Like with all art forms, one generation of games can inspire the next. It is very clear where the inspiration behind Titan Souls, the action-adventure game by Acid Nerve, came from. This passion project holds incredibly true to its inspirations, though sometimes to a fault.
The rules of Titan Souls are fairly simple. You can run and dodge roll, you have a bow with one shot, and you can summon that single arrow back to you after firing it. Your goal is to find the Titans, and defeat them. The good news is that every Titan only takes one hit to defeat. The bad news is that you do as well. This proved to be one of the most satisfying aspects of the game, creating a sense of fairness in most of the fights I faced.
It's worth mentioning where the games inspirations come from. While some are almost painfully clear, others aren't as prevalent as one may initially believe. Titan Souls is extremely true to the design of Shadow of The Colossus. You roam across an overworld, defeating Titans and collecting their souls. Despite what many assume, very little inspiration from the Dark Souls game series can be found. Dark Souls, while it also had large, intimidating bosses and frequent death, was focused heavily on custom loadouts and RPG leveling systems. If you couldn't beat a boss, you could grind until you were stronger or had better gear. In Titan Souls, there is no leveling and no gear. The greatest presence Dark Souls has on this game is in the title.
Taking the game on its own merits, rather than the sum of its influences, it's still marvelously designed. Acid Nerve recognized what game mechanics retain that stainless steel shine over time. Not only did they meld them together fluidly, they did so without overwhelming the player. It's easy to want to add more and more until your game is ready to burst. It's even easier to unintentionally break the player's enjoyment apart as a result.
Every Titan is remarkably different from the last, with the exception of the Gols. Each area has a Titan with a "Gol-" prefix. The Gols shared the same design, a face with two floating fists. Even so, the different Gols were expansions of each other, allowing both a feeling of diversity and familiarity.
Titan Soul's greatest flaw actually lies with just how little there is in the game. While the boss fights were challenging and satisfying, the world around them was vast and aimless. After you beat the first four Titans, you are guided into the main overworld. From here you can go one of four directions, each one leading to an area with two to three Titans.
The game does not direct you towards the next Titan. In a way, there is no "next" Titan. The difficulty between them isn't linear, so you can defeat them in any order you wish. While this is all fine and dandy, I was left with a certain aimlessness. Where should I go next? Even worse was when I would clear out an area of Titans, and struggle to find my way to the next area. If I had gone in the wrong direction, it was a good 5-7 minutes of wandering before I found something new. More than once I found myself typing "Titan Souls Map" into Google, trying to get my bearings.
The worst instance of indirection is with The Elder. This optional Titan isn't as much a fight as it is seemingly the games only chance for exposition. You don't need to defeat the Elder to beat the game, but it is required for the "all bosses" ending. The easy kill wasn't what made me remember the experience with a newfound sense of indignation, it was finding it.
In the east-most section of the overworld, you'll find a small cliff leading to nowhere. That's what I thought, at least. I was wrong. If you walk into the wall on the left, over by the small patch of dirt, you'll discover a secret passageway that leads to the Elder Titan. With no apparent direction or indication given prior, I would have never guessed to rub myself on the local cliffsides on the off chance of finding something new. To hide a Titan behind this secret, which I had to look up online to find, left me with nothing short of irritation.
Titan Souls is a finely tuned adventure. The gameplay and existing mechanics were done exceedingly well. Any issues that were present were due to what wasn't there. With an approximate 4 hour playtime to defeat all 18 Titans, Titan Souls is well worth your money and your time.
If you're interested in playing Titan Souls, but having a hard time finding or defeating a certain boss, check out the Gamerzunite YouTube channel! We have a list of guides to help with each boss.