Titan Souls is a 2D action game from Acid Nerve. When the game first released, I ignored it as the title sounded like a knockoff of other popular franchises of the time. However, seeing some footage of the game piqued my interest. It looked like a fairly competently made boss rush game, and I found myself in the mood to slay some Titans.
If you want to see how I fared, you can watch recordings of my battles here.
*Steam version purchased by reviewer.
While Titan Souls is not entire devoid of dialogue, it does not have much of a narrative. Those who look closely enough will find a hint of lore in the world. However, there is not much of it and everything is open to interpretation. This game is more focused gameplay than storytelling, and there is nothing wrong with that.
Despite the pixel art visual style, the bosses and environment of Titan Souls have quite a lot of detail to them. More impressively, the developers managed to achieve that level of detail without making things look like a cluttered mess. The game also has lovely color palettes and subtle environmental animations that make the world look vibrant and beautiful. From a more practical perspective, the visual designs work rather well. Without any primer other than visual cues, it is relatively simple to identify the weak points of almost all opponents the moment they come into view. While I am not normally a fan of this sort of aesthetic, I have no complaints here.
Titan Souls has quite a few tracks, including unique songs for each Titan. However, the fights tend to end quickly, so players might not hear too much of any particular melody. It is also difficult to focus on the music while locked in a room with a rampaging monstrosity. Those who do manage to listen during boss battles will hear tracks filled with flourishes that are fit for epic fights. When the player falls, the music cuts out abruptly, making it clear that the fun has come to a disappointing end. Outside of these confrontations, the background tracks are rather calm. Together with the graphics, they make the world seem peaceful and serene, as if the conflict is wholly unnecessary.
The game does not include voice acting, but it does make good use of its sound effects. Since every foe keeps to a specific pattern, their attacks create an audible rhythm. By following this rhythm, players can anticipate their movements and time their attacks. The actual sounds have a pretty low fidelity, making them feel right at home with the pixel art visual style. Still, they manage to convey the force of each impact and the sheer mass of the behemoths that throw themselves at the player.
In Titan Souls, players will face off against just under 20 creatures who posses great power. However, the protagonist can not sustain any damage without dying immediately. This makes every confrontation intense as a single slip-up can result in defeat. Thankfully, the fearsome foes are rather fragile themselves. Each enemy has a weak spot and they die the instant the player manages to hit it. Of course, they all have unique defense mechanisms that make doing so something of a challenge. It would hardly be a game otherwise. The central concept behind the game’s combat is to figure out how the Titans operate, find an opening, and exploit it. In a way, every fight is like a puzzle, though players still need sharp motor skills to land the fatal blow.
In addition to directional control, the game operates with two main buttons. One performs dodge rolls and allows the protagonist to run. The other fires the hero’s main weapon: a single arrow capable of slaying Titans in a single blow. After launching the arrow, the button changes functions to retrieval, pulling the projectile directly towards the main character. With enough momentum, this maneuvre can also be deadly. Perhaps the biggest catch is that the protagonist can not move while drawing or retrieving the arrow. Not only do players need to find a window of opportunity, they also need to ensure they can survive long enough to take advantage of it.
While not unbeatable, Titan Souls can be a little unforgiving. There is no aim assist present, and each shot is made under pressure as chances to strike are fleeting. Even when enemies are not in position to punish the player, a miss means having to brave their onslaught until they can reunite with their arrow for another attack. Thankfully, those who are not playing on Iron Mode have an endless supply of lives.
After the credits roll, players can choose to take on the game again with modifiers that add an extra challenge. When “Hard Mode” is on, boss battles become a bit more difficult. Some opponents fire additional projectiles, others move faster or use additional hazards, and a few fight with a bit of each enhancement. There is also a modifier that disables the player’s ability to dodge and run. While these modes help the game last longer, it still seems to be lacking longevity. Since figuring out how to defeat enemies is the focus of the game, there is not much value in continuing to play after you already know everything. Furthermore, while not every boss is necessary to earn it, the achievement for reaching the end in under 20 minutes shows just how short the game can be.
Still, the quick nature of the game can be part of its appeal. Since bosses die in one hit, fights end as soon as the player proves they can win. It is rather nice to play a game that does not pad its run time by forcing repetition after the player has already found the solution.
Surprisingly enough, there is more to Titan Souls than just slaughtering everything you see. While traversing the land between bosses, players may find a few minor puzzles. Naturally, solving these simply unlocks the path to additional fights. It is the point of the game, after all. The puzzles themselves happen to be fairly straightforward and do not take too much effort to complete. Still, they add a little more content to the game.
Technically, the game is playable with just a keyboard. However, not being able to aim or move at angles below 45 degrees makes it less than optimal. The game itself recommends using a controller, and so do I.
Titan Souls is a fairly decent boss rush style action game. All of its enemies have unique gimmicks that give it a puzzle-like nature. However, it still demands precision under pressure as windows of opportunity close fairly quickly. Confrontations do not typically last long, which can make the game seem a bit short on content. However, the lack of repetition is rather nice. The most fearsome of foes die the instant the player manages to hit their weak spot, so battles end as soon as they prove they can win without any extra hassle. The game also features pretty visuals and competent sound design, which is always a plus. Overall, the game seems like a good choice for anyone who is looking to face a series of boss fights.