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Theseus (Review with Spoilers)

Zenbane
Level 15

I recently spent nearly 4 hours playing through Theseus:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UBNaSNPXyoU


https://www.oculus.com/experiences/rift/1297659106991992/

For those who do not know the story of Theseus and the Minotaur, here's a fun breakdown:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=riEM9vtRLm4


The Good
Theseus has some very impressive artwork, and a compelling story.

Spoiler of the entire story including the secret ending:


In the game, you are a warrior who dies multiple times and are brought back to life by the light of Ariadne. During the first playthrough the Player is compelled to follow her advice and try to break the cycle of dying/resurrecting/battling by defeating the Minotaur once and for all. 

Upon defeating the Minotaur you find out that even he will be resurrected and you two will still continue to battle each other endlessly. As this revelation is unveiled, Ariadne reveals her obsession with being locked in this cycle with you as well. At which point she kills you to start the cycle anew.

Upon your death the game drops a hint that the "truth" still lies in the Labyrinth (thus the second playthrough).

When playing through the game again you realize that you should probably collect the essence of these dead bodies lying around (they are all 'you' and contain your essence and memories). One in particular is a bit hard to spot during the first playthrough. Now that you're looking for them specifically, you'll spot the dead body that unlocks more parts of the Labyrinth. If you manage to find all of them and defeat the Minotaur (again), you end up getting a slightly different ending sequence as well as the "secret ending."

The new ending sequence shows you who you really are in the game. You are not Theseus at all. You are just someone who was in car accident and have been asleep. You awaken to the voice of what I presume is the nurse; and her voice is oddly very much familiar to that of Ariadne. I do have a gripe at this point because this secret ending has no visuals. The screen goes black and you just  hear the sound and voices of a doctor's office. When you wake up, you know it because the nurse said it... but you never see anything. Then the game ends.

I probably would have enjoyed the story twist at the end more if I hadn't already seen the movie, Vanilla Sky (thanks Tom Cruise). The ending to Theseus is basically the ending to Vanilla Sky.

https://youtu.be/fGuR4GOV5L0?t=183

I mean that most literally too since both have the main character's mind flash with memories of their real life followed by women declaring their awakening. Also, both stories involve a car accident.

My favorite thing about this game is that it took me back to my first experience with Diablo (the original game by Blizzard Entertainment).

When I was holding my sword I had instant nostalgia with my Warrior in Diablo:

pq56pbzddtvc.jpg

cqx7gwc770zr.png



Even the Minotaur had quite the resemblance to The Dark Lord:

zlfg1ago89il.jpg

nr90jaib8enr.jpg


I consider the Diablo style flashbacks a huge plus.

As far as the Virtual Reality implementation goes... Theseus does an amazing job of making the player feel present (despite the fact that this game is currently exclusive to the Gamepad).

The up-close-and-personal moments with the Minotaur are quite spectacular:

ug0o9zkml076.jpg


The Bad
There are only 2 enemies in the game:
  • The spider-mutants that are killed using fighting combo's.
  • The Minotaur which is repeatedly battled in a more puzzle-centric way.

The enemy encounters are fun and somewhat unique, but there's no additional variety offered in the 1.5 hour experience. The fact that the game only gives the player a 3+ hour experience using "multiple playthroughs" is also a negative. I don't mind a bit of repetition, but it can't be the underlying foundation of an otherwise short experience.


The game also manages to make the player feel as if they are playing a Tutorial that never ends. As expected, the Player will receive instructions and in-game notifications early on. But that never really ends and the gameplay never evolves. What you experience in the first 30 minutes is pretty much what you'll experience throughout the game.


The Ugly
The game is too short for the price. In hindsight, the game really can only be played once since in its current state there isn't much of a reward for the second playthrough and unlocking of the main secret. Plus, the "secret ending" is audio-only with the player looking at a black void. That's just... wrong.

Currently the game is priced at $19.99, and while I enjoyed
my experience I must say that this price is too high for what players
get. The first playthrough of the game is about 1.5 hours total. The
game is very much made to entice the player to go through it again (it's
part of the story). The second playthrough takes another 1.5 hours -
even though you know the puzzle secrets at this point, there are new
hidden areas revealed.

So we are talking 3 hours total with
roughly 1 hour being a repeat performance. I normally am very forgiving
of pricing, but this game should really be somewhere around $9.99 max. I
purchased it during a sale for $13.99 which isn't too bad.


Conclusion
At a lower price I would recommend this game for anyone who loves the classic Hack n Slash genre. There are multiple "aha moments" and great nostalgia to be had with Theseus. And while the story clearly borrows from, Vanilla Sky, it is still a rather compelling thing to experience in VR.

10 REPLIES 10

Log_a_Frog
Level 7
Eeee awww were awee.. Here comes the fun police

DNACowboy
Level 5
Thanks for the insightful review, I was intrigued by the game as I've had a lifelong interest in Greek mythology and your comments helped me make my decision much easier.:-) 
Who is John Galt?

RuneSR2
Level 15
knmh8q5y7tkq.jpg

The game play is truly awesome - I consider it one of the great Rift games. Definitely 9/10. As shown in Zenbane's first post in this thread, this is a 3rd person action adventure with usually fixed surroundings (like in Chronos) - and I might add that the game play is much like the original 3dfx Voodoo Graphics Tomb Raider from 1996.

https://youtu.be/W6uTvry_YNk

Remember that not much did happen in Tomb Raider - it was primarily about exploring the world - but yes, you did encounter some wolves before meeting a truly terrifying opponent. Theseus is like a true copy of such awesome game play, like you don't get many different opponents, but the ones you get are second to none. In the start the game plays like an interactive movie, but the peace won't last.

0d5hr6z9lh01.jpg

Someone who reads this thread might tease me if I mention super sampling  😞  😉  But I can't help it  B) - I need to write something about super sampling, but later - wife says I have to go shopping now  :s



9lnub5ns8yv1.jpg

Valve Index & Oculus Rift CV1, Asus Strix OC RTX™ 3090, i9-10900K (5.3Ghz), 32GB 3200MHz, 8TB
"Ask not what VR can do for you, but what you can do for VR"

RuneSR2
Level 15
I measured the fps results below in a not too busy place in-game, which I believe shows common performance - at least on my rig (see my sig). I maxed out shadows and textures, these settings didn't seem to impact performance (much). But super sampling was like dancing with an angry grown African elephant, much like shown here  B)

zwnlt3csgehq.jpg

Performance in frames per second (GTX 1080):

Super sampling 1.0 = 90 fps (solid)
Super sampling 1.2 = 45 fps  :#
Super sampling 1.4 = 45 fps
Super sampling 1.6 = 45 fps
Super sampling 1.8 = 45 fps
Super sampling 2.0 = 45 fps

vn73vtgg7orz.jpg

It's one of the most beautiful games on the Rift, even better than Hellblade IMHO, but only when using very high levels of super sampling (ss). Unfortunately it's also one of the most hardware demanding games, possibly even more damanding than Seeking Dawn. I'm using a heavily oc'ed GTX 1080 and i7 7700K and I just barely get 90 fps ss 1.0. Ss 1.2 gives me 45 fps (asw is your friend, not your enemy! 😉 ), but ss 2.0 looks astonishingly awesome and still gives me 45 fps - so it's basically "90 fps + super-blurry ss 1.0" or "45 fps asw super-beautiful awesome-depth-clarity ss 2.0". Note that 45 fps is not a a big problem, because only you and your opponents move - usually (surroundings are typically fixed). I greatly enjoyed playing this game using ultra-sharp semi-photo-realistic ss 2.0 (asw 45 fps), in this game the difference between ss 1.0 and 2.0 is like night and day (I used Oculus Tray Tool (OTT) to set ss. OTT will completely override all in-game ss settings, thus OTT ss is not multiplied with in-game ss like in Seeking Dawn).

rslx3ampzq1l.jpg

This is a must-have for Rift owners, especially if you have the hardware to make the game truly come alive - and yes, RTX 2080 Ti is not at all wasted on this game 😉 The game is just a 998 MB download, but textures look better than many 20+ GB games (admitted, Mage's Tale still wins). It would be great if the devs could optimize this game much more - I get the feeling that quite a lot could be done in this regard (this game is about twice as hardware demanding as Lone Echo if you want 90 fps).
Can't wait to put the kids to sleep, so I can enjoy some quality time with my favorite Minotaur  🙂  

PS. Do let me know if someone has much better performance, I'm using Forceware 417.35, it's baffling that this game is so hardware demanding (especially when PS4 optimized), although it still plays great. 

Valve Index & Oculus Rift CV1, Asus Strix OC RTX™ 3090, i9-10900K (5.3Ghz), 32GB 3200MHz, 8TB
"Ask not what VR can do for you, but what you can do for VR"

LZoltowski
Volunteer Moderator
Volunteer Moderator
@RuneSR2 heh our resident SuperSampling specialist 🙂

@Zenbane as always, a masterful review. A pleasure to read.
Core i7-7700k @ 4.9 Ghz | 32 GB DDR4 Corsair Vengeance @ 3000Mhz | 2x 1TB Samsung Evo | 2x 4GB WD Black
ASUS MAXIMUS IX HERO | MSI AERO GTX 1080 OC @ 2000Mhz | Corsair Carbide Series 400C White (RGB FTW!) 

Be kind to one another 🙂

Zenbane
Level 15
Thanks for posting all that @RuneSR2

Man, your screenshots are way sexier than mine! lol

RedRizla
Level 15
I'll wait for the price to drop..

Zenbane
Level 15

RedRizla said:

I'll wait for the price to drop..





RuneSR2
Level 15

RedRizla said:

I'll wait for the price to drop..


RTX 2080 Ti or the game?  😄

(- sorry for the bad humor, I couldn't help it  🙂 )

Valve Index & Oculus Rift CV1, Asus Strix OC RTX™ 3090, i9-10900K (5.3Ghz), 32GB 3200MHz, 8TB
"Ask not what VR can do for you, but what you can do for VR"