Titan Souls is one of those games that causes a polarizing effect on the players who play it, as it's very hit or miss depending on the experience that plays out. Several publications, as well as myself, have drawn comparisons to the famous Shadow of the Colossus. There is an essence of truth to this due to the Boss Rush nature of the game, and the fact that the combat is less about technical precision and more about solving the puzzle of your enemy. In Shadow of the Colossus, it's about finding your way up the colossus as you climb up a mountain of an enemy, while in Titan Souls, it's about putting yourself into position to throw an arrow into the eventually figured out weakness of your foe without dying in the process.
The story plays out with a mysterious air about it and doesn't do a lot to explain it. It's basically a back drop behind the encounters with the Titans in question and nothing more. You don't know much about the Titans, and much about what exactly they are doing in the world. Whether they are evil or not, it doesn't really matter – you have to kill them regardless.
The core of the game has to do with facing Titan. Each battle plays out like this: dance around your foe until you get an idea of how to beat them, whether it be trying to fire at them and noticing their reaction, or looking for a weak spot at a certain angle or during a certain attack movement by the titan in question. You don't have a lot to work with here: as you only have one attack: the firing of your single arrow. That's right, not an arsenal of guns, swords, and magic, one single solitary arrow which you can summon back. And you have the ability to run and dodge so that the various titans don't squish you.
The strength of Titan Souls lies in the dance between the player and the Titan as you try to figure out how to beat him. This is the kind of game where you don't want to see a full run through of all the bosses in question, as you'll lose the games strongest element: the puzzle aspect of the game. Almost every boss plays out differently, and despite the limited number of mechanics, the game does a great job in mixing up the possible solutions to taking out the Titan itself. Now note: you die on one hit, with rare exceptions when you just get stunned, but in most cases the same is true for the Titan once you expose his weak spot. You'll die repeatedly on certain fights, leaving you wondering what you are doing wrong or what you are missing about the Titan in question. There's really only one true repeat of a boss toward the end of the game as well, so you're not fighting different versions of the same enemy. Fights can literally lasts seconds if you can time your arrow right and recognize the pattern of the boss in question, and it's the kind of game in which speed runners will definitely take a liking to, as they try to shave off seconds off their run time facing the 18 titans (and a 19th after the game is completed.)
Now don't get me wrong – there is skill involved as you'll need good aim and the right timing to hit that weak spot in question. In addition, the controls complement the gameplay perfectly as you are most definitely in control when playing with a controller (which I would recommend highly for a game like this). I never felt that the game was throwing me a challenge that I couldn't take care of, or that I was in a fight that I felt under equipped for in terms of knowledge. Sure, dying repeatedly to a titan would usually revealed information over a period of time, but there was nothing stopping me from figuring that out on the first run, nor dodging enough to figure it out during that same first run.
But in that same breath, one of the major flaws of Titan Souls stands out. Unlike the Shadow of the Colossus set of fights, there's not a lot to offset the fights in question. Sure, you run to the next area to find it, but unlike the dramatic build up with Agro making your way to the next colossi, Titan Souls usually groups 2/3 bosses in the same area. And because of the short nature of each fight possibly, you can beat the game in an hour or two. Sure, there's extra modes to unlock such as one life mode and hard mode, but with the majority of the game experienced at that point, it's more about repetition. While a Boss Rush is a good experience in itself, the game's price tag is hard to justify at times with the return of hours played. It's a unique experience, that much is certain, but several people who buy Titan Souls at it's full price will feel like the game has come up short, and that's where the game ultimately will fail for the consumer in question. The quality of those hours in my mind is high, but you must be aware that the game will not keep your interest for an extended period of time.
The other big strength about Titan Souls is its art and music direction. The amount of detail that the artist got within the pixel world is pretty damn amazing, and sets the backdrop for the beautiful world in question, as you'll run through areas of lava, swamp, and ice. But the soundtrack is the star here: as the music sets up for confrontations and is appropriate at every single encounter. It doesn't overuse the "epic" music style that you see a lot of boss fights do now a days, it seemingly plays each note appropriate to the situation in question, and is something that a certain type of person (myself) can listen to hours on end. The additional 5 bucks for the collector's edition is worth it for the soundtrack alone in my opinion.
Titan Souls was purchased by the reviewer and reviewed on the PC.
Overall, a great series of fights and fantastic music and sound design ultimately let down by its lack of content in the long haul.