Titan Souls Is Shadow Of The Colossus Meets Dark Souls

Oh my, what an astounding little thing Titan Souls is, especially given that it was developed as part of Ludum Dare 28 in only a couple days. It’s open and sparse, but all the more powerful for it. A lilting piano melody beckons you into a world of giants with each come-hither note, and as A Videogame Character, it’s your job to slay them. The twist? In line with LD28’s theme of “you only get one,” you have just one arrow and one HP with which to bring down four titans. Also, you can dodge roll like a crazy person. I highly recommend it. Titan Souls is not an easy game.

The lush, green overworld is nice to look at, but rune-encrusted temples are where the action happens. Each one contains a different titan, and kicking off a battle is as easy as firing your arrow at their slumbering forms. Now, if you’ve been following along up to this point, you’ve probably noticed a rather pressing logical fallacy: if your one arrow functioned as the starting gun for a titanic tussle, how do you fight after that? Easy. You take it back.

Your arrow never goes away. Instead, it simply pings off titans, walls, and things of the like, at which point you can make a mad dash to retrieve it. Problem is, titans are fairly relentless, so avoiding their lunging advances is priority number one. Fortunately, you also happen to conveniently be some kind of medieval Jedi, which grants you the ability to summon your arrow back by holding down the same button you fired it with.

The flow of combat, then, is equal parts nail-biting and surprisingly tangible. Holding down the key to fire your single arrow results in a camera zoom-in and an audible straining of fibers, and each shot thuds like it matters. Summoning your arrow, meanwhile, also requires a sustained key press, and the screen darkens around you as the arrow slowly, purposefully makes its way back. The effect is this moment of perfect vulnerability. It’s just you and the arrow. And also the hulking brain monster attempting to splatter your significantly smaller cranium mere inches away. Pulllllllll. Come on come on come on aaaaand… caught my arrow! NOW ROLL OUT OF THE WAY OH GOD. Phew. And then rinse, repeat, etc.

Each titan reveals its weakpoint very clearly, but also for incredibly brief windows of time. Ultimately, Titan Souls is a game of precision positioning and timing. Even if you’ve got a titan’s pattern down pat (and honestly, that part’s not very hard), it won’t mean squat if you loose your arrow a half-second too late. That said, I did figure out a loophole. Your arrow, you see, works in both directions. So I managed to fire it behind an enemy, wait until its weak point was unguarded, and then yank it back to me – and right through a titan’s colossal glowing eyeball. I won’t lie: it was a pretty magnificent moment.

Titans Souls does have a couple downsides, though. Its controls are grid-based and thus, in the context of aiming an arrow, off-puttingly rigid. Rolling can be a bit weird sometimes, too. If you die a lot, back-tracking to each temple can also become annoying, especially when you have to slowly meander through a maze. However, the game is really short once you figure out every boss. I beat it in 20 minutes or so. Despite that, it’s a nicely atmospheric ride while it lasts, and the challenge is healthy without being unfair. Check it out here.


  1. guygodbois00 says:

    “I won’t lie: it was a pretty magnificent moment.”
    Mr Grayson, I had always pegged you for a faux-gamer, but very talented journo. After this article I’m done with that faux. I will read your thoughts on games now-on on entirely new merit. Great read and and all that, anywho.

    • Bent Wooden Spoon says:


      What? Do we have grades lower than “casual” now? Hardcore, casual, faux?

      This liking playing video games is awfully confusing, it’s so hard to get it right.

      • The Random One says:

        He only pretends to like video games to get girls. OBVIOUSLY.

        • basilisk says:

          Don’t we all?

        • Bent Wooden Spoon says:

          Shows how much I know about gaming – I was thinking that it was something to do with being a “hipster”. I’ve heard that everyone on the internet these days is a “hipster”, which means they have a “neck beard” and wear a fedora. I don’t know what I’m supposed to be; I have a beard but it’s mostly on my face, and I also have a moustache because I’m not Amish. I can’t seem to find any guides to help me either, every time I’ve looked I just come up with opinionated people shouting obscenities at each other.

          Gaming was much easier back in the 80s and 90s, you only had to be able to read manuals (in some cases not even that) and use DOS.

          • Danley says:

            Are you going to log on yet or are you just going to keep replying to the tutorial bots? You do realize that none of this has been the Internet and this has all been an orientation in not how to act? (Except anthile’s reply. That shit was for real.) Also, you’ve got mail.

            My favorite thing about Christian theology is this claim it makes about the cruelty of the world being a tiny insignificance in the whole of all perfect creation, that it takes a leap of faith to believe such a universe exists, but that to take such a leap in good faith you must simultaneously stop contributing to the cruelty around you. Because for there to be a world perfectly devoid of cruelty, and you to be in it, you as an individual must have necessarily given up being cruel.

            You’re doing fine on the Internet. We’re just ten-year-olds. And robots.

    • jrodman says:

      The idea that people who like different things in games than you are not real gamers, or fake, is gross. It’s one of the most disgusting things in the gaming audience, right up there with the homophobia and sexism. Stop it.

  2. fluffy_thedestroyer says:

    If he did that in a couple of days, then it looks good. I didn’t try it of course but none the less it looks good

  3. Viroso says:

    If I could move while aiming or if I was sent back to the start of a temple. As it is, I feel like it’s too hard. That jumping boss, there’s no time to get in front of it, pull the arrow and shoot it before it starts rolling, but if I stand still with arrow aimed, he harmlessly jumps everywhere except close to me.

  4. MOKKA says:

    Great game, shame that it’s hard to control on a qwertz-keyboard. I tried switching the language of my OS, but it didn’t seem to work.

    A small advice to indie-devs: Put your controls on ‘X’ and ‘C’ instead of ‘Z’ and ‘X’, this way everyone could enjoy your game immediatly and you do not necessarily have to implement rebindable keys.

    • Cockie says:

      Be glad you don’t have azerty. I have to change key settings for every game.
      On a sidenote, os language and keyboard layout are two different things in Windows, so if you look a bit further you should be able to switch to qwerty somewhere in windows labyrinth of settings>

    • Grey Poupon says:

      It’s not the language of the OS, but keyboard layout. CTRL+Shift is a shortcut between the ones you have active and you can add new ones from the control panel. I’ve got no experience with non QWERTY keyboards but that should do the trick.

  5. Greggh says:

    Any game that is dubbed as “it’s like That-game meets Some-other-game” is not really anything of anything.

    • SillyWizard says:

      Providing context for a thing by listing other things that it borrows from is not at all what that clip is about.

      • Greggh says:

        Oh yes, because there is ALWAYS an EXACT simpsons quote for anything EVER.

        (wait, I think there actually might be).

    • Prolar Bear says:

      Absolutely agree. While the rest of the article is perfectly fine, I hate that formula.
      It’s even worse when devs\publishers market their game as “X meets Y”, because that sounds just lazy and generic.

      • SillyWizard says:

        Yes because using familiar things to shed light on unfamiliar things hasn’t been a basic building block of communication since the dawn of language.

        • Greggh says:

          Exact same reason it should be dismissed in favor of more refined literary/communication techniques.

    • Kitsunin says:

      If you think that’s a lazy way to describe a game, fine, but many of the best games out there have been called “__ meets __” we borrow and mix ideas, that’s how creativity works, so not saying that about a lot of games is just avoiding making yourself easily understood so you don’t sound “lazy” to snobs.

      • Greggh says:

        I never said it’s lazy.
        I said that if a game is dubbed like that it isn’t something on its own. It’s something of something.

        Jeez, learn to read, people! :P

        • Kitsunin says:

          And you said that something of something is nothing, implying that a game isn’t worth anything if it’s described by its similarities to other games. I used the word lazy because I was half~replying to prolar bear, but it still applies.

          Like I said, that’s not how creativity works. Everything can be, and is, described by its similarities to other things. There are no truly spontaneous ideas, everything exists via the influence of other things. Not describing a game as being like another game (etc. etc.) just to make yourself sound like you somehow are the one guy ever who didn’t base his game on another game is pointless…and kinda dishonest.

          • SillyWizard says:

            Which is why as juvenile as it sounds, “compare/contrast” can be the basic framework upon which academics hang erudite analyses of culturally significant things all the time.

    • AlwaysRight says:

      I think you will find this clip much more accurate:

      (Ps. I’m not calling Nathan “lazy journalist scum”)

  6. Turkey says:

    I remember when video games met in private behind closed doors. Now they flaunt their unions on the internet for everyone to see. What’s next? Video games having children? Meeting on speed? Disgusting!

  7. UncleLou says:

    Z to roll
    X to charge arrow, release to fire
    X to summon your arrow back to you (hold)
    If running the EXE version, F toggles fullscreen

    One day all developers will hopefully understand that there are mainly QWERTY and QWERTZ keyboards out there in the (Western) world, so putting an important function on either “Z” or “Y” is rather silly and inconsderate, in particular in a game that only uses a handful of keys in the first place. There are 34 keys at a minimum that are identical, so there really is no excuse.

    (I am aware of AZERTY, but I don’t think it’s that common.)

    • Premium User Badge

      Bluerps says:

      Thank you, I just wanted to complain about the same thing (regarding Y/Z).

      Put a finger on X. Now put another finger of the same hand on the key that is below 6 and 7 – and now imagine playing a game like that. It’s possible, of course, but it gets very uncomfortable after a while.

      • Greggh says:

        Got a gamepad?

        Several programs enable you to map keystrokes to your pad. Joy2key is a starter.
        (please don’t lash out saying “this is a PC game, I want to play with my mouse and barcode scanner ROAR” like Mr Walker always does :P )

    • Pliqu3011 says:

      Or you could just press Alt+Shift to set your keyboard layout to qwerty. Done.

      You can’t expect developers to take note of every possible keyboard a player might use (_especially_ when talking about a Ludum Dare game). Even if they made sure it would work on your specific layout, maybe it wouldn’t work on dvorak, colemak, or on a bloody Maltron or something and other people would find reasons to complain (“why is obscure keyset X supported but not mine?!”).
      I’m typing this on an azerty keyboard btw. I’ve grown a habit of always changing the settings when I first play a game, or just change layout. Sure, it’s a minor inconvenience, but not something worth complaining about IMO.

      • JFS says:

        No one’s asking for Dvorak. Would be nice, however, if videogame devs were able to remember the tens of milions of possible audience using QWERTZ.

        • Danley says:

          A lot of games do support Dvorak (seriously, a lot being a good chunk of all the games I have on steam recognizing I’m on dvorak and switching the layout automatically). Or they’ve just done some layout loading trick as I do have dvorak changed merely in Windows. It’s not like my keyboard is communicating with a different subsystem than a qwerty would.

          Moral of the story is, as some other commenters replied upthread, use the settings under Alt+Shift to map a qwerty layout for games.

      • dE says:

        The qwerty variants (including azerty or qwertz) are hardly “obscure”, don’t you think?

    • Charles de Goal says:

      AZERTY is used everywhere in France which, granted, is only 60 million people and couting!

    • MechanicalPen says:

      It really is silly; QWERTY, QWERTZ, and AZERTY all have the “S” and “D” keys in the same spot, so there is a solution. Or one could map multiple keys to the same action. The only reason this is a problem is because game devs just don’t think about it.

  8. denizsi says:

    “Its controls are grid-based”


    I think you have a fundamentally flawed understanding of what a grid is in context of gaming. The game isn’t grid based.

  9. apocraphyn says:

    Nifty little game, but nowhere near as difficult as Nathan made out. Defeated the left and right bosses first time without a problem, but the brain encased in jelly was a pain in the ass.

  10. DXN says:

    Heh. The ending is neat. Also, for a quickly-made game this does capture the feel of Shadow of the Colossus with beautiful simplicity.

  11. vivlo says:

    That end. It is… i don’t know… noticeable enough that i express here that it is noticeable, at least

  12. Dave Tosser says:

    Nathan “oh, my” Grayson strikes again. Couldn’t fit any anecdotes about your childhood into this piece, eh? Don’t worry, there’s always next time.

    • BooleanBob says:

      What purpose do you serve, Tosser? It’s okay that you hate your job. The trick is to come to terms with it, not to moan about people who don’t theirs.

  13. Ubik2000 says:

    Downloaded the exe and now I have a browser hijack virus. Awesome. Pretty sure this game isn’t worth the aggrevation I’m about to go through.

    • Danley says:

      Pretty sure many of us could fix any infection you might have gotten for you, over the Internet, for free. Merry Christmas.

      Now get an ad block browser plug in because I didn’t get anything from that and you either clicked an ad made to look like a download button, or you were already infected. Or the link on ludum got compromised and now we have to react to that.

      Seriously, pm me if your software didn’t get it already, or you think something else is still going on.

      • Ubik2000 says:

        No problems prior to getting the game. The installer seemed hugely dodgy, but I was tired and wasn’t thinking. My own fault obviously, but I’m 100% certain it’s stemming from that. May have clicked a wrong button during installation, dunno.

        Browser take over stuff. Lot of “chrome update” popups, especially when I click on a fill-in box. There was a ‘search’ tab opening in Chrome and firefox, unbidden, although I turned that off in settings. Reinstalled Chrome and Firefox to no avail. Malwarebytes full scan running now. Pain in the arse.

        • Danley says:

          (First, write down these commands:

          netsh winhttp reset proxy
          netsh winsock reset catalog

          If uninstalling any programs makes your internet stop working, open your start menu > all programs > accessories > command prompt – Right click and run as administrator then execute each command separately (type it in, press enter, repeat). You can also open the start menu, type ‘cmd’ and right-click on the cmd program that shows up in the list and Run as Administrator to get to the elevated command prompt.

          Next, hold down the windows key and press R. (You can also search for ‘Run’ in the start menu search like you did ‘cmd’.) Once the Run dialog is open, type inetcpl.cpl and press enter. Click the advanced tab > Restore advanced settings then > Reset. Check ‘Delete personal settings’ and click Reset. Even if you don’t use Internet Explorer, it can hijack the behavior of other browsers. This cleans up IE.)

          I recommend doing the netsh commands and IE reset at the end regardless, but thought I’d tell you them first since you’ll need them to repair your internet if a booby trap brings it down from uninstalling junk, which is the next step.

          If you’re not familiar with the process, start by going through your uninstall a program / Programs & Features section and uninstall any programs that were installed recently that look suspect. Uninstalling may set off a booby trap and install more junk, but you’ll remove that in a later scan if it’s the case.

          Next, open up chrome and in the address bar type chrome://plugins and disable anything sketchy. Then type chrome://extensions and delete anything sketchy with the trashcan button. If you’re unsure, just disable everything.

          In chrome://settings (the next place you’ll go) check three places:

          On Startup > Open a specific page or set of pages > Set pages – Delete any startup pages that you have not set, even if you do not use startup pages. This will prevent a hijack from moving you to your homepage to reinfect you

          Appearance > Show Home button > Change – Here as well, delete any pages you did not set.

          Search > Manage search engines – Hovering the mouse over any of the search engines will show an X at the far right. Click the X on any search engines you don’t use. This will help prevent redirects when searching.

          Rather than the above, you could always open chrome://settings, scroll to the bottom, select Show advanced settings, scroll all the way to the bottom of that and click Reset browser settings.

          Next, run a cocktail of malware and virus scans. I recommend tdskiller from Kaspersky, Hitman Pro and Malwarebytes. Do full scans on each and delete everything it finds if you don’t explicitly recognize a file you installed yourself. There’s another program called HijackThis which can show you anything sketchy going on with your hosts file, but it takes some familiarity with what should and shouldn’t be running normally. Might be worth using to acquaint yourself with your OS, though.

          Finally, download a program from Microsoft’s Technet site called autoruns. It’s quite possible the most useful utility on Windows. It was designed by the same person who made msconfig and Task Manager, Mark Russinovich. Run it as Administrator (right-click and select this option) and view a good deal of everything running on your computer and at startup. Check for anything in the first few Run sections for malware starting up. Uncheck anything that may have installed itself while you were doing this. Check services as well, though take caution not to uncheck anything you’re not sure about.

          If at any point the computer doesn’t start up properly, restart and continue hitting the f8 key (or Fn+f8 if it’s a laptop with colored hotkeys) and choose Last known good configuration. If you’re on an Asus, you may need to press f8, choose your hard drive from the boot list, and immediately start pressing f8 again.

          This should all suffice to remove any common malware that might have infected your machine. Like I said, though, if it’s worse than this I’d be happy to remove it remotely. And for free so not to dishonor RPS’s comment policy about solicitation.

        • sApuska says:

          Ditto this. Lots of “GS.Enabler”s and “surf,and track”s and “WebSearch”s added to browsers and system folders and whatnotall. I guess I should have expected something with an “.zip.exe” extension. Grrr.

  14. KDR_11k says:

    Somehow the words “X meets Dark Souls” lose their meaning when absolutely every game where it’s possible to die is described with them.

    • jrodman says:

      Well, based on the name, I think the creators were thinking it this time.

  15. Piecewise says:

    Dark souls and SOTC are two of my favorite games.

    This game is…not good. Oh sure it sort of apes team ico’s signature style, and it’s “Hard” like dark souls, I suppose, but for all the wrong reasons.

    The whole “Walk back to the boss” thing is tedious with nothing to do or challenge you along the way; made worse by the fact that it’s only a 3-5 second walk. Why even have it then? SOTC didn’t have that. Dark souls had stuff to do and it was long enough that it was actually a penalty, not a fiddly nuisance.

    The bosses are pretty uninspired as well. And considering the amazing bosses of both SOTC and Dark souls, having a bland “Shoot flashing weak point win game” boss for each one is a huge let down. You can make them look vaguely SOTC like, that doesn’t make them good.

    Really, this is just a bland, generic indie game with somewhat pretty graphics, mostly because the style was stolen from another game.

    You disappoint yet again RPS.

    • grom.5 says:

      Piecewise : I think you’re quite harsh with this game. I mean, it was made in a JAM. It was made by 3 peoples (one for the code, one for the art and one for the music) in only one week end.

      The music is fantastic, the art style is simple and yet, i really got the shadow of colossus feeling of desolation. The bosses were okay, not too difficult, but not too easy. The walk down is a bit tedious but come on. In dark souls I fought Gwen something like 60 times and each times I needed to do the walking. This one is a walk in the wood in comparison. The arrow mechanic is nice and it4s the first time I saw something like this (For me, I was pondering for each shot were the arrow will bounce and if I could get it in a safe ways)

      The end is also… interesting and that what makes everything great for me.

      So. I know everyone has his own taste, but I think you are a bit too harsh with it. (Maybe because you are a fan of DS and SOTC like myself, so you were reluctant to find X meet Y or too high expectations ? Dunno)

      My only complain is it too short. But I didn’t expect anything and I got a nice moment for free.

    • Niko says:

      You do realize the essential difference between an indie game made over a weekend and a large-scale commercial project, right?..