Titan Souls makes you really appreciate only living one life
While Demon’s Souls and Dark Souls arguably revived a passion for punishing games, their complex systems and obstacle-course level design put many off. However, the idea of valuing your characters life was important, it resonated with players around the world. Suddenly you weren’t invincible thanks to unlimited lives and respawns, your actions finally had consequences.
To call Titan Souls an extension of this gameplay ideal is to sell it short. Influenced by the Ludlum Dare theme of “you only get one”, developers Mark Forster, David Fenn and Andrew Gleeson of Acid Nerve realised they had something special on their hands.
In Titan Souls you have one life, 1HP and one arrow. You’re tasked with defeating 18 Titans, each one also only having one life and 1HP. There are no power ups or weapon upgrades to help you here. Just like Shadow of the Colossus, the game that Acid Nerve say influenced development the most, you defeat these hulking beasts through learning their attack patterns and exposing their weaknesses. It’s exhilarating, but be prepared to die more times than you’d expect.
In Titan Souls death isn’t the end, far from it. Within seconds you’re revived back at the area hub, able to seek vengeance on your killer, or to venture off in search of another Titan to fell. Thanks to a run mechanic, which I initially forgot about, navigating the vast and eerily empty hub world doesn’t take too long. This means you never really feel like you’re trudging around the world map just to lose again and repeat the process.
Like in Dark Souls, death is actually a valuable tool for stepping back and assessing your opponent. For a game focused on such simple ideas, boss fights use your bow and arrow in incredibly inventive ways. It’s almost guaranteed that you won’t kill two bosses in the same way. Because of this, every boss fights feels pleasingly different. Towards the start bosses require little more than sharp aiming and quick reflexes, but as you progress it becomes about how you utilise your bow.
Without spoiling anything, one fantastic boss in the volcanic region of Titan Souls‘ overworld had me hooked for nearly an hour. Working out how to defeat it provided nearly as much satisfaction as actually defeating the bugger. Even the opening four bosses provide the same level of satisfaction. And, while you’d imagine some bosses are easier than others, success genuinely all boils down to putting your learnt skills to the test.
Some of you may be pleased to know that you won’t have to defeat every boss to complete Titan Souls. After defeating the first four bosses, you unlock the larger overworld. Defeat seven more and you’ll unlock the final area and set of bosses. However, to unlock the true final boss you have to take down all titans stood in your way.
Set to release later this year, Titan Souls is a sure fire success for Acid Nerve and yet another indie gem for Devolver Digital.