Can you make it through the labyrinth and avoid the Minotaur in this third person adventure? Find out what we thought in our Theseus Review.
What, or who is Theseus? It’s clear to see from the trailer and previous footage that this is set in a Greek setting, and indeed, it tells a unique version of the myth of Theseus’ and the labyrinth on Crete. This is the latest game from Forge Replay, and it is a 3rd person PSVR adventure game. How does it hold up, and is the story, gameplay, and length worth the price? Let’s dive in.
The game starts off with our hero walking through what seems like a deep cavern with no walls. Blood covers the entire ground up to his ankles and pillars and other rock formations jut up from the ground, some in multiple pieces floating as if suspended by some unseen force. A huge door looms in the distance, and the only way to walk is forward, toward the obvious objective. Once you make it, the screen goes white and suddenly Theseus is in a room dimly lit room laying on a stone pedestal. How did he get here? Was that just a dream? Who was that voice?
Theseus has a rather unique way of doing camera angles all throughout the game. Sometimes, like in the beginning, you’ll be in a 3rd person over the shoulder camera angle, and others the camera will be stuck in certain areas of the environment. It gave me a nostalgic feeling of how Resident Evil used to have that sort of security camera feeling. Except in PSVR, you’re free to look wherever you please, you may not be able to move the camera around freely, but it’s an interesting way to allow you to check out your surroundings. With this in mind, we trod along towards who knows what.
As one of the four doors opens for you and let us know where to go. It’s here we really begin to see the linear nature of the game. There’s only ever one way to go, although at times it seems there is another diverging path, why is that? This does allow for a more cinematic experience, and really sets the mood of the game. There’s a stigma on linear games I think is unwarranted, especially when you see games like Theseus do it well. Although the lack of directive and stuff to do in the first 15 minutes of the game did make it feel like a walking simulator.
As you make your way deeper and deeper into the labyrinth, you begin to see some of the mechanics of the game. Climbing your environment similar to that of an Uncharted game, crawling under fallen objects and so on. But keep in mind you’re unable to do anything unless specifically given permission with a button prompt, at least that’s how it’s been so far. Eventually, we run into Ariadne, who seems like a spirit who wants to help us. She tells us she is trapped in this “nightmare” like us, and that where we see the light rising in the distance is where we must go. We must help her put an end to this… whatever it is.
So we’ve been playing the game for about 15 minutes so far, and by now we haven’t done much but walk forward. Now we have an objective, maybe things will begin to ramp up. Ariadne takes on the form of a wisp and tells us to follow her, so we continue walking. She begins to fill us in on the story, how Asterion is the Minotaur and how he used to be the guardian of the labyrinth but something turned him evil. It’s here we get our first look at the Minotaur, a huge 3 story tall beast who is apparently blind due to the corruption. But let’s save the rest of the story for you to play through and let’s talk about the game and the rest of its details.
One thing it gets absolutely right is the atmosphere of the game. It feels like you’re actually there, in this crumbling labyrinth that this hulking minotaur controls. The dark mood in every area, some fires lit, but most put out due to lack of care. Pillars fallen long ago and dead bodies strewn throughout the game. The music and sound as well fit very well and heightening the experience by drawing you in. The graphics themselves are nothing to write home about, but other than a few things in the distance being painted backgrounds, such as the sky, are overall pretty good. Although like just about every other VR game the AA is almost non-existent.
The overall story is pretty vague, who is Theseus, who is Ariadne, and why are they in this nightmare? Why do I have to walk through this dungeon and rescue this mystery ghost? I guess its simplicity and intent make it sort of confusing or just shallow. Although on the other hand, that simplicity makes it easier for people to get into the game. You walk the linear path, fight some of Asterion’s spider minions, and hopefully make it to the end saving the day.
Speaking of fighting mechanics. You eventually get a sword and torch and are able to fend for yourself while Asterion throws his minons at you in order to halt your progress. At first they pit you against 1 or two at a time, but eventually they ramp up the difficulty. This is where the game could use the most improvement. Fighting these spiders is a two button experience. One button swings your torch which scares the spiders into retreating, while the other swings your sword. That’s it. They each take quite a few swings to take down, but when they’re ready a button pops over their head for a quick kill. It can be a little frustrating as they can hit you mid swing sometimes, but that’s where crowd control comes into play.
The game also has a couple of areas within it that doesn’t give you too much direction on what you need to do to advance, which leads to a more frustration as you struggle to figure it out. Those areas become pure trial and error as you die repeatedly.
The overall game is about a 2 hour experience, which can be extended with future playthroughs, going back for collectibles you may have missed or branching pathways you may be curious about. The game only has 13 trophies, and sadly, a platinum is not one. I did, however, manage to get 10 of them on my first playthrough, so trophy hunters will like this one for its easy 100%. The sound and atmosphere really pull you into the experience, the graphics are good, but not great, however draw you in regardless. The fighting is really shallow, and there is a trick to make it even simpler, and the game can sometimes feel like a walking simulator with a lack of direction.
In the end, it’s a fun game that’s not perfect. It’s $20 asking price may be a little high, but it wouldn’t be the first game that’s about 2 hours long for that price. It’s unique in its delivery and is worth sitting down to play at least once. For those itching for a new VR experience on PS4, I’d say it’s worth looking into. If not, wait for it to go on sale and pick it up then.
For my thoughts on another VR experience, check out what I thought of Resident Evil 7.