Search for Truth in the Dead, Deadly World of Titan Souls

It’s quiet as players find themselves standing among the strange ruins that make up the opening area of Titan Souls.

It’s bright, seemingly mid-afternoon, and everything is peaceful. On the ruins near the seal where your androgynous, 8-bitish character first appears are green representations of vines and moss. This place has been here a long time. You are the chaos come to disrupt it.

You enter the nearest door, which is up a pair of reverential, short flights of stairs. The ruins give a ceremonial feel; the ancient ritual places of a bygone people. When you step through the door, you’re confronted by a giant gelatinous blob.

It immediately sets out to kill you. You respond in kind.

Your work is cut out for you, as you’re not especially well prepared for this (or any) fight. You carry a single weapon: a bow with one arrow. You can fire the arrow in any direction but you can’t move while doing so. Once fired, you must retrieve the arrow either by scurrying to wherever it lands, or by magically drawing it back to you as if by telekinesis. It is deadly to the fiend both coming and going, and it takes few strikes to actually kill the beast — two shots cleave away excess goo, creating smaller, faster enemies that continue after you. A third pierces the heart within the creature, destroying it.

Little has changed as you leave the room and enter another in the ruins. Within is a cube sporting a great eye, which moves by rotating over the grid-like floor and periodically fires an intense laser beam in whichever direction it happens to be facing. Here you learn you are as vulnerable as your prey — a single misstep, a bad dodge roll, and you’re crushed by the fast-moving cube or cooked by the beam.

Somewhat mystically, you’re reborn hovering over the seal outside, ready to face down the titan again, and again, until it is vanquished.

Titan Souls wears its game influences on its tunic sleeve, taking points from some of the best-loved titles and franchises in history. It looks and controls like The Legend of Zelda from 1986 with its top-down perspective and graphical style, although gamepad support guarantees players 360-degrees of aiming capability.

From Shadow of the Colossus it takes inspiration in premise — that of a loan warrior fighting huge, ancient creatures in a strange, dead civilization, and as a game that consists wholly of what would be considered “boss” encounters. And from Dark Souls, as the name implies, it takes tips on difficulty: Players learn through attrition, the crucible of combat, and death’s close-at-hand presence serves as teacher that makes you better with each failure.

Where the game diverts from those influences is in how its fights actually play out. You’ll spend your first encounter with almost every one of Titan Souls’ bosses observing, learning how they move, how they attack, and how to destroy them. Each fight requires a perfect combination of understanding, timing and execution — with a little bit of luck — in order for players to emerge victorious and not find themselves starting over. A single misstep costs the battle.

Titan Souls began its existence as an entry into the Ludum Dare 29 game jam, under the theme “You Only Get One.” The original conception featured four titans. That version was completed in three days, Acid Nerve Lead Designer Mark Foster said; the full version will be a great deal bigger and three-man Titan Souls team has already been working on it for five months.

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