It is time for another retro styled action platformer, if only as we haven’t seen one for all of five minutes.
This time it is a game called Titanium Hound, coming from developers Red Spot Sylphina and published by OverGamez. Now, this isn’t a game about a metal dog, as you may expect from the title, but instead about a giant robot that is tasked with stomping about and shooting stuff. So far, so usual, right? Well, is it? We’re strapping on our giant metal boots to find out.
There is a story to all this mayhem, and while it isn’t going to be BAFTA nominated, it is nice to have one. Apparently, the near future is not a place where you want to be, at least according to the narrative in Titanium Hound. See, a bacteria has been developed that can be used to generate power, and teleportation technology allows this bacteria to multiply and mutate living things to turn them into living batteries. This was quickly made illegal, as teleportation made these creatures not only power generators, but horribly mutated too.
To be honest, the story really doesn’t make any sense, as you can probably tell by the way I’m struggling to describe it, but the long and the short of it is that only inorganic things can be teleported, and so the Titanium Hound – of the title – is a kind of remote controlled walking tank. We have to use it to bring peace to the world by taking out the trash.
We’ve seen that the story is nonsense, but what about the presentation of Titanium Hound? This is a classic side-scrolling platformer, with graphics that are a throwback to the Super Nintendo era. The sprites of both the Hound and of the enemies are fairly small, and while they are pretty detailed, there is nothing groundbreaking here. The sound is actually a highlight though, as the music that plays throughout the game is very good indeed, driving the action along and spurring you on to do better. Helpfully, the various enemies and shooting effects are also pretty good too. All in all, I’d say a passing mark for Titanium Hound so far.
But then we get on to how the game plays out and it’s here where we discover that there are two basic elements to the game: the combat and the traversal, as is so often the case. We will look at the combat side of things first, as this has a few good ideas.
You see, the Titanium Hound can fire in a whole three directions – up a bit, straight ahead, or down a bit, and that is about it. It is hard to do, certainly as the controls aren’t awfully sharp, but it just about works. There are also different fire modes that can be used, and these add a bit of variety. The cameras that you see on the levels have to be disabled by an EMP, which is fired by using the left trigger, and while it is almost impossible to hit the cameras, when you do manage it, it is effective. If you miss the shot, however, these cameras will summon combat drones, so try your best, eh?
Things get a bit more interesting when you decide to use the Hound’s main cannon; when you need to bring justice to the naughty hordes of enemies. There are two bars on your HUD, one of which is your weapon power, and the other being a shield meter. As one is used, the other is charged, so basically, you can shoot for a while until your weapon power is depleted, and when it is, if you put up the shield for a while, the weapon will get power back. Of course, the shield can also be used offensively, as if you put it up while you are moving, then you can dash into enemies and damage them. This balancing act between offensive and defensive manoeuvres is pretty good fun, to be honest, and it is a nice little twist to what would otherwise be a fairly vanilla game.
The thing is, getting around the world, making the most of platforming elements, is all a bit ropey. The jumping is incredibly imprecise, and while some may think that giant metal bipeds are not really made for jumping (and they’d be right), we are mostly tasked with jumping about like a gazelle; getting the Hound to jump where you want it to go is very tricky indeed. It isn’t helped that in certain areas the place that you are meant to jump to is hidden until you actually arrive in the vicinity, and so you don’t even have a target to aim at. This introduces a lot of frustration and doesn’t work very well at all.
As you go through the levels, leaping like an elephant, there are things to find and pick up too, which allow you to craft items as you go. These are usually stored in boxes that can be shot down, and there is even an achievement for squishing enemies by knocking one of these boxes down onto them. Crafting bits and bobs, like explosives, is a pretty neat idea, and these can be used to help you progress through the game.
Both the combat and crafting are pretty good in Titanium Hound, but navigation through the levels is the opposite – and that means this is a pretty middle of the road game. It does have some good ideas, but it has some dodgy implementation, and so the advice is this – if you like a shooty platformer, try it by all means, but the platforming bits are very frustrating.
Titanium Hound is on the Xbox Store
- The story – a rubbish one, but still…
- Good combat ideas
- Bad platforming sections
- Massive thanks for the free copy of the game go to – OverGamez
- Formats – Xbox Series X|S, Xbox One, PS4, PS5, Switch, PC
- Version reviewed – Xbox One on Xbox Series X
- Release date – 10 March 2023
- Launch price from – £12.49