E3 2014: Titan Souls Is Part Shadow of the Colossus, Part Dark Souls, and All Fun

Dark shadow.

The developers of Titan Souls sure talk a big game. Being inspired by Dark Souls and Shadow of the Colossus means they've set their sights on two of the greatest games ever created. How in the world could any game possibly live up to that pedigree? Well, I am not going to get crazy by saying Titan Souls blows those two masterpieces out of the water (though that would have made for an attention-grabbing headline). But I don't think that comparison is out of place, either. This is an expertly designed, punishing action game in which bosses are your only foe (hello, Shadow of the Colossus) and any small mistake is cause for your immediate death (is that you Dark Souls?). But don't worry about how it stacks up to its progenitors. Instead, enjoy Titan Souls for what it is: another challenging adventure in which the thrill of victory is everything.

Things start simply enough. You play as a lone wanderer in a very foreign place. As you walk through the world, you see writing etched on the walls, streams running down mountain paths, and caves beckoning you to enter. It's almost peaceful. There are no animals to harm you or people to get in your way. It's just a lovely place to exist, reminiscent of The Legend of Zelda by way of Sword & Sorcery. The music adds to the dreamy atmosphere. A soulful melody warms your heart and calms your senses. Titan Souls would be a great place to take a vacation.

And then you enter one of those caves. The music suddenly shifts, becoming enraged and energetic, as a colossal boss rushes toward you. Isn't that always the case? You're relaxing on a beach in New Zealand when a cube creature tries to kill you. Well, you're not just going to wait to get flattened, are you? Dodge out of the way! The cube moves so fluidly you'd swear its sides were greased, and you have to run as fast as you can to keep it from squishing you. How could you even attack the darn thing when you're running for your life? And then it lunges in one direction while you dive in another, and you've bought some breathing room to mount your own attack. Aim carefully (and quickly, you have only a split second), and fire your arrow at is weak spot.

Did you land the hit? Congratulations, you just defeated your first boss. Yup, it takes only one hit. Of course, if you had been squished first, than you would have perished just as quickly. And if you had missed? Well, you can call the arrow back toward you while it's still airborne, or pick it back up once it's on the ground. So you see, even though the fights are incredibly frantic, you can't panic. Spamming your attack is going to lead to failure and frustration. Take your time, play smart, and end that monster's life like all the best hunters do.

Not every boss in this easy. Yes, once you hit any of their weak spots, you win, but sometimes you have to do a little work to get to that point. Against a gelatinous blob, every hit slices it in half. So there's a whole group of bouncy monsters trying to flatten you as you create more and more hostile threats to get to the weak point buried under layers of fat. And if you die (which you often will), the music stops on a dime. It's really a great effect. Your heart is racing as you sprint around an arena, and you're nodding your head to the infectious tunes. And then you get too close to your foe and end up dead, and everything just stops. The screen goes black, the music dies, and you're left with your own sad thoughts.

One of the most appealing things is that there's no character upgrade. Having trouble killing that barebacked yeti? You can either move on to another battle or get better. It's a great system because you know that it's your own skill that needs enhancement, so instead of looking for an easy way to victory by improving your speed or power, you're looking within to figure out how you can do better. Everyone is on the same page, all the time, so you have no one to blame for failure but yourself.

One thing that I noticed is that at the start of every fight you see an odd assortment of characters on the screen. It seemed like a foreign language announcing who your foe was, but I wasn't sure. I asked the developers if we might see a nod to Ico or Nier, in which you learn the language of your enemies on a second playthrough. They didn't want to answer, which makes me think they're cooking up something interesting for New Game Plus. But for now, I'm just anxious for my first playthrough. Titan Souls isn't coming out until early next year (like every other game!) on the PC, and slightly later on the PS4 and Vita. It's going to be a long wait for me. I love difficult games that are fair, and the mysterious premise further cements Titan Souls as a game to watch out for.

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20 comments
rcmdawg
rcmdawg

I'll get it on PS4. Looks fun!

Sl4cka
Sl4cka

"Well, I am not going to get crazy by saying Titan Souls blows those two masterpieces out of the water (though that would have made for an attention-grabbing headline)."

Where's Eddie when you need him...

DanielL5583
DanielL5583

Holy balls, this game is getting coverage.

Good game, and decently addictive if you really want to get to the end...which I still haven't.

spacecadet25
spacecadet25

It's hard to tell, but is this little blocky main character a man, a dirty stinky man?  Sexist!  If this indie developer wasn't sexist this little character would would have different genitals in its pants, right Gamespot?

spacecadet25
spacecadet25

Hmm, so squares seem to be the visual theme, based on the screenshots provided.  Will it be in 1080p?  :)

Thanatos2k
Thanatos2k

How exactly is this game like Dark Souls?  It's hard?  You die in one hit?  That's more Contra than Dark Souls, especially given the game looks like it came from the SNES.


You do know there have been plenty of hard games throughout gaming history, right?  Games far harder than Dark Souls?


The only reasons to say this game is like Dark Souls is so you could make a clickbait headline.

john_matrix_007
john_matrix_007

This sounded pretty great. Then I scrolled down and saw the NES-quality screenshots. Then I stopped reading the article.

jeager_titan
jeager_titan

I've already played a part of the game. This game is so hard that I had watch a "lets play" on youtube. A beautiful game nonetheless. And tom, are there gonna be more bosses? Because the version I played had only 4 bosses and 3 of them was accessible from the start.

Paoksis
Paoksis

so bad this is  snes game....

maneauleau
maneauleau

Aesthetic reminds me a lot of Hyper Light Drifter but with less swag

adsparky
adsparky

If the headline is true then this game is Awesome.

meatz666
meatz666

@Thanatos2k I was going to say exactly that. So now we can get any repetitive game and call "inspired by Dark Souls"? Don't get me wrong, the repetition in DS is well implemented, but devs must be really careful when doing so. A great example of a hardgame/repetition done right is Super Meat Boy too. 

spacecadet25
spacecadet25

@john_matrix_007  But wait, didn't you read that it was really hard, and that you die a lot?  That's what makes a good game nowadays... :)

spacecadet25
spacecadet25

@jeager_titan  "Another challenging adventure in which the thrill of victory is everything."  I think that line of the article says it all.  Unfortunately, when I play games I like the thrill of victory AND to have fun the entire time I'm playing.

hitomo
hitomo

@adsparky  but by looking at the pictures we suddenly realise ... the usual GS indie game prank

spacecadet25
spacecadet25

@meatz666  I think the Trials series is the pinnacle of that done well.  When you fail you're right back where you died, and loading time is non-existent.  The best way to handle a lot of deaths/faults.

jeager_titan
jeager_titan

@spacecadet25 @jeager_titan Actually I did manage to kill one boss and he is right about the trill of victory. It is satisfying. Also the game did have a nice little twist ending.