I can feel the slight tug of the red, bloody waters as I trudge towards a narrow tower of light. It's where two absolutely massive, towering doors stand, the only structure in this strange landscape I find myself in. I manage to reach the doors, push my way through them, and I am absorbed by a bright, blinding white light. I gasp, sitting up on a stone block, surrounded by a flickering torch, and crude stone hewn walls.
Layers of atmospheric labyrinth
From the moment that you wake up, you are thrust into the world of Theseus. That is to say, you're deep in the bowels of an absolutely massive labyrinth made of more floors and rooms than you can count, crumbling away before your very eyes. In a very real way, the environment of Theseus is the real star of the show. On more than one occasion I found myself craning my head around looking at the small details in areas I knew I'd never get to explore.
When I saw the massive Minotaur burst onto the scene the first time it stole my breath away.
While the world around you looks gorgeous at a distance, it doesn't quite manage to pull it off up close, which is a real shame. Your character — who is never named, but presumed to be Theseus by his Greek styled armor — looks more like something out of a PlayStation 2 game than anything recent. Still, this really isn't a deal breaker. The story, and the labyrinth, are what you're actually looking at.
When I saw the massive — and dear God is it huge — Minotaur burst onto the scene the first time it stole my breath away. In many ways, Theseus is not up to size for the environment around him, because the rotting labyrinth was built for the Minotaur to roam.
Ariadne needs your help
After just a few twists and turns in the labyrinth, I come upon a room that has a skeleton, with a glowing trail whizzing around its head. Following my new guide, I was brought to a room with a stone slab and the face behind a voice that had been beseeching me to find it. Ariadne, or what was left of her, needed my help. She was as trapped as I was within the labyrinth, but she could guide me so that together we could defeat the Minotaur.
In order to do that of course, I'll need to make all the way to the other side of this contained world where Ariadne's light shines brightly. In between me and my destination is the corruption from when the Minotaur turned from being a protector of the labyrinth into something more malignant. Dark pools cover areas of the floor, and black sticky webs are blocking the doorways in many places.
Find your way through this trap
Getting through the labyrinth is no piece of cake, even without those spider webs obscuring the way. You'll have to climb over and under rubble, as well as scaling walls, and sliding through cracks in order to get where you're going. At some point the path will crumble in front of you, making you scramble for footing, or you'll have to hunt down switches and buttons that will open doors or clear your path.
Of course, there is also the Minotaur — who desperately wants to kill you dead — and spiders for you to wade through. At first, the only weapon you'll have available to you is a torch, but you'll soon acquire a blade, making dealing with spiders slightly less stressful. Only slightly though, as a result of the clunky feel to combat. With only one button to attack, no button to dodge and the loose movement controls, it's hard to stay immersed within the labyrinth.
Theseus also uses a stealth mechanic when you are dealing with the Minotaur.
Again these aren't deal breakers, but they do make playing through sections of the game much more frustrating than it has any right to be. While you do get a checkpoint that will only kick you back a few moments, I had to step away from the game a few times...and still managed to beat it in around three hours.
Theseus also uses a stealth mechanic when you are dealing with the Minotaur. It's so large that there is no way for you to fight it one on one, so instead, you'll need to sneak by in order to survive the ordeal. Otherwise, he'll just smash you like an insect under his thumb, and really, who wants that? You'll have to hide behind objects, extinguish your torches, avoid making noise by running into pottery and using a bit of strategy in order to get by him but this was actually one of the more fun mechanics in gameplay.
Theseus is a fun but flawed time
Theseus delivers on a real mixed bag when it comes to gameplay. The world is gorgeous, but a bit blurry up close. The story is a different take on the myth of Theseus and the Minotaur but fails to grab your attention after a certain point. The mechanics are a bit clunky, and combat was frustrating, but not enough that it threw off my enjoyment of the game. Theseus is really close to being something amazing but misses the mark due to a few core components.
For fans of action games though, it may be easy enough to look past these issues and enjoy the game for what it is. At $19.99 it's a pretty affordable offering - just don't expect a super polished experience.
- Awesome labyrinth environments.
- Interesting story.
- Mechanics were easy to pick up.
- Game is fairly short at only 3 hours long.
- Combat mechanics are flawed making for a frustrating experience.
- Steep learning curve for combat and stealth mechanics.
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