Have you ever wanted an action adventure game that cuts out all of the modern trimmings and filler, boiling it down to just boss fights? If so, Titan Souls just might be the game you’re looking for. Acid Nerve’s top down pixel art title on PC and PlayStation is a game that offers up a tightly focused experience. That focus is to kill the many of bosses of the game, using your one and only trusty arrow.
There are no minions to cut down, no levels to grind. Titan Souls is all boss battles and nothing but. Every encounter you will find in the game is a kill or be killed fight with a new big bad, where you will normally win if you can hit them in their weak spot just one time. Get hit yourself, and you’ll die. Titan Souls is a very simple game, really. Meet the boss, find his weakness (usually glowing pink), then find a way to hit it. Hitting it involves using your aforementioned arrow and sounds a lot easier than it is. This arrow can be shot at varying strengths depending on how long you hold down the corresponding button. After you shoot it though, you’ll be vulnerable while recollecting it by either running over it or by summoning it back to you. And that’s the basic gameplay of Titan Souls. You’re looking for openings and dodging enemy attacks, while you manage shooting and recollecting your arrow in the process.
While it seems simple on the surface, the bosses in Titan Souls are no pushovers. Each have elaborate attacks and patterns that must be learned. That learning is done by dying, and that’s a big part of this game. Staying alive long enough to catch a glimpse of that glowing spot where you’ll need to place an arrow, and then putting yourself in position to do just that is the basic roadmap to beating every boss. Titan Souls has many of these fights, and there’s a lot of variation between the different enemies. This variation comes in the form of different and creative attacks and movement patterns which usually keep you on the move, using your roll and run mechanics.
There’s a lot of trial and error in Titan Souls. Boss fights can last just seconds until you get a feel for how to avoid these new attack patterns. Because of that, there’s a lot of downtime in the game. While checkpoints aren’t awfully far from the bosses themselves in many cases, this respawning process can get a little repetitive, especially if you get caught up on a single boss and need to repeat the trip back to them over and over again. The repetitiveness of this process gives you just enough time to question whether its worth another trip back or not. Many games will put you right back into the fight right away, but Titan Souls doesn’t do this and it may be to its detriment. This downtime does allow you to take in the world that’s been created here, both a pleasure to look at and listen to, Titan Souls urges you to explore other areas. What you’ll find is more bosses though.
Stubbornness aside, the good news is that you don’t have to keep fighting the same boss over and over. The open world structure of the game allows you to tackle any boss you want, at any time. Titan Souls is broken up into numerous areas which house new checkpoints and elemental themes. The bad news is, you’ll be fighting something just as hard if you choose to go a different path. There’s no busy work to keep you occupied in Titan Souls, it’s stressful battle after stressful battle. Some may be easier than others depending on the player, and luck does feel like it plays a role in the game. Small windows of opportunity feel like million to one shots, and when they hit, it always feels satisfying. More often than not though, they don’t, and that’s where things can feel tedious. Waiting around for the opportunity to get lucky, Titan Souls feels like it doesn’t always give you a fair shake.
That’s on the first playthrough even. Unlockable difficulties can make things even harder if that’s your thing. Taking the roll dodge mechanic out of the game and making bosses more difficult is your reward for persevering a first time. If you really want a challenge, there’s a permadeath mode that will have you starting over completely after each death. For those that aren’t into speedruns or increased difficulty levels, a second playthrough of the game may not be warranted.
Titan Souls strips out all of the bloat of contemporary action games, and boils things down to what should be the best bits. Though it might be a little too condensed for its own good. There’s very little sense of satisfaction and reward for completing what can be tedious trial and error boss encounters. You never quite feel like you are building towards anything meaningful in either story or character progression.