As a quick disclaimer, I received Titan Souls as part of the Playstation Plus Free Games program. I think that technically means I bought it, but I wanted to throw that out there in case it matters to anyone.
The term ‘Souls’ nowadays seems to be synonymous with difficult gameplay and vague storytelling. Titan Souls, though completely unrelated to the series that started this trend, does manage to strike a similar chord. It is a small indie game focused on creative boss battles and difficult, twitch reflex combat. You are a nameless ‘hero’ armed with a single arrow. Your mission? To slay the titans and claim their souls. You motivation? Er…truth?
Titan Souls is all about the bosses. Aside from navigating the gorgeous pixel art over-world, your sole purpose is to slay the giant titans that lie hidden across the map. While that may sound like a game lacking variety, each boss is unique and most have some clever mechanic for you to decipher in order to defeat them. Some move quickly and require you to puzzle out their pattern to get your shot in, while others don’t immediately reveal their weak point, requiring you to survive and experiment long enough to figure it out. Not every boss stands out as a really memorable challenge, but the majority do. In fact, I’d go so far as to say some of the later bosses (the last two come to mind especially) feel downright impossible. If you’re not the type to dig in your heels and keep marching when the road gets tough, prepare to bounce off Titan Souls pretty hard.
Of course, some of the difficulty might also stem from your limited arsenal. Over the course of the entire game, you will be armed with just a single arrow. Just one arrow to defeat over a dozen elemental titans. Its a magic arrow mind you, so once its fired you can hold the trigger to recall it to your hand, but boy did it make for some tense moments, dodging and rolling around the arena as I tried to pick my arrow back up to take another shot. There is a story arrow for the singular arrow it seems, but I won’t spoil it here, partially because I really have no idea what said story reason is!
Aside from the difficulty, Titan Souls also borrows some of the Souls series’ penchant for ambiguous storytelling. All of the storytelling is environmental, appearing in the boss names and pictographs chiseled on the sides of monuments. On your first play-through, you won’t even be able to read these things, hidden as they are in the titans’ language. Personally, I like it when a developer obfuscates the story. I like to puzzle things out and come to my own conclusions, but Titan Souls went a little far in this regard even by my standards. At the end, I really wasn’t sure why I’d killed all those titans or what it had gained me. It’s possible I missed some key element or clue that would tie everything together, but after the grueling boss march, I’m not quite ready to jump back in.
Overall, I’d recommend Titan Souls to someone who plays video games for a challenge. Beyond the normal campaign, there are also variations that remove your ability to run and dodge (yikes), and an iron mode that limits you to a single life (YIKES!). Add in the achievements for speedrunning the game and a hard mode that ramps up boss speed and attack frequency, and you have a game for masochists. Pick it up if that sounds like a wall you’d like to bang your head against, or watch over someone else’s shoulder if you just want to admire the cool boss designs and great soundtrack. Leave your thoughts below if you’ve had a chance to play Titan Souls in the past, and as always, thanks for reading.