Yes, you read that title right, and yes, it’s really cool.
Titan Souls is the overall winner from the most recent Ludum Dare competition, and I think it’s absolutely deserving of all the attention it’s been getting. This bite sized epic takes the best of some of the most well regarded series, and elegantly weaves them together to make something special. It takes the idea of a “boss battle game” from Shadow of the Colossus, the difficulty and feeling of victory from Dark Souls, and the puzzle design and 2D feel of a Zelda game, and I would eat this up if there were any more of it.
There are 4 bosses you have to take down, all placed in different corners of an open world. You die in one hit, the bosses can only take one hit, and you only have one arrow to defeat them with. It distills the combat of these games into something very streamlined and works surprisingly well. In a Zelda game, you have to solve how to fight the enemy and slice away until they’re dead; here you solve the puzzle and execute one well timed attack to bring them down. The fights force you to roll and dodge attacks as fast as possible, because even more so than Dark Souls, taking damage will spell the end of you.
The journey to each boss only takes about 20 or 30 seconds, but you’re forced to take the trek each time you die. Some will find this frustrating, but it’s meant to evoke the feeling of “bonfire runs” in Dark Souls. Boss fights feel more punishing when you lose, and substantially more rewarding when you win, because it isn’t as easy as respawning at their door over and over until you get a lucky break.
The developer, Mark Foster, has a lengthy write-up about the game on his site here, and explains his motivations and where he wants to take it in the future. He wants to turn it into a “full experience” with more bosses and a more fleshed out narrative, and I’m anxiously awaiting the day that happens.