Titan Souls was one of my favorite games at PAXAus this year, masking a punishing difficulty curve with deceptively simple gameplay mechanics. The demo I played at PAX had your hero starting out in temple ruins, approaching massive doors, to enter even larger chambers, and fighting monsters many times your size. You also only have one arrow and taking a single hit kills you, sending you back to the beginning of the fight. Did I mention that the difficulty curve is pretty high? While mashing the controller in a futile attempt to beat the game, like an orangutan beating a rubix cube into submission, I spoke to developer Andrew Gleeson about the game.
So where did you guys get the idea for Titan Souls?
Andrew: It was originally a Game Jam game that we made back in December last year and the theme was “You only get one.” So we figured “Okay, you’ll only have one arrow, you only have one HP and all the bosses that you fight only have one HP as well.” So obviously, this full game that we’re showing here at PAX is a full version of our original prototype that we made for the Jam.
So the idea of only having boss fights, did you want it to be the sort of game that had an epic difficulty level?
Andrew: Absolutely, originally we were inspired by things like Shadow of the Colossus and Dark Souls, we really wanted to have it feel like a really rewarding experience when you kill an enemy after five, ten or twenty deaths. Or fifty, a hundred… whatever..
So was the pixel style graphics born from the fact that the original prototype was made for a Game Jam and you needed it to be simple?
Andrew: Well, I usually do pixel art and for the Game Jam it’s definitely the fastest way to make something – but I also made it pixel art because, well, I do pixel art.
So it’s not just yourself working on this project?
Andrew: Yep, there’s a team of us, three people – myself, the artist; our programmer, Mark Forster, and; our music and sound guy, David Fenn – they’re both from the UK.
What can players expect in the full version?
Andrew: Players can expect twenty Titans for the full game, as well as an expansive overworld that they can explore that house the Titans which players will have to hunt down.
So where did you guys get the inspiration for the Titans specifically?
Andrew: For this first area, in the lore – there’s an actual guardian keeping watch of the secrets behind the big door you can see in the first area. So the first three bosses are a heart, a brain and an eye, and the fourth is a colossal guardian guy that has those things missing – it’s basically a mystery of what’s happening in the world to make it more intersting for players.
Is the story meant to be obvious, or background?
Andrew: No, the story falls to the back side, it’s not very obvious – it’s for people who are interested in that sort of thing, to work out their own kind of narrative as to why they’re there and what they’re doing.
The game is pretty hard, I died a heap of times just trying to take down a single boss – has anyone even beaten the demo at PAXAus?
Andrew: We’ve had about four people yesterday complete the whole demo – that’s pretty impressive. That’s actually pretty standard, we had the same sort of success ratio at PAX Prime.
So what are you guys hoping to get out of PAXAus with the demo here?
Andrew: We really just want to get the name out there and show it to people who’ve not seen or heard of it before, it’s mostly for them. As an indie, you want to get anything you can basically – and being able to show it off at shows is really cool. We sometimes make small tweaks and changes too, based on feedback.
What was the biggest challenge in getting Titan Souls off the ground?
Andrew: We’ve had a fairly smooth time of things. We first showed off the game at E3 at the Sony press conference, and we’ve just been spending about ten months straight focusing on making the game, so for us it’s been pretty easy.
Titan Souls is set for release in Q1 of next year on Playstation 4 and Steam. For more information about the game you can check out the Devolver Digital page, and to learn more about developers Acid Nerve you can check out their site here.