I read a story when I was roughly 10 years old that I enjoyed immensely. This was the tale of Theseus, a man who ventured into a labyrinth in Crete to slay the bull headed man known as the Minotaur. Depths of Fear: Knossos filled me with excitement when I loaded the game up for the first time and saw that I would be stepping into the shoes of Theseus to navigate one of the better known architectural designs of Daedalus and Icarus to slay the Cretan king’s bull man. I wondered if maybe this game contained a happy ending mode where upon your journey home you can (mythology spoiler alert) fly the white flag so that Aegeus would not plunge to his death into the Aegean Sea, previously known as the Nameless And Insignificant Sea. Some other moderately popular gaming franchise took a few creative liberties with Greek mythology and they seemed to have a decent level of success so why not? Aegeus could remain king and Theseus could spend the rest of his young adulthood regaling women with his heroic tales of slaying the Minotaur and reveling in the pleasures of a lifestyle devoted solely to hedonism while dear old dad is stuck with the responsibilities of running a kingdom. But the gods, twisted and malevolent as they are, would hear of no such turn of events. The Greek myths have endured through the millennia not because they tell happy tales, but because we are drawn to their often tragic ends. My journey as Theseus did not end with me flying the white flag as promised to signal my victory to my father. Nor did it end with Aegeus plummeting to a watery grave because I was too lazy and inconsiderate to take down the black flag. Nor did Henry Rollins beat me to death because I attempted to take down Black Flag and failed. And I never even saw the Minotaur.
Theseus met his death trying to navigate a difficult to control camera while trying to walk using the W A S D keys and stepped into some lava. This was one of the kinder deaths. Right now Theseus is sitting in that maze holding his torch, wanting to get the sword he needs to slay the Minotaur, wandering around without the aid of a thread provided by Ariadne to help navigate the maze, though she did at least leave some notes lying around. He will die from lack of water, food, and boredom. No wonder he abandoned her on his journey home. While playing this game I felt like I was lost in the labyrinth. Using a combination of a mouse, keyboard, and even an Xbox style controller there was no configuration I could find that felt natural. The camera movement was jerky and choppy (hooray for redundancy!) which gave the game a very disorienting quality. This could theoretically help create a more authentic experience with the subject matter, but all it actually did was irritate me. To be fair, that may have been an issue with my PC and not the game. However, my computer is three years old and had pretty impressive specs by 2012 standards and this is not a game that looks like it requires a top of the line machine. Most of the time I played this I just felt lost. Certain features that I have grown accustomed to in first person games such as mini maps were absent. Those are nice, but they are not necessary. The main problem is struggling with poor movement and poor camera controls. I wasn’t always sure Theseus was doing what I was trying to make him do, therefore instead of exploring the maze looking for what I need to do to advance, I was fighting with the controls trying to make Theseus do actions like looking to the side or don’t look at his feet.
The initial excitement I had when I started the game quickly dissipated after I started playing. I could not enjoy or appreciate the game because I found the experience of playing it frustrating. This game had potential, and I wanted to give it a good review. Knowing that it was made by one person is impressive, and trying to faithfully recreate a story from mythology, especially one that I am very fond of, makes me want to like it and be more forgiving of it. If you love Greek mythology or first person adventure games from the Mesozoic era (or roughly 1995 if you want to use the common calendar system) it may be worth checking out this game. I did some research on the game after I played it to see if it was universally reviled and it did have fairly split reviews. Some people seem to hate it, others like it a lot, someone else even said he enjoyed it even though it is bad. This game is not without merit. I do have respect for the lone programmer for making it, and he did have some good ideas. I do love the fact that a game about this particular myth exists and that you get to hunt the Minotaur as Theseus. However, I did not enjoy playing it and therefore cannot personally recommend it. There are other people who do, so if what I described does sound like something you would enjoy you could snag it when it ends up in a Humble Bundle or a Steam sale, but I would say there are better choices to look into than this one. Follow me on Twitter