Indie Impressions: Titan Souls (Prototype Demo)
I'm not sure exactly why or when it started, but I've become completely obsessed with Titan Souls and its imminent release. Despite having watched little gameplay, only knowing basic details on how it works, and having yet to read through an actual preview of the game, there's just been something about it that I can't describe which makes me feel it's going to be something special. After sitting down with the current demo build I can only say that whatever excitement I previously had is now monumentally higher, making the game almost certainly my most anticipated release this year so far. If you (like me) have little understanding of what Titan Souls is, the basic setup is you are a warrior attempting to take on a sequence of huge bosses, each with their own quirks and strategy. The most obvious comparison to make is to Shadow of the Colossus, both being focused entirely around boss battles set in an otherwise eerily empty yet beautiful world that likely holds more secrets than it lets on. Dark Souls' influence (as if it hasn't been cited for comparison enough) is also felt in the consiceness of movement and the weakness of your character. Titan Souls separates itself though by a commitment to a very pure, minimal mechanical foundation which (as far as I can tell) never evolves past what you're capable of at the start of the game.
It's a refreshingly arcade like design which allows complexity to come from the boss designs, each of which are amazingly unique and initially incomprehensible. In all three instances available in the demo, there was only ever one way to defeat a boss but doing so required precisely exploiting narrow windows of opportunity that are far more involved than your limited moveset would let on.
What I found most fascinating though was how Titan Souls always positions your enemies on equal footing with your own character. Though they may be heavily armored, if you can manage to send an arrow into their weak spot they'll go down in a single hit. It's a design decision that gives you an immense feeling of power. Though you can be squashed instantly by the behemoths you're up against, your ability to take them down is always within grasp, relying purely on taking advantage of a moment of opportunity rather than stats or complex movements. Giving you only a single arrow which you have to run over to retrieve helped heighten the feeling that every shot I made was important. If I missed I might die trying to get my arrow back to try again, forcing me to avoid firing at random but finding ways to still force me into taking risks.
My only grievance with what I played (which I of course can't say for certain will be in the final game), is that upon death you're returned to the center of the hub you travel through to get to bosses. It adds a few seconds of trivial travel to retrying bosses that I found increasingly annoying the more I died and the seconds began to add up. It's not long enough to give a sense of embarking on a journey to find your enemies, but also isn't short enough to not be extremely noticeable, and I can't see any reason it wouldn't be preferable to start you at the beginning of the boss you were fighting when you inevitably die.
That aside I can't begin to describe the level of enthusiasm I came away with after playing this demo. I'm in love with (almost) everything Titan Souls is doing, and can only imagine how it might be expanded upon in the full release. If you're on the fence I'd urge you to give the demo a try, and then come and join me as I count down the days until release later this month.