The Problem with Titan Souls

What is Titan Souls?

It's a action-adventure boss rush game. It takes one hit to die but also usually one hit to kill a boss. You have one arrow and when you misfire you need to go regather it to try again. Boss fights are varied and interesting. The game should be great but as the game went on fights got harder a particular issue stood out more and more.



The Problem?

It's very simple...the respawns.

It's a game where one hit means death. Wen you die it puts you back to a checkpoint then you need to walk all the way back to the boss arena to try again. This is usually not a problem but the one hit death means you will die quite a bit and take one minute of real time to trek back to the boss. One minute may not seem like a long time but sometimes may spending more time walking back to the boss than you do fighting the boss...that is a bad sign. It is frustrating and demotivating. It's why I stopped playing it. I got about 7-9 bosses through it before giving up. Instead of me wanting to go back and try again I didn't want to due the effort just to get back to the boss. The one in particular that broke it for me was one where you had to solve a puzzle to get to the boss. You needed to go down the correct path across multiple screens. Go down the wrong path and you are back at the start. Fine the first time but if you don't do the boss fight in one try you had to the remember the same combination of paths. That got very annoying the 3rd or 4th time around.

The Solution

Look at other games that have a one hit death system. The prime example is Super Meat Boy. Once you die you instantly respawn, no time to think about failure just straight back into the next try. Imagine having to play a one minute mini game before you could have another go at the level. No one would play it.

So if you apply the same thing to Titan Souls and have the player character come back to life at the very start of the boss fight. No wasted time getting back to the challenge, no time to think about past failure, just straight back in. You can include an option to retry or go back to the checkpoint. I would never have stopped playing.

The game tries to push exploration and some puzzles the player needs to solve to get to the boss fights but it just detracts from the core appeal of the game. Almost feels like padding. Since the boss fights can be quick depending on skill they probably needed the game to have a longer playtime and more varied thing for the player to do. For me it detracts from the core of the game and would not include the other stuff or keep it and have the option retry a boss there and then on death. Boss rush games can work on there own without anything else going on just take Fury for example.

There design choice may be a technical issue I do not know. All we can do is learn from this and make better games as a result.