Titan Souls Review (PlayStation 4)
I've died approximately 30 times trying to bring down Knight Elhanan. He's a skilled marksman, and even though I know exactly what I've got to do to put him down for good, I just can't seem to get my sh-- together. Then, one magical attempt later, a fluke shot I never intended to take with my own trusty bow finds its mark. Knight Elhanan is dead, and I've claimed his soul. There are a lot of moments in Acid Nerve's Titan Souls where you need more than a good plan; you also need a lot of luck. That's not to say a great plan won't get the job done, but there's a bit of good fortune involved in slaying titans as well.
The journey begins with very little explanation, and even less baggage. With nothing but a bow, one arrow and your wits, you're tasked with exploring the world of Titan Souls and taking down the enemies you encounter. Of course, the enemies you encounter just happen to be rather large and challenging creatures, each with a single defined weakness only your arrow can pierce. If it all sounds a bit like another game with a cult following that has you challenging massive creatures with little aid, you wouldn't be wrong. However, Titan Souls isn't a grand, sprawling epic. It's much more concise and focused in both exploration and combat, and to be honest, the barrier for entry is a lot lower, too, which is nice. By that I don't mean Titans Souls is easy to conquer, but it is easy to learn, grasp and jump into with little to no help.
There is a bit of exploration and light (very light; the lightest) puzzle-solving involved, but the great majority of Titan Souls is spent fighting the creatures that call this land home. The simple two-button control scheme might not seem like enough to take down fearsome creatures like the Yeti or the blobulous heart, but there are some strategies you can implement thanks to the way the bow and arrow work. You see, not only can you fire the arrow, but once it misses, and it will miss, you can summon it back to you. While summoning the arrow, it retains its attack powers, meaning you can purposefully miss to create a new opportunity to attack.
The only other tactic you have is a dodge roll. It's incredibly key, as you're somewhat invincible while rolling. You're timing will have to be on point, of course, but after the first few titan encounters, you should be rather adept at making 'em miss. Provided you've been able to learn the attack strategy of any given titan, that is. Learning how and when the enemy will try to take you down is a must, but equally important is learning how to expose the weak spot. Though early titans have fairly exposed points of attack, the farther you progress, the more complex the takedowns become. Every titan still only requires one hit to kill, but one might need you to make its armor disappear or find a way to hit a port hole no bigger than womp rat.
The variety helps keep Titan Souls fresh, even after you've died over a hundred times. No two bosses are alike, and each environment also presents some new aesthetics, too. Once you've managed to best all the titans the first time, you can unlock a New Game+ mode, which offers you a much more difficult challenge as titans will have new patterns, faster attacks, and even smaller windows of opportunity to strike.
Even in dying more than two hundred times myself, I never found myself bored or frustrated, save for the final encounter. The return to play is incredibly quick thanks to the checkpoint system, and the speed of the battles means you won't have ever spent too long trying to take a titan down only to fall late in the encounter. Death is quick and painless, and revenge can be served up almost immediately. Plus, there's no particular order you must follow, so if any titan is giving you trouble, you can try your hand somewhere else and come back later.
There's a nice amount of detail in Titan Souls' world, given the minimalist design approach. Both environments and titans are rendered nicely, and definitely have a visual personality. It's the score though that really gives Titan Souls its heart. Subtle and somber, but exciting when it needs to be, the soundtrack helps establish the tone of this mysterious world as you explore. Each aspect of the presentation works wonderfully in tandem to make the world of Titan Souls feel alive and real, and makes you want to keep exploring if only to hear and see more of it.
You're going to die a lot in Titan Souls, but that's part of the fun. Learning from you mistakes is all part of the game, and there are few feelings as satisfying as slaying a titan that had been giving you trouble for the last twenty minutes. Acid Nerve's done a nice job crafting a game that provides a challenge without being overly frustrating, and more importantly, that's easy and enjoyable to play. My time in Titan Souls may not have been lengthy, but I'll remember my greatest kills for a long time.
This review was completed using a purchased download of Titan Souls for PlayStation 4.