The Plodding, Dreamlike Melancholy of 'Titan Chaser'

The game is rough, slow, and awkward, but it’s also lovely and contemplative

Key Takeaways

  • Titan Chaser is a game that knows exactly what it wants to be and sacrifices nothing to appeal to a wider audience.
  • The world is a surreal, dreamlike space with a lot of useless and fascinating landmarks to discover.
  • The titans themselves are few but memorable, with each conveying an appropriate amount of awe and menace.
Driving past the Woodville sign in Titan Chaser

Titan Chaser is weird, unpolished, vague, glacial, and brief. And I loved every minute of it.

It was absolutely Titan Chaser’s spooky and somewhat unearthly screenshots on the Nintendo Switch eShop that first caught my attention. Everything has this ethereal quality to it—almost like it takes place in a dream. Looking at and playing the game are two very different things, but I was relieved to find that it was pretty much exactly what I wanted.

Sure, it’s rough around the edges and there are a lot (I mean a lot) of meticulous and tedious actions required to do something as basic as driving down the road. Yeah, navigation is tough when your map stays on the passenger seat and your compass is on the floor. But this is an inexpensive and kind of experimental indie game, and I legitimately love weird, meticulous stuff like that. 

The World

Everything takes place in an open, but relatively small, rural area somewhere on what I think is Earth. Or maybe it’s a dream. It’s difficult to tell either way, but the place is just the right size. It’s big enough for exploration to feel satisfying, but small enough so that getting lost or getting back to the hotel doesn’t take very long. And it’s blanketed in a mood that’s simultaneously unsetting and kind of comforting.

Looking for the Lost Wyvern in Titan Chaser

Straying from the path usually felt rewarding because I didn’t have to walk (or drive if there was room) for very long before I found something. Usually, it was an abandoned relic of decades past or a geographical oddity, but sometimes it was a beautiful glowing willow tree or a serene lighthouse. There really isn’t anything to do in these locations other than listen to the protagonist muse on them, and that’s just fine with me.

I even appreciate that workhorse junker of a car you have to use, which the protagonist dubs “Christine,” because of course. Christine isn’t very fast, but she’s a lot better than walking, and you can listen to some really tranquil but also creepy (i.e. perfect) music as a bonus. Using her might be maddeningly methodical to some, certainly, since you have to look at specific spots in order to do things like open the door. I, on the other hand, was absorbed in that monotony, to the point where everything became almost meditative.

The Titans

Of course, the massive creatures you have to guide and repel would be the other side of the coin for me. How could they not? Much like the world, itself, they’re eerie and beautiful, harmless but also thrilling. They won’t hurt you, but they’re still given an appropriate feeling of wonder and gravitas that left me in slightly nervous awe all the same.

Each titan is like a basic series of puzzles to solve. You have to check your notes to see what will get them to move along, figure out how to navigate to their location, and sometimes use bits of the environment. There aren’t any real penalties for doing something “wrong” so you have all the time you need to figure things out. Or you can just stare at them—seeing a giant humanoid creature shrouded in fog wandering the countryside is kind of majestic, in its own way.

Approaching a bridge in the fog in Titan Chaser

I’d love to talk about each of the titans individually, but there aren’t that many and it’s more impactful if you don’t know what to expect. Suffice it to say, while there are only a handful of them, they each left an impression. Seeing these impossible creatures meandering around foggy bridges and flying around dilapidated trains put my mind at ease in a weird way. I could feel myself relax as they loomed in the distance, in spite of their underlying intimidation.

Titan Chaser feels like the kind of game everyone except me might find dull or pointless, and that’s okay. Not everyone wants to play a game that forces you to take your time and has no real stakes. 

But for someone like me who needs to wrap myself in the video game equivalent of a blanket made out of TV static, it’s perfect. It’s dull and strange and pointless and exactly what I needed.

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