Sitting down with ACID NERVE’s Titan Souls is an experience I can only describe as nostalgic. Reminiscent to huddling under my bedside-table lamp in a struggle to get as much light as possible onto the screen of my Game Boy Colour. Stepping into its quaintly retro world with nothing but a bow and a single boomerang-like arrow feels like a charming return to the simplicity of the past. This simplicity seems to be the core from which Titan Souls’ gameplay draws from, with only two buttons to sprint, roll and fire your arrow, alongside fully 3D controls with the analog stick or D-pad.
Basics out of the way, I set about heading up the lonely path towards a creepy door adorned with a pulsating eyeball. Naturally, I shot it, and proceeded through the open archway. Standing at the bottom of a huge structure, I was met with what sounded eerily like rhythmic basketball dribbling. You can imagine my disappointment when it was in fact not basketball legend Dikembe Mutombo who greeted me, but a weird, dodgy looking mass of bouncy green slime that proceeded to squish me repeatedly till I learned to kill it. Welcome to Titan Souls, eh?
However! My tentative first steps were not for nothing. From this simple, albeit fun and well-designed fight, I was given insight into how the mechanics of the game work and would continue to work throughout. I learned that my character would die if hit once. I learned that after using my arrow to expose the weak-point of a boss, they too could only handle one hit. My first fight also taught me to be observant and I quickly discovered an interesting theme that linked together the game’s introductory bosses.
Bosses, which similarly to the first, were designed in a way that quietly and sub-consciously teaches players how to deal with the progressively more difficult challenges that fighting these Titan Souls present. Over the course of the next twenty or so minutes, I had defeated the game’s tutorial bosses and opened a gate to the larger world beyond.
It is in this larger world that Titan Souls really becomes quite lovely. A subtle nod to classics of the past like Shadow of the Colossus, I was given complete freedom to roam about wherever I pleased, albeit without my chirpy horse companion. Regardless, I found myself quite taken by the atmosphere of mystery and isolation. The game’s accompanying soundtrack wafts a similar simplicity but remains beautifully orchestrated, fitting each individual environment like a glove.
And that’s that really. My experience thus far with Titan Souls has been rather lovely. Coming off the back of recent heavy hitters like Bloodborne and Battlefield: Hardline, it’s nice to be able to just sit down, chill out and not have the constant threat of painful death loom over my head like a big green slime monster… wait a minute!