Theseus

Game review by
David Chapman, Common Sense Media
Theseus Game Poster Image
VR take on Greek myth gets lost in a labyrinth of issues.

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this game.

Educational Value

Loosely based on Greek myth of Theseus and the labyrinth. Scratches surface of story only, taking plenty of liberties for the sake of gaming; can generate interest in learning more about Greek mythology.

Positive Messages

No positive messages, just challenge to overcome labyrinth and defeat creatures inside, including massive Minotaur.

Positive Role Models & Representations

Although Theseus is a hero in Greek mythology, he's the protagonist here, so not much character development. You start to get a little understanding of his situation, role, but never enough to build any connection.

Ease of Play

Simple controls, though combat can be unforgiving. Odd choice in perspective for VR game is disorienting, disconnecting player from experience.

Violence

Combat opportunities few and far between, but when they happen, they're pretty intense. Players fight for their lives against giant creatures, armed with little more than a sword, torch, or luck.

Sex
Language
Consumerism
Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Theseus is a downloadable virtual reality adventure game available for the PlayStation VR. The game is loosely based on the Greek myth of the Minotaur and the labyrinth, though with creative changes from the original story. While the controls are relatively easy to learn, the combat can be a bit unforgiving. Combat doesn't happen frequently, but it can be intense, considering you only have a sword and a torch to defend yourself. Also, the developer's decision to use a third-person perspective in a VR environment can be uncomfortable and disorienting.

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What's it about?

THESEUS is an immersive virtual reality adventure based on the Greek myth of the Minotaur and the labyrinth of Crete. In this new twist on the classic story, you take on the role of Theseus, the hero charged with defeating the challenges of the labyrinth. Waking up alone and stranded with little understanding of what's happening, you see a brilliant pillar of light shining in the distance, and a voice beckons for you to reach it. This won't be a simple task, though, since you're not the only living thing currently within the walls of the labyrinth. But of all the strange creatures and monsters that lurk in the shadows, none are more deadly or more massive than the warden of this prison, the Minotaur. Can you evade the beast and make your escape? Or will you remain trapped within the labyrinth's walls, hunted for all eternity? 

Is it any good?

While this take on a classic Greek myth is intriguing, the technical issues and odd perspective kind of ruins the gameplay. With most VR games, the focus is on bringing players closer to the action so that they feel like they're living the experience. Theseus takes a completely different approach, pulling players back from the action, almost making them more like bystanders in their own adventure. The decision to forgo the usual first-person perspective in favor of a shifting third-person view is somewhat awkward and disorienting. It makes some sense in terms of giving a better view of the rooms and corridors in the labyrinth, making it a bit easier to spot certain clues or solve certain puzzles. But since you still control Theseus' actions from a point of view more akin to a security camera, at best you feel like some sort of puppet master making a marionette dance for its life. At worst, the weird disconnect can actually intensify that feeling of vertigo that sometimes accompanies the VR experience. Bluntly put, there's just no reason for VR to have been added to this game.

Technical issues (and a giant Minotaur) aren't the only problems facing Theseus. Despite the game having a surprisingly sharp level of detail and visual appeal, it's hard to actually get invested in the game. Sneaking around the labyrinth begins to feel repetitive relatively quick. And those few times you are forced to fight against creatures, you have to nail the combat without fail or get punished harshly for your efforts. It's a frustrating headache to have to start over because you happened to mistime a swipe with your torch. Of course, it's hard to complain about starting over when the entire game takes only a few hours to complete. Ultimately, Theseus feels less like a full adventure and more like an overextended tech demo.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about VR technology. How does VR help to create a more immersive experience for users? What are some ways that virtual reality technology can be used outside of entertainment?

  • Talk about mythology. What are the origins of the heroes from Greek mythology? How do these classic stories continue to influence the modern world?

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