Gamers play as Titus, an agoraphobic watchmaker from Magenta City. A player must “give up your fears and free yourself!” At least that is what it says in the letter Titus receives from an anonymous friend in the app’s intro. Titus’s goal is to defeat his archnemesis, Desmond the Mime, an evil ruler who has brought strife to Titus’s beloved Wealland.
If that premise appeals, then Titus will draw you in. Generally a game’s back story is easily forgotten once the player gets engrossed in the meat of the game. With Titus, the back story is the game’s most engaging feature.
The “Story of Titus,” or campaign mode, constitutes the game’s bulk. Campaign mode comprises a series of elections, in which the final opponent is the dreaded Desmond. Campaigns are run by the user, who decides how to proceed in order to win. Play fair or play dirty. It’s all on the table, but, be warned, there may be consequences for the actions.
Additionally, players can tackle five minigames, or try their hand at a simple election — one round of campaigning against several opponents.
All of these different game components are interwoven, however, since one succeeds in campaign mode by tackling the minigames in succession.
Campaign mode game play requires the user to choose a series of minigames in order to campaign against the opponents. It is through the combination of these choices that elections are won or lost.
Choices include financing, calling a meeting, distributing propaganda, or starting an investigation or a rumor.
The user’s performance during these challenges affects Titus’ attributes. Between minigames the app updates the user on Titus’ reputation, honesty, and the status of his campaign war chest.
There are ten rounds in election mode, and the learning curve in Titus is quite steep. For most players it will be quite some time before Titus faces off against Desmond the Mime. The individual mini games soon grow repetitive, particularly spreading propaganda, which suffers from frustratingly imprecise game controls.
Success or failure in a given election seemed arbitrary. While there is probably a logical combination of mini games that will lead to an election win, the games themselves simply were not sufficiently engaging for me to want to play long enough to try all of the permutations.
Though Titus sports wholly original graphics, they could have been sharper. Instead of standing out crisply against the background, Titus often appears fuzzy, and the Abe Lincoln-esqe icon one wields throughout the mini games looks dated rather than retro.
On a more positive note, the creepy soundtrack builds tension and drama during game play. Also, thanks to a recent update Titus now supports Game Center.
Titus blends a dystopic vision with dry humor, and is always unapologetically weird. While its concept is singular, the app’s execution doesn’t measure up to the originality that sparked its creation.