggest mechanics is being able to call your arrow back to you. When your arrow is not in your possession, you can hold down the attack button while standing in place, and your arrow will slowly gravitate back towards you. While this may leave you vulnerable, it also becomes a strategy for taking down several Titans, as many of them constantly hide their weak spot behind them, or even on their rump, forcing you to strike from behind.
The most memorable boss fights in the game, are the ones that involve solving a puzzle in order to take down your opponent. One of the first titans you will encounter is a giant brain that is completely frozen in a cube of ice (talk about a brain freeze). In order to defeat him, you have to lure the titan onto a pressure plate that activates a torch, and then shoot an arrow through the torch, striking the titan, which then melts the ice around him and exposes his weak spot. It’s the innovative boss battles like this that makes Titan Souls so addicting and keeps you coming back for more. Even when I found myself struggling to take down a particular titan, I came back to face him time and time again without getting angry, because the titan fights are so engaging, and successfully taking one down just feels so satisfying.
One endeavour that set me back was the different art styles of the titans. While most of them were pixilated and set in a 2D environment, there are a few titans that have a 3D art style that blends well with the game, but also hindered my experience. The 3D titans all have a depth/verticality to them that is hard to judge. For instance, there is a snake like titan who swims under water, and then pops up and dive bombs on you. When it pops out of the water, you are supposed to shoot the end of its tail, but I found the 3D art style of the titan made it too difficult to judge what depth his tail was at, causing me to mindlessly guess for about 45 minutes on my first play-through before eventually getting it right.
I completed the game in about 3 ½ hours on my first play-through if you include the secret boss and second ending, and cut that time down to 1 ½ hours on New Game Plus Mode. The game is short enough to beat in a single sitting, and even challenges you to beat it in less than 20 minutes, which will net you a trophy, but seems like a cruel joke. After completing the game, there isn’t really much to come back to except for a few new modes that don’t really change the game enough to warrant a 2nd play-through. I was also a little disappointed with new game plus, as it didn’t really change much, except for being able to now decode the bosses’ names in English, and having access to the finale Titan at the start of the game.
All in all, I really enjoyed Titan Souls, from its whimsical adventures music, to its amazing and engaging boss fights, but the game isn’t perfect. Being able to beat the game in single sitting, and not really having much to come back to really hurts Titan Soul’s replay value. I think it would be wise to wait, as this game feels ripe with the potential of possibly becoming a PS+ title.
+ Fun/engaging boss fights
+ Puzzle bosses
– Empty world
– Depth issues
– Not much to come back to
Titan Souls is a fun 3 hour experiance, but there is little to come back to after completion. I would personally wait till this game becomes a PS+ title
Jason Betthauser is the Senior Producer at The Game Bolt. He enjoys playing through classic games on cold, snowy, Minnesota days, especially if that game is Super Metroid. Follow him on Twitter.