Everybody either knows or has heard of the famous mythical tale of Theseus and the Minotaur, King Minos of Crete had a maze built within his kingdom including a man-eating Minotaur to sacrifice or punish his enemies. After many years of sending sacrifices from his homelands Theseus, prince of Athens decided enough was enough and volunteered to enter the labyrinth and the rest is as they say history. Theseus PSVR from Developer Forge Reply have created a little taster of Theseus experiences within the Minotaur’s labyrinth and in doing so have shown some great potential for the future.
Theseus’s Gameplay is a mix of various genres with action adventure (climbing, leaping and clambering) being the most prominent with an over the shoulder view point and limited interactions.
Stealth also plays a big part as throughout the 2-3-hour playtime you are constantly stalked by the Minotaur who has been beautifully rendered and easily compares to anything Kratos has slayed during his God of War days, however combat should not be compared as it is limited to sword and flame attacks only.
Movement is straight from the early Resident Evil games with simplistic controls – the left stick is for all movement leaving the right redundant, the buttons are extremely limited making the faster paced areas of the game much easier than they really should be, there’s an added nice touch of Theseus mimicking your head movements during play but it can send you off in the wrong direction if you’re looking and moving at the same time (the game is mainly on rails anyway ) but if you want to admire the beautifully presented environment then may I suggest doing so while stationary.
You are escorted and assisted through the multiple layers and pathways of the labyrinth by Ariadne, a ghost like figure who has been trapped for many years within the bowels of the maze by the Minotaur and for this help she asks only to be rescued.
During your dark journey into the maze, along with the constant fear of the Minotaur you come across the only other enemy giant spiders, these have to be dispatched using your sword on the latter levels but earlier levels see you fending them off with only a flame, one scene that stands out is you enter a pitch-black cavern and suddenly the eight eyes of the giant spiders suddenly start to appear from everywhere and with water dripping from various holes in the caves ceiling keeping both the flame and yourself alive is quite a tense affair but it’s all over so quickly which so happens to be the main issue I have with the game as a whole.
There are various very basic puzzles (stand here, do this before this, etc.) to solve throughout the game but none will ever leave you bewildered or backtracking and certainly can’t compare to Lara’s recent tomb raiding escapades. But if you do decide to venture back there are some areas not accessible in the early play that open once you get the sword rewarding you with various easy trophy’s, but unfortunately no platinum.
Graphicly Theseus is a very good looking game with some stunning labyrinth design, the minotaur however is the star as it is a truly terrifying creature to behold, the one and only advantage you have over this towering flesh eater is it is blind due to the fact it has lived within the labyrinths dark world for so long but with this comes the extremely heightening of all its other senses. When you do come across it (and you will many times) I encourage you to stay still and if possible put out your torch as it will certainly detect your movement and heat from the lit torch you carry, but you will die a few times during playing as the A.I of the Minotaur all though very basic is very well realised.
In my honest opinion Theseus is not a full VR experience, I would call it “a VR Hybrid” as the only action the VR headset participates in are the camera moves, the whole game is presented in a third person over the shoulder look with the fixed camera swapping positions dependant on where you walk/run next.
Don’t get me wrong though, Theseus is a much better game and experience due to the inclusion of the VR as you can inspect and plan your routes by simply looking around giving you a real sense of being within the dark walls with Theseus and not just an over the shoulder observer. I feel other developers should take note of this new and simple VR effect and try to implement it if possible within their own games as it is a cheap and effective way to achieve some sort of VR experience in an otherwise Non-VR game.
My only faults with Theseus are the simplistic nature of its gameplay and extremely short run time and along with the now expected over pricing of VR games I feel developers Forge Reply could have done so much more with this title as the game shows some serious potential especially within the story and presentation of the experience.
Overall Theseus feels like an extended showcase for the game it could have been and apart from the asking price it is a great little taster of what VR can do if implemented correctly into every game, even if its originally not designed to be a VR title. Theseus is well worth playing but maybe wait for a price drop, due to the over pricing and very short run time Theseus loses a point but watch out for the PSN store sales and pick it up then.
REVIEW CODE: A complimentary Sony Playstation 4 code was provided to Bonus Stage for this review. Please send all review code enquiries to firstname.lastname@example.org.