As a boss rush game, what distinguishes Titan Souls is that it is a one-hit boss rush game—for both you and the bosses. The encounters play out like puzzles; impressively hefty three-dimensional creatures dominate their arenas as they throw their weight around, often leading you to scramble and panic before you've figured out how to manage them, and you will die many times in your effort to learn how to fight and defeat each of these well-patterned foes.
And you must learn, for there is nothing save your own skill and strategy that can help you. This elegant design refreshingly eschews the bloat that is prevalent among modern games; you will find no fodder enemies, equipment upgrades, or level ups here. Some reviewers have opined that Titan Souls therefore lacks "progression"; that, somehow, more game is an insufficient reward for overcoming a challenge. These people secretly hate video games.
Despite its simple concept, it would be unfair to portray Titan Souls as merely a series of boss rooms. There is a world here stretched between them, beautifully laid out and lushly drawn and animated so as to provide a sense of place which meaningfully contextualizes your experience of searching out the slumbering titans in their secluded dens. It is a world with secrets, too. Several titans have hidden themselves well, and during your hunt you may stumble across routes which are obscured by the game's overhead perspective.
For those who pay close enough attention, murals carved into the walls of cave passages tell a backstory together with environmental detail and even the locations of the titans themselves—a story that cannot be fully grasped until a second playthrough after receiving the true ending, which translates enemy descriptions. Even before you have that information, however, there are still some surprising titan encounters with thematic implications—enough to plant that seed of familiar dread in your stomach and start you wondering whether this quest you are on is a noble one at all.
Completing the game for the first time and getting the true ending took me about 3 hours, and I spent 8 more refining my speedrun. Beyond that, there are additional modes for a harder new game+ difficulty, a one-life iron man run, and a restriction on rolling and running that requires you to completely change your tactics and gain an even better understanding of these boss fights. For those who are willing to patiently replay Titan Souls and master its myriad challenges on the game's own terms, I certainly do recommend it.
If you decide to make the purchase, consider paying a little extra for the deluxe edition as the soundtrack is quite lovely and easily worth the additional cost. Sometimes the guitar and flute pieces that play as I walk through the forests and among the ruins remind me of Child of Light; they share that wistful melancholy. Try Forest Songs for a sample.
This review can also be viewed and rated on Steam.