Greek mythology is wonderful. The tales featuring gods, mortals, and everything in between are wonderfully chaotic and complex while still somehow retaining relevance to the world today. So what happens when you take the most familiar of the ancient Greek world, throw in a dash of James Brown, and slap it all on top of the incredibly overused endless running genre? You get Funk of Titans, and it's a bit of a mess.
You are Perseus, the son of Zeus. You must battle evil titans. That’s approximately where this game’s story stops making sense. Perseus is the protector of funk music, and funk is the music of the Gods. So when three evil Musical Titans try to take over with rap, pop, and rock, Zeus (who looks suspiciously like Laurence Fishburne in The Matrix, which is actually an unexpected and hilarious perk) sends Perseus to defeat them. After all, there can be only one form music and it better be the Chosen One.
The entire paragraph you’ve just read probably sounds like a joke. Or a really bad (and likely beer-fueled) film made in someone’s backyard over the course of an afternoon. But no, that truly is the basis of the game. The only things that actually relate to Greek mythology are names – you’ll run into others aside from those already mentioned – and places, but it really doesn’t matter because they seem like they are their solely for the Ancient Greek connection. And the only things that actually relate to the funk genre of music are the title, the soundtrack, and several items based more on wordplay than the actual culture funk represented. I am the first person to admit I know very little about funk (I was born in the 80's and I am literally the whitest person I know) but I do know that "Funk Trooper" is not a thing and that boomboxes far more commonly represent hip-hop, not funk (although hip-hop songs often sample extensively from funk, but that’s neither here nor there). The dissociation between the mythology, the music, and the story (or should I say, "story") is overwhelming, to say the least.
Pretend for a minute that the story was perfect. How about the gameplay? As previously mentioned, it’s a runner platformer. Your little hero character runs. Sometimes he jumps, sometimes he strikes down enemies, but mostly it’s just collecting gold records while jumping. Each level tries to be replayable by having three associated awards (taking no damage, getting every record, finding the bonus level) but after playing a level once I never found myself thinking "Hmm, let’s try that again and see if I can do better." The bonus levels are rip-offs of the now-infamous Flappy Bird. Every so often a level pops up where the hero has to battle a bad guy (grunts) by hitting buttons as they appear on screen. Funk of Titans provides no original gameplay; in fact, it blatantly copies other games and tries to give them a shiny new finish. Emphasis on "tries."
The graphics are the one place the game almost makes up for its shortcomings. Some of the backgrounds are actually quite gorgeous and resemble watercolour art. The rest are bold, brightly-coloured, and crisp. But the mid-world grunt fights look almost fuzzy, possibly due to the attempt at 3D characters in a 2D game. And the bonus levels have some funny music-related items laying around, such as dozens of discarded red iPod Nanos. There are still graphical drawbacks, though, as sometimes items in the forefront (fire, boxes) blend into the background too much to be properly distinguishable.
One drawback to Funk of Titans that it is too large to overlook is the platform: it’s on PC (as I’ve reviewed here) and Xbox One. I honestly believe that if an endless runner stands a chance it should be on iOS and Android; it should be made for mobile, touch-screen gaming. Nobody wants to sit at a desk for hours to play a character that auto-runs in one direction the entire time, but some (myself included) would be perfectly happy to get in a level or two while waiting for an appointment.
Related reading: Nick's review of Funk of Titans on Xbox One.
Funk has a wonderful diverse background. Greek mythology is full of stories. Yet this game draws on none of the good. Funk of Titans is an endless runner, a genre of games that seems to have oversaturated the market in recent history. It doesn’t provide anything out of the ordinary or unexpected. And in the end, the platform it is available on did it more harm than good.
- Lindsay M.