Theseus is an immersive VR experience that offers a new take on the myth of the Minotaur. Enjoy a mix of exploration, story, and combat, with a strong cinematic feel. Do you have what it takes to unveil the truth that lies at the heart of the Labyrinth?
Single-Player, Action/Adventure gameplay
July 26, 2017
Developer: Forge Reply
Publisher: Forge Reply
Genre: Third Person, Action, Adventure
Platforms: PS4, (PSVR)
Rating: T for Teen
Greek mythological tales have always fascinated me. Theseus, along with Perseus, Hercules, Heracles and several others, are often regarded as some of the greatest heroes in the entire lineage of Greek mythology. Theseus from developer Forge Reply Games tells the story of the ancient Greek hero making his way through a labyrinth to defeat an evil Minotaur threatening to unleash carnage on the land.
Violence: There are dreamlike scenes where the protagonist walks through what appears to be a pool of blood. When fighting enemies, light particle effects of blood will spatter in different directions depending on where the protagonist slashes his sword. Grotesque and disturbing looking creatures are encountered throughout the journey.
Spiritual Content: Since Theseus takes place in the context of Greek mythology, a few Greek gods are mentioned and the history of Greek theology is told through a narrator. Many mystical elements occur where the protagonist is taken to dreamlike areas where magic spells are performed and beasts of the Greek pantheon are mentioned or appear in flashbacks.
From the get-go, you will probably notice Theseus isn’t in first-person like many PlayStation VR titles. Instead, the game is completely played in third-person while the camera is in fixed positions, allowing you to pan the camera using the VR headset. I must say, the ancient ruins you explore are gorgeously detailed which makes the game world incredibly immersive. To add to this, the Minotaur itself is enormous and not what you would expect. This monstrosity lurks around randomly between scenes and will even give you a few up-close encounters on occasion. Theseus on the other hand, looks like your average Greek soldier but he’s quite small compared to the massive labyrinth he finds himself in. The eerie audio effects and orchestral soundtrack help maintain an unsettling atmosphere, and it all comes together to form one memorable world.
Speaking of atmosphere, Theseus does a masterful job of keeping the player on their toes as sets of disturbing eyes skitter in and out of the darkness, twisted silhouettes suggest macabre horrors, and the whole labyrinth constantly crumbles and shakes from the mammoth steps the Minotaur takes. These are just a handful of ways in which Forge Reply manages to keep your nerves on edge.
The majority of your time in Theseus is spent exploring the labyrinth, figuring out where to go, and how. There are some puzzle elements—though they are quite simple—as well as some combat. A few wrinkles in the story will keep you engaged, but nothing necessarily surprises. The presentation is not what one thinks of instantly when VR is mentioned, but this proves that it can work in third-person, even if it’s not fully ideal.
Primarily, you will be walking through linear corridors, heading deeper into the labyrinth to reach the center. There are basic, context sensitive actions you can take when you reach obstacles, like crouching under low-hanging rocks or climbing on top of objects. Much like the Uncharted series, the style of climbing follows the you-can’t-die approach. I found these segments shallow because of their simplicity and lack of immediate danger.
In terms of combat, like with exploration, your options are very limited. While you obviously cannot hope to engage the Minotaur in one-on-one combat and remain alive, you can fight his ’children” who resemble hulking, mutated spiders with massive multi-limbed appendages. The first time you encounter the monstrosities, all you have is a torch which can ward them off and be used with the sword for crowd control in dark environments. As is, the combat is serviceable, and there’s little or no flair to the proceedings; a basic sword attack can be chained into a combo, while a QTE style prompt can trigger an execution once the enemy has been weakened. There is also a dodge/roll but I primarily used it to shorten distance between me and the enemy rather than actually dodging attacks. Getting hit never seemed to be an issue as I just continued to tap the square button as Theseus devolves into a simple button masher.
Theseus can be summed up as a mixture of good and bad elements. Most of the bad parts in Theseus are just not fully-developed concepts. The story is brimming with excitement and wonder, making for an experience ripe for improvement. Forge Reply picked a great Greek myth to tackle, and one that works surprisingly well in VR. However, the shortcomings are too numerous to be overlooked. Uneven combat, shallow gameplay and a lack of depth make the game more aesthetically pleasing than fun to play.
+ Immersive atmosphere
+ Great visual and sound design
+ Distinct enemy design, especially the Minotaur
- Short campaign and lack of replay value
- Monotonous gameplay and puzzle solving
- Linear level design leads to lack of exploration