Theseus (PlayStation 4) Review

By Albert Lichi 27.07.2017

Review for Theseus on PlayStation 4

The God of War series pretty much owns the idea of doing a game based on Greek myths. It's pretty hard to compete with an action series that has such insane spectacle, and anyone who will try will be stuck in a position that will leave them to be inevitably compared to it. Theseus, on the other hand, is a PSVR game that chose to rise to the challenge and take a bold step with its take on one of the Greek myths, following the hero of Athens and his battle with the minotaur, but dialling back on the spectacle. Is this labyrinth worth getting lost in or does it belong in Hades?

Theseus is an unusual game and an even more unusual VR experience. Most PSVR exclusive adventure games are set in the first-person, since this is the most logical way to get immersed in VR. Theseus is not set in the first-person, but is instead closer to something seen in old PlayStation survival horror titles, what with the fixed camera perspectives that jump around depending on where the player-character is.

It is a strange sensation to be controlling a character from fixed vantage points of varying distance, and to its credit it is not a bad choice. Being able to free look in VR while moving Theseus around certainly does make for frequent picturesque vistas, and is refreshing since it is pretty much established most VR games are first-person. However, it does beg the question of why bother with virtual reality at all, since there really isn't anything in Theseus that is enhanced with the PSVR headset.

Screenshot for Theseus on PlayStation 4

When Theseus isn't evoking memories of old PlayStation horror games, it is taking a lot of control away and forcing very tedious scripted trial-and-error sequences, or requiring up to be held to move forward. Even when acquiring a sword, Theseus will only draw it out automatically when the game's only enemy shows up, which is some kind of nightmarish large spider. Maybe this is supposed to be like how random encounters work in RPGs, because when enemies show up, suddenly mobility ramps up.

The combat is best described as functional, or uh.... spartan... since the hero has a very basic combo, dodge roll and the option to swing a torch around if it's lit. There really is not much to it, and if Theseus has a lit torch then fights become a joke, since getting the spiders burned instantly makes them vulnerable to the QTE fatality, which was the only other thing that this had in common with God of War.

Screenshot for Theseus on PlayStation 4

One thing that must be mentioned in regards to the combat is the otherwise dreadful and limp sound design. The attacks really do lack the proper feedback required to make them feel like they connect, and as it stands now, it feels like enemies are air. Even Theseus' footsteps lack any sound and it hurts the atmosphere in an otherwise gorgeous but moody looking game.

Since this is a myth about the minotaur, expect to face a minotaur… and yet it couldn't be more underwhelming. Even the design feels wrong and looks more like a generic horned demon than a bull-headed giant. Theseus doesn't even follow the legend accurately because the beast isn't even decapitated like in the story - instead, Theseus just has to pull a couple of switches and that's all. There really is no cat and mouse battle of the wits or real navigation of the labyrinth, since Ariadne basically guides Theseus every step of the way, making it impossible to get lost, which defeats the purpose of making a game set exclusively in a labyrinth.

Screenshot for Theseus on PlayStation 4

The labyrinth itself is also fairly uninspired in its layout, which is mostly comprised of samey assets recycled over and over to pad out what is already an extraordinarily short game. What assets there are are quite beautiful, and Theseus manages to look as good as Resident Evil 7: Biohazard in terms of visual fidelity in a VR game, and in some cases surpasses it due to shadows being completely free of jagged edges.

This is a hard game to recommend. It certainly does have its merits, but it feels really stripped down or incomplete where it stands. The minotaur is more or less a stage hazard, and the spiders are the game's lone enemy type. Ariadne spells everything out too much in a game that is mostly single-corridor hallways, and there are some plot points that are never explained. One story element that happens involved multiple Theseuses dying and being resurrected, which is something that happens in Dark Souls, not the Greek myth of Theseus. Game development can be a harsh mistress, and with this game it feels as if a great project got compromised along the way.

Screenshot for Theseus on PlayStation 4

Cubed3 Rating

5/10
Rated 5 out of 10

Average

Theseus is a mixed bag. On one hand it takes a bold step in using a completely counterintuitive POV for virtual reality and makes it work, while on the other hand the game itself is extremely half-baked due to an unimaginative take on the scenario. It manages some stunning visuals and pushes some very strong animations for PSVR, yet there is barely any variety in every aspect of the game from enemies, environment or gameplay. When this game hits its ending, it is sudden and unexpected with very little fanfare. However, with all these flaws, Theseus is pretty compelling and even worth a try because of how enigmatic it is. It has a really creepy atmosphere and is just incredible to look at. There is some potential here, and maybe if the developers had more time to iron out the many kinks and add some basic features, then this would be more than a weird unfinished curiosity.

Developer

Forge Reply

Publisher

Forge Reply

Genre

Action Adventure

Players

1

C3 Score

Rated $score out of 10  5/10

Reader Score

Rated $score out of 10  0 (0 Votes)

European release date Out now   North America release date Out now   Japan release date None   Australian release date Out now   

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