Funk of Titans is a game that disappoints at nearly every turn. Coming from a small, indie developer, the game could have had some new and interesting ideas presented. Pre-release media seems to suggest that this is the case, with what looks like a wild and wacky romp through an interesting world of music. Unfortunately those hopes are quickly dashed as the realization dawns on the player that Funk of Titans is simply a bad game that offers little for players to truly enjoy.
Funk of Titans has some sort of story hidden beneath the randomness on display. You play as Perseus, “the son of Zeus and protector of the legendary holy music: the Funk.” For some reason Perseus goes on an adventure to defeat the “Titans of Music”, Pop, Rap, and Rock. You will make your way through 40 individual levels spread across the three worlds in order to take on the Titans and…make Funk the only music in the land? Your purpose is never really that clear.
Looking at screenshots and videos of the game might lead one to believe that they are going to play a traditional 2D platformer. Unfortunately, that would be wrong. Instead Funk of Titans takes control away from the player by playing as a sort of auto runner, where Perseus’ movement and direction are totally controlled by the game. You simply jump and attack, nothing else. As you traverse the 40 levels contained in the game all you have to do is avoid obstacles and kill enemies.
There is a definite theme with Funk of the Titans’ many flaws, where things that should change in some way simply don’t
Enemies come in three varieties, the ones you jump on, the ones you hit, and the ones you can kill with either. The design never changes, despite the world around these characters shifting dramatically from one area to the next. The levels do grow in complexity, but never to a point where players would actually need to strain their reflexes or mental faculties. Later levels simply throw in a few more obstacles and enemies along with the rare new element and call it a day. One truly frustrating design decision was the spacing of enemies and obstacles. Perseus can sustain two hits before dying, forcing a restart. However, hazards are very often spaced exactly so that you will bounce from one to the other, negating the health mechanic featured in the game. If you die, no matter how far along in the level you are, you get to start all over again. Thankfully the levels are brief, usually taking around a minute or two, but if you keep dying around the same point due to design issues then it can quickly lead to anger.
There is a definite theme with Funk of the Titans’ many flaws, where things that should change in some way simply don’t. For example, the second world is entirely covered in ice. This is a common trope for platforming games, but the difference is that most will have this alter the gameplay in some fashion. Characters should slide more when running and jumping on ice, but in Funk of Titans, Perseus is able to move about just as easily on sand, ice, or concrete. Unlockables follow a similar trend, with players being able to gain new weapons and armor by gathering “vinyls” and completing optional objectives like “jump 20 times in one level.” However, aside from the aesthetics of these items there is practically nothing driving players to get or use them.
My first major upgrade in Funk of Titan was to switch from the default sword over to a boombox. The game is musically themed, so I figured this would be an interesting new mechanic, altering the way my attacks landed on enemies. I was quickly disappointed to see that not only did the boombox play exactly the same, offering the exact same range and animation, it even featured the same sound effect as the sword. Other weapons offer similarly useless “upgrades”, except for the few that are used to open optional sections of the map. This would be worth worrying about if the extras found inside were actually interesting, but yet again Funk of Titans disappoints.
This unfortunately familiar feeling extends into the boss battles
The only real extra piece of gameplay offered besides “get to the end of the level” is the Pegasus collectible. Getting this item, which is usually hidden off the main path, will allow the player to play the Pegasus mini-game after completing the level. Once more this only leads to sorrow as the Pegasus mini-game is a straight copy of the classic Helicopter flash game. Whether you get the Pegasus on the first level or the 40th, you’ll just get a chance to grab more useless collectibles in a rip-off of a game you’ve probably played hundreds of times before.
This unfortunately familiar feeling extends into the boss battles, which offer the final different gameplay element for Funk of Titans. Six battles are available, two per world, but really they’re just the same battle over and over with the difficulty turned up ever so slightly each time. The battles are the worst sort of quick-time event (QTE), where all you have to do is follow along with the buttons displayed on screen. There is no variety or intrigue to justify using this tired gameplay mechanic, it is simply a cheap way to differentiate the boss battles from the normal levels. Again, due to the game’s musical slant, I hoped the button presses might be timed to a beat of some sort. Instead they are just presented on screen before fading away, allowing you to hit the button within a large window that negates any pattern or rhythm that might have manifested.
If this all sounds like a cheap mobile type gamethen that’s because that is exactly what it feel like to play Funk of Titans. Everything about the game feels like it was tailor-made for the mobile platform, from the simplistic gameplay, to the two button control scheme, even to the visuals and sound. The art style is essentially the game’s only saving grace, offering up an interesting take on a universe that we’ve all seen before. However, the quality of the visuals is on-par with mobile games from a few years ago. This can be said of the audio as well, which features extremely repetitive sound effects and music that never really stands out as anything but background noise.
All of this could have easily been salvaged with the interesting concept underpinning the entire experience of Funk of Titans. Nothing is ever truly leveraged to great effect though, with the game going for cheap shots and easy jokes. Outside of this are the strange additions that make absolutely no sense, even within the strange world being presented. One boss featured a woman with machine gun breasts and a giant snake wrapped around her torso who challenged Perseus to a dance competition; no explanation was given and the game just moved on as if nothing had really happened. This odd world could easily be made enjoyable if it ever tried to make even the smallest bit of sense or make itself memorable in some way. Instead the developer just threw everything they had at the screen and hoped that players would find some kind of enjoyment out of the randomness.
Funk of Titans acts and feels like a cheap mobile game that was ported over to Xbox One. Coming from the ID@Xbox program allows the game certain lowered expectations, since we should just be happy the developers were allowed the chance to publish their game at all. However, this game does nothing of merit to justify gamers’ attention or interest. If you were at all wondering if you might enjoy Funk of Titans, just load up the first level and play through it to the end. If that was fun enough that you’d be interested in playing through it another 40 times then this is the game for you. All others should avoid it completely.
Funk of Titans
- Available On: Xbox One
- Published By: A Clash of Monsters
- Developed By: A Crowd of Monsters
- Genre: Platformer
- US Release Date: January 9th, 2015
- Reviewed On: Xbox One
- Quote: "Funk of Titans isn't funky, fresh, or even fun. Unless players really want a short, mobile game like experience then they should avoid this game completely."