E3 2014: Titan Souls Gives You One Shot to Survive
It's hot outside. The sun's oppressive stare gives me reason to shield my eyes as I step from beneath the small shadow of comfort provided by the canopy covering the entrance to the humid convention center. In the distance, bright glimmers of light shine like a beacon calling me to a place of respite from this damnable temperature. Following the shiny siren's song, I find myself in a new world, vastly different from the sweltering populous back inside at the expo. Here, the pressures of the biggest gathering of our tribe are seemingly non-existent. Here, there are creative minds smiling, laughing, having a good time. Here is where Devolver Digital has set up camp. And here is where I die a dozen times playing Titan Souls.
The laughter in the cozy camper isn't mocking. The developers are just having a good chuckle at my ability to come so close to eliminating the globulous heart bouncing around the room, only to fall prey to its amoebic grasp. "That time, I was just rope-a-doping it," I tell them. They nod in feigned agreement before bursting into laughter again as my next attempt again ends in a futile effort. It's easy to be fooled by Titan Souls' simple premise, and think you'll be able to just run in and take care of business with little effort. One hit kills are the name of the game on both sides of the equation. But just because a one of the titans only takes one well-aimed shot to fell doesn't make the task any easier. Especially when you're trapped in goop.
Titan Souls pits you as the lone hero with one single, solitary arrow against an onslaught of challenging and varied bosses. Each boss has a weak point, and it's up to you to exploit it. Some weak spots are fairly obvious to discern, but others take a bit of deduction. Also, since it only takes one shot to kill one of this big bads, sometimes that weak spot is hidden beneath armor, or in some cases, the inner core of a zygote going through severe cytokinesis. You have no such luck, but you do have the advantage of being able to call your arrow back to you from across an arena if you missed. You'll have to stand still while you do it, so it's a bit risky, but if you happen to strike the boss again while recalling your projectile, that counts as a hit, too. Just that tiny bit of strategy makes every stage a new experience. When it doesn't work to your advantage, you quickly find yourself trapped, panicked, and running for your life. But when it does work? Oh, the cheers are so worth it. At least you can look bad-ass for one brief, shinning moment.
I met my share of demises before finally overcoming the likes of a brain encased in ice or the aforementioned gelatinous heart. "Sometimes you eat the blob," I say, trying to calm my nerves and get the crowd back on my side. "And well, sometimes the blob, he eats you." It works, but only for a moment. Before too long, I'm back slinging arrows, whiffing on shots, and finding myself splattered on the sharp edge of a icy brain. The devs are back smiling and shaking their heads. There's a bit of pressure playing a game for the first time in front of developers. You want to prove you belong, and that you can handle yourself in the face of any challenge. More often than not, trying to hot dog it for the onlookers ended in my quick, guffaw-inducing death. But that's all part of the experience. The fine, young gentlemen at Acid Nerve have crafted a game that elicits a hearty laugh, and also happens to be a hell of a lot of fun to play.
Titan Souls will be available on the PC, Mac, Linux, PlayStation 4 and PS Vita in early 2015.