TAURONOS is a new indie game from 16bitnights and cavalie.ro that was recently greenlit on steam. Is this $5 indie title worth your time?
Inspired by the Greek myth of the labyrinth and the fight between Theseus and the Minotaur. This dark themed game is visually expressed in retro pixel art. Enriched through voice acting, and metaphorical storytelling which creates an atmosphere that gets you deep into the maze. The music and dark aura surrounding you serve as a great reminder of how deep this darkness really is.
What exactly is Tauronos though? Tauronos is a game in which you exploring a dark labyrinth, praying to the gods for favors and avoiding traps with only your wits about you. All the while the relentless Minotaur chases after you.
As Theseus, your only way to look around is with the torch in your hands. The torch is the only tool you have at your service and is pretty much the only visual guide through the Labyrinth. As you make your way through the Labyrinth you’ll quickly find there is only one inhabitant, the Minotaur. Relentless and always in pursuit, this hunter never stops looking for its prey. You’ll have to make your way through the Labyrinth, knowing that at one point, you will have to face this beast.
The gameplay on Tauronos is simple; make your way to the center of the labyrinth. You can both run and walk, but running takes up precious energy, so it must be saved for vital instanced. As you make your way deeper and deeper you will need to avoid traps, as well as the Minotaur with the usage of our torch.
The Torch is the main way to look around and see paths, it is also the way to find secrets as the Labyrinth is full of them. Most of these secrets are upgrades to your character which will make your journey easier.
The game also has a form of permadeath in it, which means that once you die, it’s over for good. You have a set amount of continues, but you can find more in those previously mentioned secrets. But the game has no check points, so if you run out of continues, you’ll have to start all over.
The controls are very responsive too. On your quest, you will interact with obstacles in the Labyrinth such as traps, giant boulders, and the classic wall darts which are at every corner just waiting for you to make a mistake.
The Labyrinth is dark, with both long and short hallways. If you wish to see farther ahead you will need to upgrade your Torch. Although an upgraded torch will only help you so much. Which is just the nature of the Labyrinth, so you must remain vigilant against the Minotaur. There is, however, a tool to look for the Minotaurs location so you’re not completely taken by surprise.
This tool is located at some walls throughout the Labyrinth, and by activating it you can see the current location of the Minotaur. As well as having an overview of the current floor of the Labyrinth you are in, which will help you plan your route through the Labyrinth. Knowing which path to take to safety is important. Which also takes me to the altars.
These Altars are how you upgrade your basic stats. From how fast you run, how much damage you can withstand, how much light your torch gives, how much energy and how much health you can recover. And perhaps the most important, how fast you interact with the environment.
The secrets are hidden via small rooms and passages in the Labyrinth that at times can seem like a dead. The rooms often contain secret perks, such as regeneration of health, energy, or those precious extra continues. As stated before, once you run out, you’ve got to start all over from the first level. They are also your means to save the game. So if you don’t plan to finish the game in one go, make sure you can spare one before quitting your session.
The game has 46 levels, and in order to make it to the next level, all you need to do is reach the door. Which ends up being easier said than done. You are in a maze like Labyrinth after all. If there were directions and a sign indicating the exit it wouldn’t be much of a game. Sometimes the Minotaur can be near the exit too, which puts a spin on exiting the level and requires some extra thought on how to get around him.
The Minotaur is always looking for you as well, and due to this, he is on alert. Luckily, he can be temporally stunned, giving your scant seconds to get a breather. This is done by getting to the door from which he came out of and locking that door. This will confuse him and cause him to lose focus, but it must be done when he hasn’t noticed you yet.
There is an indication of just how alert the Minotaur is by looking at the bar on the screen. This indicator is crucial, for the higher it gets, the faster the Minotaur gets, which makes running from him much harder.
I had a lot of fun with the game. It got challenging at certain points, but I never felt like it was unfair or boring.
Tauronos has a solid atmosphere with its dark surroundings, eerie sounds, and an ever looming threat of the Minotaur gives the Labyrinth a feeling of trapped hopelessness. Everything meshes so well that it really draws you in.
The pixel art is also a nice plus. In proper retro style, it brings fond memories and is rather enjoyable. I’m glad indies have been making a focus on keeping the style alive.
The game has 6 chapters, and each chapter is focused on a different challenge. With a whole different pattern to the Labyrinth and with different rewards. 42 Stages, 5 skills upgrades, each with 3 levels. Hidden upgrades, 2 unique ones, secret passages hidden in the dark of the Labyrinth, and Easter eggs are hidden for those willing to find them will keep completionists busy for at least a little while.
Tauronos is already for sale on Steam with 47 possible achievements. The game is currently 20% off at 3.99, and let me tell you, in the opinion of this humble gamer, it’s worth every penny.