Theseus analysis. The eternal myth

Written by Kamran Haider

In Theseus we will live thanks to the virtual reality of a new interpretation of the myth of Theseus and the Minotaur, where we will have to defeat the mythological creature and leave this place that, in a somewhat more surreal and dreamlike vision of the labyrinth, keeps more than one surprise between its walls for our hero.

One of the games that I remember best in virtual reality is Chronos. A third-person adventure that stood up to everyone who said that VR was relegated to a subjective perspective. More than a year later, Theseus

He seems to have the same opinion and shows that seeing the set of fixed cameras and sight of the character can even help to make the dizziness and comfort better with these glasses. Theseus, in fact, uses the same system that Gunfire Games (Darksiders III, 2018) did with Chronos: take advantage of the movement of our neck by following the character to make a camera axis change that makes the reverse route in the next room, creating a system of fixed planes Resident Evil style very comfortable for the virtual environment. Thus, a new interpretation of the myth of Theseus, Ariadne and the Labyrinth of the Minotaur are constructed, which, unfortunately, has little labyrinthine, resulting in an extremely linear adventure that clashes even more for the environment in which we find ourselves.

The interpretation of the Greek myth, as if it were a God of War, is quite free, but attractive in its form. Both the labyrinth and a kind of Limbo that we will visit seem more belonging to Hades’s underworld itself, with a corrupted minotaur and rooms that have seen better times. I cannot delve much into his narration since Theseus is so short (we are talking about an hour, hour and a half for the first game) that any slight synopsis would reveal too much of the argument.

A labyrinth without loss

As a game, however, we don’t know very well what the Forge Reply team points to with its premiere on PlayStation VR. The first moments seem more typical of a third-person walking simulator to shyly take their first steps until they end up introducing a combat prototype of attacks, movements, enemies, and situations that are too limited. He does the same with his scuffle with the puzzles, which end before they have almost begun. There is even an attempt to make the labyrinth a true place to get lost, but the result is more like a half-baked idea that does not finish curdling, to be relegated to a secondary and anecdotal path to collect collectibles in the second game, and thus unveiling a second ending that brings some variety to the whole.

The problem is that Theseus is not a title that invites to be rejugated. Its setting helps to bewitch the first time, thanks to the imagery that has been put into the construction of this complex of rooms about to fall apart. The high points of the story and the presentation of the (two) enemies, as well as the encounters with Ariadne,  are attractive and invite us to continue. But if a video game is the introduction of certain mechanics that gradually become deeper and more challenging, Theseus stays in the presentation. And if your goal was more like a narrative adventure, you don’t get to realize your full potential.

Theseus is not a title that invites to be rejugated

It is a shame to see such an attractive idea, but little used. Any of the mazes seen in the recent The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild (and that you can “cheat” in them) convey more the feeling of being in a dark and twisted environment than what achieves the linearity of Theseus. But above all, it is the lack of depth in each of the playable and narrative proposals that make Theseus a title that does not go beyond mere curiosity and the avid seeker of new experiences in virtual reality. To the point of converting each of its mechanics, the fight, the puzzle, the platforms or the stealth, into practically a minigame: a simple one-time experience.

Theseus is a peculiar game. Halfway between the video game and the experience, which unfortunately looks better in its trailer and in the captures than when putting the virtual reality device on the head, by pixelation and sawtooth that over-compress the image quality of the environments so suggestive created with the Unreal Engine 4. Of course, it offers some great moments in return thanks to its immersion, observing this dark and modern vision of the myth of Theseus through the PlayStation VR. With this, we also stay, because, for the right price, it can become an appreciable and attractive rarity.

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Theseus fails to stand out in any playable or narrative aspect since it is such a short experience that it does not give time to deepen its history or its mechanics. But there is something suggestive about him, in this dark and dreamlike setting of the myth of Theseus and the Minotaur that leaves us wanting more. As it has arrived, it remains in a stimulating curiosity.

  • The atmosphere of the maze, very successful.
  • Lack of depth in both the playable and narrative field
  • Simple animations and mechanics

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Kamran Haider

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