And leaves you wanting more
One of the smaller games at E3 left the biggest impression on me. Titan Souls is a Ludum Dare entrant that was picked up by Devolver Digital to publish on PC, PS4, and PS Vita — sort of an appropriate underdog’s story that mirrors what takes place in the game. It’s an against-all-odds adventure that proves the value of a lot of hard work and a little bit of luck. However, unlike anyone playing Titan Souls, the developers probably didn’t have to fail several times before achieving success.
Titan Souls was first introduced to the world as a combination of Shadow of the Colossus meets Dark Souls. The Shadow of the Colossus part comes from the fact that there are only eight enemies in the game, and they’re all boss-like in stature (Update: Devolver reached out to us to clarify that there will be “20 titans or so” in the final version). The Dark Souls bit has to do with the unrelenting difficulty. That’s an easy sell to a lot of people that know their videogames.
But, this top-down adventure game carves out an identity of its own. Woefully underpowered with just a single arrow that can be shot and then slowly summoned back with the press of a button, each boss requires a different strategy to best, most of them able to be killed quickly or even with one hit for those that know what they’re doing.
Strategy’s paramount, though, because part of being underpowered is that the player’s always killed with one hit. The ability to run and roll help to escape the clutches of death, but with every battle taking place within the confines of an arena, there isn’t that much space to move around to — especially considering how highly mobile the enemies are.
Despite the relative difficulty of their game, the developers were unwilling to talk to me about ways to make things easier on myself. Sitting back with smug looks on their faces, they knew that Titan Souls was best consumed as a learning experience — each defeat hopefully training you for the next go ’round. They were more than happy to offer sharp inhales and gasps when I’d gotten myself into predicaments, like a crowd at a sporting event. But advice? No, that wasn’t happening.
It was for the best though, because I didn’t want anything to cheapen my determination and ultimate successes. I had only gotten the chance to take down two of the four bosses in the demo, but I wanted more. When the PR rep told me that my time was up because it was time for the next appointment, I actively resented her for a moment. That’s the kind of mindset that Titan Souls put me in almost immediately.
After beating a boss and then succumbing quickly to the next one, I was elated to find out that my progress was saved, and I wouldn’t need to redo it all. “No, we wouldn’t do that to you,” one of the developers said before trailing off and adding that they might add an achievement for clearing them all consecutively. There’s also talk of some sort of “new game plus” mode to keep gameplay fresh. However, clearing the game once won’t be a small feat by itself, but when it happens, it’ll come from the smallest source against the biggest odds.