Review: Funk of Titans

From the moment it was first announced, Funk of Titans looked like an interesting little game. In theory, it combined funk with a platforming base and sprinkled in some action. In execution, what you wind up with is a runner that is more action-heavy than most. As the funkified son of Zeus, you’ll run through a variety of environments and kill tons of baddies along the way. Platforming is a large part of the action as well since you have to bop on some heads, avoid the ones with spikes on them, and learn when to attack and when to jump.

Sometimes, you’ll want to take a risk and jump on a head immediately after a sword slash-only kill to find a separate path through the level. This path can unlock more enemies allowing you to get more in-game rewards and level up faster, or it can unlock a pegasus token for the bonus stage. The mix of combat and platforming is largely well-done and it’s always fun to destroy vases for vinyl records, or nail a jump perfectly and get a ton of them at once to spend at the in-game store. The increased emphasis on exploration helps this stand out from other runners on the market as do all of the unlockables and QTE sections.

Boss battles are featured at the end of one of the three sets of levels, with identical mid-boss battles that honestly serve no purpose beyond teaching you QTE basics. Why every battle is the same is beyond me as it just makes the mid-bosses seem like filler. The boss battles themselves are three round affairs pitting you against a silly character representing an opposing genre of music and while the setup seems like it will be a DDR-esque rhythm game, you just get yet another QTE. The upside to this is that if you’re bad at rhythm games, you can still do really well and this uses the 360-style button prompts resulting in really bright buttons that are very easy to see.

The core gameplay is reasonably well-done with a variety of bounce pads, double jumps, and platforming and combat sections mixed in. The control layout of A jumping and X attacking works very well too. The controls are responsive and if you take a hit, it will be your own fault. Oddly enough, death may not be. You can take two hits, but you’ll frequently find yourself in situations where taking one hit immediately either sends you into a pit or into another hit. So let’s say you’re tearing through a level and have this amazing run, but jump when you wanted to attack. You’ll hit a spiked enemy and then generally bounce into another one. Normally, with checkpoints all over like in Runner 2, that’s not an issue. However, this game lacks checkpoints.

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As someone’s played a ton of endless runners over the past few years from either the Bit Trip series or just trying some out on the OUYA, I can’t recall one that lacked checkpoints. While the genre is made for replayability and this game keeps that going with all the unlockable items and weapons, you’ll find yourself playing stages far more than you’d like to just because there aren’t checkpoints. It’s not all bad though as the stages aren’t terribly long, but it is a frustrating issue and one that simply shouldn’t be there. Fortunately, this issue doesn’t cripple the game and perhaps it can be updated down the line to fix the problem.

One area that won’t need any work is the graphics. While they’re not pushing the Xbox One, they also don’t feel like Xbox 360 games thrown onto the platform like LocoCycle and Max and the Magic Marker. There are no smeared textures and the environments all have a clean look even if some things, like a bridge that is far too angular when it should be rounded, do stick out as negatives. The real-time lighting is impressive and jumping and attack animations are smooth.

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Environment variety is lacking throughout, with a general pattern of a tree-filled stage, a night-time stage with impressive lightning effects, silhouette stages, snow-filled levels, a stage caked in sunlight and the same pegasus bonus stage should be either find the pegasus idol or spend your in-game currency to go through the stage at your leisure. Weapon variety is nice in theory, but makes no real difference beyond certain weapons unlocking a stage’s pegasus idol for you to collect. It’s fun to race through a level with Darth Vader’s helmet and a light saber, but it’s a shame there aren’t full outfits to buy to really complete the look they’re going for with the parody items.

Despite each set of stages being named after a set of stages, and having a boss representing that genre, the music is strictly funk. That’s not really a bad thing because the included music is quite good, but it does seem like a wasted opportunity. Every song is fun to hear in the game but isn’t something you’ll probably want in your regular rotation. There are also built-in chances for some voice acting with small character interactions on the overworld that don’t really amount to anything. You just meet someone and get some extra vinyls and that’s it. The sections have a couple of sentences in word balloons and that’s it — why not do a bit of voice acting to help get the characters across?

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Closing Comments:

Funk of Titans is one of the better endless runners out there. While it might seem like an odd choice for an Xbox One game, the button mapping is perfect and the bright button prompts make the QTE boss battles easier to take part in. There’s isn’t a lot of depth here, but combining sword slashing with head-bopping and wall jumping works well. It controls smoothly, and other than the lack of checkpoints and some cheap deaths, it’s fun from beginning to end. It looks good for its genre and has an enjoyable soundtrack, even if it isn’t the most memorable. Those in the mood for a fast-paced experience that won’t require a massive investment of time for a play session should give Funk of Titans a shot.