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Titan Souls review for PS Vita, PS4


Platform: PS Vita
Also On: PS4, PC
Publisher: Devolver Digital
Developer: Acid Nerve
Medium: Digital
Players: 1
Online: No
ESRB: T

The first thing you discover about Titan Souls is that it doesn't pussyfoot around. One second you're learning how to run, the next you're learning how to shoot your arrow, and the third second in (give or take a few moments, depending on how quickly you're moving) you've arrived at the game's first boss fight. At which point you'll most likely die.

And die again. And again. And again. And again and again and again.

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It's possible, of course, that you won't die immediately. If you're both an incredibly fast learner and have a fair amount of luck on your side, you may not end your first moments with the game being absorbed by giant, bouncing balls of goo. You might just somehow instantly figure out how to beat that boss, and emerge victorious.

Except then you're on to the giant stone eyeball, and you'll have to do it all over again. Or you're on to the brain in an icecube. Or the sentient building with giant hands. Or the…well, you probably get the idea. The bottom line is, this game is constantly trying to kill you. Which, really, makes sense, since Titan Souls is literally nothing but boss fights, and if video game bosses can't kill you, what will?

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Of course, how much you enjoy all those boss fights depends entirely on how hard you want your games to be. Because make no mistake: Titan Souls is insanely hard. There's no gradual slope upwards here as far as difficulty goes; you're tossed into the deep end instantly, and it just keeps harder and harder from there. You're armed only with a single arrow, which you have to retrieve after every shot. Each boss has different weak points, and none of them move in any obvious patterns. And, to top it all off, every boss kills you with a single hit, at which point you're instantly sent back to the checkpoint, which means there's no grinding your way through a level and using attrition as a strategy — you either kill the boss or you don't.

It should come as no surprise, of course, that aesthetically Titan Souls borrows quite a bit from the '80s. The top-down, blocky graphics are reminiscent of the Legend of Zelda games, while the simple melody harkens back to the earlier days of gaming, too. Couple that with the simple controls (one button to run, one button to launch your arrow), and you can see how this game feels like it could've been a missing gem from the NES.

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And "gem" is definitely the appropriate word in this case. Titan Souls is a tough game, but it's also one that's both simple and fun. It may never make it easy on the player, but it also never tries to complicate things too much. It's the perfect game for when you just want to pick up something and play…provided you don't mind dying a whole bunch before you put it back down.

Grade: B+