I got to look at the self-published indie title Titanium Hound created by Red Spot Sylphina. A 2D action platformer with cyberpunk style pixel art released back in October 2022 for; Switch, PlayStation, Xbox, and the platform I played on Steam. You can grab this for £11.39 or on sale for £5.69 from the Steam store.
A different take on Robocop
I was surprised to see this game go under everyone’s radar as I couldn’t find many gameplay videos on the whole game. The visuals look great, and the story seemed promising. I don’t play a lot of 2D platformers, but I love the idea of being able to be a Police Officer and taking down criminals in a giant mech.
Players will play as Grace Alarie, a Special Police Force Officer who’s pulled into a conspiracy involving the government and creatures known as Abominations. Grace pilots the Titanium Hound, a highly advanced exoskeleton that will protect and allow her to dash at insane speeds. Abominations are the result of large organic beings sent through a teleportation device. These are one of the main factions’ enemies Grace will fight alongside the criminals she encounters.
Players can fire weapons forward, up or down diagonally. There is no way to fire from behind unless facing that way. You can move while shields are activated and will perform a melee attack that stuns when dashing at an enemy when they are in use. Players will need to perform a combo blast to stun larger enemies. Enemies and breaking objects will drop yellow shields that give the exo suit more armour.
The suits capabilities
In Titanium Hound, when firing your weapons, the player will use up their gun energy, which then gets converted into shield power and vice versa. The exoskeleton can equip various modifications the player can swap out before any mission. Players can carry up to six mods but will have two unlocked at the start. Some mods will allow Grace to add mini explosions to her primary fire, while others will help her shields efficiency. I found the shield regeneration mod a must-have, as it allows the exoskeleton to repair while the shield is activated.
During levels, you will find intel files which serve as the game’s collectables. After collecting all the intel in a mission, the player’s reward is either a modification slot or a new modification for the exoskeleton. Purple bolts are for crafting, collected from defeating enemies or smashing crates with a wrench symbol. Grace can make four kinds of items; microbombs, a repair kit, a portable disruptor, and a sticky pulser. They will help Grace deal with large groups of enemies and bosses.
Bosses, puzzles, and the levels
The bosses in Titanium Hound are fun and challenging, testing the players on how well they can use their suit’s energy wisely. Some bosses were tedious, like the truck in the first mission, while others were boring. An example of this is the tank/truck hybrid. All I had to do was throw stun canisters at it. The checkpoints in the game are very generous at times. I would die at the same time as the boss, but thanks to the checkpoint would put me after the fight. Each level has puzzles for the player to figure out, from flipping certain switches to moving boxes with the roman numeral on them. The third mission was tricky with the four platforms, as the answer was hard to find.
Cameras are placed around the levels and can be temporarily shut down or destroyed. If players walk into the sight of one or choose to break them, they will have to face oncoming security bots. Players will need to get keys of specific enemies to unlock the way ahead, doors can then be closed behind you, but this doesn’t seem necessary. Small orange boxes in missions that, when shot, will trigger platforms to move or walls to open to give players access to locked intel or caches with pickups inside.
Words from the developers
I asked the development team at Red Spot Sylphina what inspired the story, gameplay, and art of Titanium Hound. They kindly took the time to respond to me and said…
” In terms of visuals my source of inspiration was the Huntdown game. In terms of story I was inspired by many cyberpunk games and movies (like Deus Ex, Ghost in the Shell, etc). Story is the most important part here. And in terms of gameplay I wanted to create something unique – this is how the energy flow system came to life. I just didn’t want to make a clone of another game, so I tried to invent something new”.
Graphics & Audio
I loved the pixel art style of Titanium Hound. The flame effects and the way the characters’ mouths moved looked great. When Grace fires her weapon, she pulls an intense look, which is great and reminds me of Wolfenstein/original Dooms design with the face on the screen. Levels were designed well, with red borders to show boundaries without ruining the overall aesthetic. I would have liked to have seen more visuals for the cyberpunk theme instead of just one wire on a character’s head.
The sound effects when firing guns or opening doors were excellent. The voice acting was a little dry for the protagonist, but the other character’s dialogue was very cheesy yet well delivered. Music was great for each level with some repeating, but they did help set the tone for unground areas and the action of the missions.
I completed the game in under seven hours and collected all the intel in each level. There is a counter that says how many hours played, but this is only for when you are on a mission and not the menus. Missions can take roughly forty-five minutes or more to finish depending on how well you are with 2D platformers. Missions cannot be re-played, which is a shame with what you get at the end of the game. Only one save file is allowed at a time. Players will have to start from scratch if they want a new save.
I enjoyed my time with Titanium Hound. It’s a hidden gem that more people should start digging into. The story could do with some work, but the controls and feel of the game were on point. Expanding on the ending is needed as it ends abruptly, but hopefully, a sequel is in the works to see what happens next for Grace. I would like to see more variety in weapons and puzzles in future titles. More depth to Grace’s character as she currently feels one-dimensional.
You cannot change the key binding for the shield controls. My finger would ache after holding the button for too long. The story could use a little work by adding more characters. For what’s already here, I would highly recommend picking it up.
I would have to give Titanium Hound the Thumb Culture Gold Award.
Disclaimer: A code was received in order to write this review.