Roman mythology has a long list of tales of warriors against incredible odds that generally end in triumph followed with tragedy. None are more tragic than the tale of Theseus and the Minotaur. For those out of the know, I suggest looking it up, it does not detract from the newly released PSVR title I am here to review, Theseus, but does give a back story as to what Forge Reply has loosely based their game on.
You control Theseus, the man from the tale that has the quest to slay the Minotaur. You awaken in a strange place, walking ankle deep through a sea of blood. Columns are scattered around the area, shattered and broken, their pieces floating in the air as if gravity is non-existent, yet the blood remains on the earth’s surface. This world seems surreal, as you walk slowly, struggling with injury toward a structure that has a door which has bright white light powering through its crack. Upon entry you find a labyrinth and the white light of a females soul. She tells you that you must defeat the Minotaur and free her from his hold.
I have never played or even thought of playing a third person VR game, I just never thought that it would work. Theseus, which is played in the third person perspective has done an admirable job in changing my opinion toward these titles. You view the game from two different points, either over the shoulder of Theseus, or more often from a fixed camera point which is reminiscent of the original Resident Evil games. It works remarkably well, seemingly having you stationed in the correct position often. Being able to look around the with the VR works well and interestingly the characters head moves as yours does.
Over the two to three hours of gameplay required to finish, you find yourself walking throughout the labyrinth with little option of exploration besides a couple of small areas. Theseus is an extremely linier experience. Although the adventure is quite short it is well paced and enjoyable throughout. Whilst you make your way through there are climbing sections, combat sequences and a few basic puzzles to complete. None of these elements are overly difficult but I I did find myself respawning a few times throughout the journey.
The game controls reasonably well, with the climbing and combat sections feeling like a basic version of Uncharted, acting at a slower pace. Climbing comprises of using the X button to ascend, moving around with the left analogue stick and descending by use of the circle button. The combat is a simple affair, allowing the use of a flaming torch with triangle, a sword with square and the ability to dodge via the X button. It is slim picking but works reasonably well, as for enemies there are only two, the Minotaur and some arachnid type monsters which is disappointing. The torch also works to unblock your progress from thick black webs that the arachnids have left covering door and passage ways.
The best inclusion to the game is the minotaur itself. He seemingly stands at 100 feet tall, is awesomely powerful and equally terrifying. His greatest weakness is his lack of sight, the giant is as blind as a badger. He can however hear exceptionally well and sense the fire lit torch. Each section that he appears gets the heart rate up and the brain active as you try to work out how to proceed.
Graphics and Sound
Theseus is quite a good-looking game for the most part. Theseus himself is well crafted and is highly detailed. When still, you can see his breath create a fog in the cold environment which looks fantastic. There is the slight graining that VR tends to show but it does not detract from the characters at all. The arachnids look menacing and are also well detailed. The Minotaur looks magnificent. He is the star of the show, unfortunately he isn’t present long enough.
The environment is drab and dreary, and offers little variation for most of the game. It holds up well enough in representing a world that doesn’t belong to us, but there are a few average textures throughout the labyrinth.
The sound is very good. I find myself saying this in every review lately, but the acoustics through my headset really added to the overall atmosphere of the game. The thunderous stomps of the Minotaur and his snorting and snarling added terror to the experience.
Theseus was a new experience for me. It was my first venture into the world of 3rd person VR gaming and I really enjoyed it to an extent. My only real gripes are that there is a lack of variation and the game is incredibly short. Over the three hours I played Theseus, about a third of it felt fresh and exciting. The story was quite light and there is nothing driving me to go back and repeat.