Funk of Titans is an oddity of a game in several ways. From its wacky premise — which mixes the world of Greek mythology with themes based on modern music — to how it’s actually played and presented, it’s not the kind of game most would expect to see debut on the Xbox One. Even when you ignore that aspect, the base game is too routine and repetitive to give an enthusiastic recommendation, though it still ends up being half-decent when all is said and done.
There’s technically a story within Funk of Titans, but it’s devoid of a proper intro and spoken dialogue. Three different worlds based around pop, rap, and rock have been taken over by musical titans, and Zeus sends the warrior Perseus to defeat them all and liberate the land. That’s all you get, and it’s immediately obvious when playing this game that plot and context are low on its priority list. As such, it’d be better to move on to its gameplay.
Though looking at screenshots and trailers might lead one to assume Funk of Titans is a conventional side-scrolling action platformer, the reality is that it’s an auto-runner, meaning that Perseus perpetually moves forward regardless of your input, and the only direct controls you have are the abilities to make him swing his melee weapon and jump.
While most of Perseus’ movement is automatic, what is left to the player still feels like it could have used some fine-tuning. Wall jumps can feel a bit off in terms of physics, and Perseus slows down a bit when attacking, which can lead to some frustrating missed jumps when he hasn’t regained all of his momentum.
Other than reaching the end, the primary goals for each level also include obtaining three individual medals. One is obtained by making it to the end without a scratch (Perseus can take two hits before death), the second is rewarded for finding a hidden Pegasus item that also unlocks a bonus level similar to the Rocket Barrel levels from the Donkey Kong Country games, and the third is for picking up all 100 records strewn throughout the level. That said, there’s little in the way of rewards for these outside of some achievements for completionists.
The records collected throughout each level are also stored as in-game currency, which can then be spent to unlock alternate head accessories and weapons for Perseus. The head items only serve as cosmetic goodies and pop culture references, giving players the ability to look like Jason Voorhees, a stormtrooper, or even Optimus Prime. Weapons are slightly more important, though, as while they don’t alter the gameplay as far as their primary melee purpose goes, certain hidden paths can only be accessed when wielding a specific weapon, adding a little bit of replay value.
Funk of Titans‘ gameplay primarily sticks to its basic auto-runner format, and the only parts that really differ are its boss battles. However, rather than sticking with platformer mechanics, these battles are essentially glorified quick-time events, with the player having to quickly press one of the four main face buttons based on on-screen prompts.
Those encounters could have been fun, but their execution comes off as half-baked, especially since, for a game with music-based aesthetics, there’s no aspect that actually relies on rhythm or timing. Not only does this result in the boss battles being dull, but since the main levels are preset and not randomized like many auto-runners, I can’t help but wish that the developers had gone the Bit.Trip Runner route and tried adding a psuedo-rhythm element to the timing of the protagonist’s jumps and attacks. It would certainly have helped the game stand out a little more.
In terms of presentation, A Crowd of Monsters’ latest effort has some vibrant colors and decent-looking level backgrounds, but the level of detail in its character models is more resemblant of an Xbox 360 game than anything else. Additionally, for a game with “Funk” in its title, the included music is far from noteworthy, which is disappointing to say the least. Going further, I should also mention that I did experience a glitch in one of the Pegasus bonus levels, where upon crashing and dying, the game did nothing but show a prompt to return to the overworld. Pressing the controller’s Guide button to go to the Xbox One dashboard and then returning to the game did get a prompt to appear, though.
For all the complaints I’ve levelled against this game, it’s still not an utter disaster. While the boss fights are duds, the main auto-running levels have some occasional inspired moments and layouts, and the inclusion of persistent in-game missions helps mix things up and prevent monotony from setting in.
Still, there’s not much to Funk of Titans. After my first play session, I realized that this is a game that could be ported to smartphones very easily, and would probably be better received on those devices. The final product has some fun moments, but its gameplay ends up routine, its presentation lacks pizazz, and there’s no real hook to draw players in. If you enjoy auto-running games and like the idea of playing one on Microsoft’s latest console, it might be worth a look, but the general public should wait for a price drop.
This review is based on the Xbox One exclusive, which we were provided with.
Funk of Titans has its moments, but occasional control issues and a lack of innovation keep it from being anything noteworthy.