Funk of Titans (Xbox One) review
- Graphically varies from "good" to "strikingly good", even if it isn't especially next-gen
- Fun while it lasts...
Not So Much?
- ... but doesn't last long.
- Core auto-running game mechanic leaves you feeling like you're not in control
- Repetition in music and in animated scenes
- Replayability is there but limited
The bottom line has to be “is it fun?” And Funk of Titans is, while it lasts – though it’s the fastest 1000 gamerscore I’ve personally managed. But while the game encourages levels to be replayed, once the challenges are complete running them does not seem worthwhile afterwards.
In Greek mythology, Perseus may have been a demi-god, but I’m mostly certain he wasn’t a disco-dancing, funk-loving one. However, this is how developer A Crowd of Monsters have presented him in Funk of Titans.
Perseus’ task is to defeat the three music Titans – a Lady Gaga-esque Medusa representing pop, a Latin rapping Cyclops, and heavy rock loving Centaur. Reaching them involves making through their respective worlds, each with just over a dozen platforming levels to clear.
And let’s pause here to clear something up. Funk of Titans is presented as a platformer, but is actually an auto-runner. While the game does consist of running and jumping, Perseus automatically heads in the direction he needs to go; as a player your involvement is entirely down to timing jumps or attacks against the grooving enemies on route.
It’s a strange feeling, almost like being a passenger. Whereas in a platform game you normally expect positioning to be key, here positioning is handled for you… But while you’d expect this to mean the game is an extremely linear experience – which for a lot of the time it is – the level designers have managed to sneak in some semi-secret areas to access.
Each level is rated on three categories. The first is to not take damage – bumping an enemy or dangerous obstacle once is not fatal, but Perseus loses his clothing and has to continue in his briefs, in a style very reminiscent of Arthur in Ghosts n Goblins.
The second category is to collect 100 discs of golden vinyl; each level has exactly 100, and while this does leave you wondering just how large Perseus’ record collection is, it also means there is a “perfect” route through the levels to get them all, and once you’ve found that there is no further improvement you can make.
The final category is getting a Pegasus idol, unlocking a bonus stage when you finish the current one. These idols are sometimes obvious, sometimes slightly off route, and sometimes locked behind doors that can only be opened with certain weapons, bought between levels in exchange for some records. The bonus stage itself involves riding a rocket powered hobby horse through a surreal landscape – giant cupcakes, MP3 players, cutlery, burgers; and so on – which only gains height when you hold the button (shown by Perseus flapping his arms)… Thanks to a one-hit death these stages can be challenging, more so that their layouts seem to be randomised and so rarely feel balanced.
Each world also has two fights – one with a sub-boss and one with the titan. Both are handled as (relatively forgiving) QTEs, the Grunt sub-boss being an arena match and the final boss being a dance off. Disappointingly, the Grunt fights are all visually identical – all three worlds use exactly the same animation. For the face-off with the Titans, however, while having dashes of the other musical styles kick in is a nice touch, the QTE has nothing to do with the music, and you’ll just finding yourself pressing buttons as they appear but detached from the events on screen.
Actually, while we’re mentioning music, for a game focused on music you will find yourself hearing the same level themes a lot of times. Like, a lot. Between the 40 or so platforming levels plus the number of times you’ll rerun them to get perfect scores or having failed and restarted, the handful of background tunes will come around a lot of times. And while they are mercifully not too grating, they don’t stand out either.
Perhaps the strongest presentation the game has is graphically; while not testing the Xbox One limits in any way, the characters are bright and bold, the environments are mostly attractive, and some levels play with lighting to present day, dusk and night – and the silhouetted stages against a setting sun are actually strikingly good.
Perhaps the bottom line has to be “is it fun?” And it is, while it lasts. It’s the fastest 1000 gamerscore I’ve personally managed, clearing the whole thing in around five hours. And those were five fun hours, with the “… just one more go” mentality kicking in to improve runs. But while the game encourages levels to be replayed, once the carrot-on-a-stick of completing all three challenges is gone running them does not seem worthwhile afterwards.