Funk of Titans is a tough game to describe, but we're going to give it a go.
The ancient Greek god of the sky and thunder, Zeus, has tasked you, Perseus, with defeating the ancient Music Titans of Pop, Rap, and Rock, using your own brand of "Funk-fu." To do this, you must auto-run and jump through a series of levels, collecting gold vinyl records as you go. Along the way, a very timid (and out of shape) version of Hercules shows up in his "I'm #1, So Why Try Harder?" t-shirt to converse with you. If you're lucky enough to find the Pegasus Idol statue that's hidden in each of the game's 40+ levels, you can ride a flying Pegasus to collect more gold vinyls in a bonus stage, with those records being used to buy costumes such as top hats, or weapons such as boom-boxes to smash people over the head with.
Sound crazy? Well, the premise is.
In fact, it sounds like the starting point for a truly superb and off-the-wall game that will be remembered by anybody who plays it. The reality though, is that it's only a partially cooked meal of pasta and insanity.
The game is an auto-runner, so the only thing you need to do is time your jumps and hit enemies when required. You'll be given a choice of paths in most levels, and a slightly later jump here or hitting a switch there will cause your fate to change, meaning that you can open up hidden sections, collect more vinyls, or take a shortcut. There are no checkpoints in levels, since they're all quite short, but you can absorb one hit before you're forced to restart. Funk of Titans undoubtedly controls well and ticks all of the most basic of boxes. Unfortunately, there are a lot of issues to take into account. Firstly, the difficulty level is practically non-existent. Even the most limited of players will be able to see everything the game has to offer within just a couple of hours. Both mid-world and final bosses are battled using nothing but very, very simplistic quicktime events – so simplistic in fact, that we defeated all six of them without missing a single button press. Yes, even the Rock Titan at the very end of the game was beaten with a perfect score on the first attempt. Somewhat shamefully, all three main bosses require incredibly similar – if not identical – lists of buttons to be pressed, with the same layout and timing, in order for you to beat them.
The game is incredibly shallow and quite clearly set out to entice you into playing through levels multiple times, with the underlying goal being to collect all three medals in each of them. You get one for completing the level without taking damage and another for picking up 100 records, both of which are relatively easy to accomplish. A final medal for picking up the bonus Pegasus statue is a little more taxing as, due to the nature of the game, you don't have a lot of time to look around. If you don't jump at the exact point that you need to in order to be led off along the path that leads to the Pegasus, you just won't find it. This means that there is some replayability to be had, but a spanner is thrown into the works when you find that certain Pegasus statues are hidden behind certain types of doors that you simply cannot open unless you have the correct weapon type equipped. It isn't a major chore to exit, select the right weapon, and play through again to get the statue, but the type of weapon you need isn't indicated anywhere until you get to the door itself. Collecting the Pegasus does unlock a bonus level though, as we've mentioned, but it's nothing more than a take on Flappy Bird. Hold the A button to fly higher and collect more gold vinyls, and try not to hit anything. Thrilling.
If your blood pressure is still on the good side of high, how about working out why you can unlock split pathways in the world map that allow you to jump five levels ahead, only to find that when you've beaten two or three more levels, you have to come back to beat the earlier ones that you skipped in order to progress? Or how about the fact that in order to improve your "Hero Level" (which in turn unlocks new weapons and outfits) you're sometimes asked to actually fail or take damage in order to beat an item on the level up checklist? This one means that a perfect run through of the game isn't actually possible, as you aren't able to unlock the right weapon to collect the Pegasus medal in certain levels without raising your Hero Level by taking damage, and you can only get three medals in a run if you don't take any damage. It's this sort of lack of thought that really brings the game down.
These issues are topped up by the fact that the game never seems to run all that smoothly, with the in-level action feeling like it is constantly fighting a battle to keep the framerate up, while trying to ward off graphical glitches.
But the biggest and most confusing issue on show, is how remarkably normal Funk of Titans is. With a story like the one we opened this review with in tow, you'd expect the entire game to be over-the-top, crazy, music-based fun that burns itself into your consciousness and never lets go. However, the final product is a basic auto-runner featuring a guy with an afro running through three worlds that are effectively all the same, barring a different colour palette. There's also barely anything to do with music here, either. You collect gold records, an Aretha Franklin-alike character shows up to talk to you in text, and the bosses are named after genres of music. But that's it. The background music in each world doesn't even change to suit the style of the boss that you're attempting to reach. Given that the speed of the character's progress is controlled by the game itself, there are a whole bunch of game mechanics that could have been employed to bring the music to the fore, but it just never happens here.
In spite of all the listed problems, Funk of Titans does occasionally provide bursts of fun. They usually turn up when you do something particularly smoothly in the game itself, like jumping from wall-to-wall three or four times and then leaping perfectly onto an enemy's head so that you're propelled onto a bounce pad that zooms you through a large portion of a level. We doubt you'll be smiling for all that long, though.
Funk of Titans feels like a game that would be perfectly at home on a mobile device, which isn't surprising given that this is the studio's first console title. That isn't to downplay the importance of mobile gaming, or to overlook the great strides that mobile games are taking of late. Rather, it's to declare that this is an overly-simplistic and undercooked game that isn't what you'd expect from a console title at this price point. This is far from an unplayably awful game, but there's very, very little depth here, and what is presented is incredibly repetitive to say the least.