I got an email telling me I had a review copy for Funk of Titans, an independent game for Xbox One. It was pitched as a platformer set in the funky world of Olympus, where Perseus, Zeus’s son, needs to fight against the evil powers of pop, rap, and rock music, and bring the funk back. Does that make sense? No? Well, there’s a lot of mismatched themes in Funk of Titans. Heck, it’s not actually a real platformer! But that last point is the most interesting part of Funk of Titans, and ultimately saves the game from complete obscurity.
What Funk The
Normally I start a review talking about the gameplay and what you can expect when you pick up the controller. However, I have to start here with the first thing I saw when I started Funk of Titans. It wasn’t, “Press the A button.” It was, “Press the button A.” Uh oh. That was actually a sign at the time, but I didn’t realize it.
Funk of Titans is about Perseus, the funky son of Zeus who looks like Samuel L Jackson, who has to rescue the funky land of Mount Olympus from the tyrannies of Pop, Rap, and Rock Music. It’s very hard to explain, to put it into words, but I will try. Imagine if a bunch of developers from an Eastern European country watched a bunch of 70’s blacksploitation films, and decided to make a theme about it. Imagine that they kind of missed the nuance that these films have, along with modern connotations and the luxury of hindsight. Now imagine their grasp of English is… “pretty good.” This is the presentation of Funk of Titans. Quite frankly it’s racist without meaning to be, and the dialogue is like English translated to something else and translated back to English. For all its talk about having a funky theme, it’s just superficial. Probably the biggest loss is that the music in this game is pretty uninspired. The music isn’t that funky. Not only that, the Pop, Rap, and Rock worlds don’t have anything to do with Pop, Rap, or Rock. There’s no musical influence from those genres ever. This was the easiest gimme this game had and it didn’t take it.
However the bonus levels are decorated with alarm clocks and bacon. Now THAT takes something special.
Though it is touted as a platformer, Funk of Titans is a free runner. If you’ve played Bit.Trip.Runner, you’ll understand what I mean. Perseus runs in a direction. You cannot control his speed. If you press X, you’ll use his sword to attack what’s in front of him. If you press A, you’ll jump, letting your momentum carry you. That’s it for the controls, except pressing the analog stick in any direction will let you say some inane chatter like “Shaba laba!”
Your goal in each level is simply to get to the end. You’ll have to jump over pits of spikes and fire, and slash through enemy gladiators to do so. There’s 100 golden vinyl records to collect in each level, along with a special Pegasus horse that if found, unlocks a bonus round. The Pegasus bonus level is whatever, but I have to say, the level design is actually well done. At first, it’s simple. The collectible golden vinyls litter the best possible path to follow. While at first you’ll simply have to react to dangers at a reasonable time, you’ll have to react faster and faster as you’ll be sliding down slopes, and on the lookout for more and more traps. The game will introduce more and more mechanics, such as wall jumps, and springs, without ever showing you a tutorial. Are you used to jumping on enemies to defeat them, and then getting a boost to paths above? Well hopefully you can see that guy has spikes on his head and not to jump on his head. It’s refreshing to not see a pop-up that says “HE HAS SPIKES ON HIS HEAD WATCH OUT GUY.” If there’s one thing I don’t like, it’s that the light sources really wash out the picture of the game, and it can be hard to see things.
Later on, you’ll get the opportunity to take alternate paths if you pay attention and use the environment creatively. These paths might lead you to more collectible vinyls or the Pegasus horse. Although sometimes, this horse will be behind some kind of gate that you’ll need a specific weapon to unlock. See, those vinyls you’ve been collecting are also currency that can be used to buy new weapons or headgear for Perseus. The purpose of all the different weapons, unfortunately, is to unlock these different gates. If you’re not trying to 100% this game, this is totally pointless. As it stands, it’s pretty annoying.
Rhythmless QTE Battles
A couple times in each world, you’ll have to do battle. These scenes happen by way of you pressing X, Y, A, or B as soon as the button flashes on the screen. That’s it. It’s uninspired and dumb. You don’t do it very often though. Okay, that’s the end of this section.
The presentation of this game is lacking and uncomfortably kind of racist in an unintentional and non-threatening way. It has an awesome musical setting that it just doesn’t take advantage of. As much as that may be the case, Funk of Titans is actually kind of fun, with very smart level design and pacing. If you can get past the ridiculously uneven outer layer, you might enjoy the creamy center.
Ted played through the entirety of World 1 and partially through World 2. He was given review code by the publisher.
Available on: Xbox One
Version Reviewed: Xbox One