Wednesday, 24 February 2016

Review - Depths of Fear: Knossos

Depths of Fear: Knossos brings Greek Mythology and in particular, the tale of the Minotaur and Theseus, into gaming. Taking the shoes of Theseus, the son of Poseidon, you are pushed, literally, into a labyrinth of monsters. Your aim is to kill the Minotaur, but standing in-between you and the half bull, half man creature is a maze housing seven other mythological beasts, such as Cerberus and a Satyr. Developed by a one man team, you must loot, hide and fight your way through the labyrinth’s eight mazes, and face the horror of the Minotaur.
Visual Style

Whilst perhaps not the strongest title in the visual department, the game does not provide great disappointment either. A largely light brown pallet is frequently splattered with other colours, but the most standout aspect of the visuals is the lighting. A dark blue darkness sets an eerie tone, one which helps make the occasionally piercing light of a torch or the exit, or even the red gaze of Minotaur, look all the better.

Environments themselves largely consist of brick or cave walls. Whilst this is fitting for the game, it means that the chambers can start to feel similar to one another, as though you’re adventuring through the same place over and over.

The game is spilt into eight chambers; each of which you will have to tackle before going head to horns with the Minotaur. Upon entering a chamber, you will have to proceed through three levels before facing off against its overseer. Sounds easy, until you realise that the chambers’ deadly mythical creature is wondering around each level. If it sees you, it will hunt you. To move onto the next level, you need to find a key, and dash to the exit. Thus begins a game of cat and mouse.

The mythical creatures, whilst differing in appearance, are largely similar when it comes to their means of killing you. They are all dangerous up close, and a few, such as Medusa with a bow, provide ranged attacks. Their differences lie in their unique abilities, such as the Hydra being able to submerge its body underwater, or the Centaurs charge. These are enough to provide each creature with a unique threat, yet not enough to make them feel wholly different from one another.
Mythical villains are not the only danger. They bring with them a range of smaller creatures, such as zombies and my personal favourite, giant ants. These may be less of a threat, but can prove a danger to unwary players. Many traps also litter the labyrinth, such as spiked floors and fire churning towers. These add an extra level of danger, or an annoyance if you’re not watching your step.

Often, the keys required for progress are held with trapped rooms. Things such as spiked walls closing in and ants appearing from moulds in the ground provide a welcome challenge. They make working through them and grabbing the golden key all that more rewarding.

Procedurally generated levels are an important aspect here. If you die, you will not be entering into the same level layout. Besides the occasional ladder going into lava, this works to ease the repetitiveness of the levels, and quickly offers an alternative to a death inducing layout.

Ultimately game-play comes down to either hiding or running, or perhaps a bit of both. You can put out your torch, creep through the darkness and hide away as wardrobes pop up. Or, as I quickly discovered, you can run through a level, dodging creatures to the grab the key, and dash to the exit. Once you figure out the tactic to destroying the boss creatures, the game becomes even easier, resulting in boss fights becoming nothing more than a brief encounter.

Depths of Fear: Knossos bring plenty of creatures, traps and options into its game play, but all too quickly I found myself turning to running through the chambers, easily completing them. Being able to use this tactic in itself did ruin my time in the labyrinth, the problem is that game play differs very little between levels, quickly growing repetitive.


The game contains no multiplayer. One is not needed as this could detract from the horror aspects, and greatly reduce the challenge of the game. Although, a co-op mode could make for a fun addition, perhaps consisting of seeing who can survive the labyrinth the longest.


The time spent being chased and hunted by the creatures meant that hatred formed towards them, but primarily in a good, nemesis forming way, that you want to get payback on these monsters for being on your heels. It makes the boss battle feel more personal, and satisfying upon victory. Sadly, this kind of link and immersion with the bosses is absent from the rest of the game, often feeling as though I was just jumping into a game and rushing through its world. I feel items such as books are a missed opportunity, only offering a tiny bit of text which fails to immerse you in the game. If you’re looking for a story focused, and fleshed out, world, you won’t find it here.

Life Span

Your time in the labyrinth will vary depending on how you tackle it. If you run past the creatures with the sole focus of finishing, you can be done in a few hours. If you take your time, collect the many gold pieces and books to be found, and sneak your way through, the game can be extended for many more hours. After my first play through I found myself jumping in for a few rounds in the labyrinth, a testament to the ease at which the game can be picked up and played. Once you have slain the Minotaur, there is still a challenge to be found. An endless chamber, which throws a range of creatures at you, puts to you the test of seeing how deep you can get. For those that enjoy the game, this can provide a longing extension to the labyrinth, and a real challenge. The game can be completed in a few short hours, yet plenty is there for those that enjoy it and it’s easy to jump back in for a quick adventure.


Depths of Fear: Knossos is not a standout game visually, and whilst it does bring a number of game play mechanics together for choice, it can often grow repetitive. Yet, if you get stuck in there’s a lot of fun is to be had. I found myself happily jumping back in, even after I finished the game for another play-through.

It’s got its faults, and it may be a bit short, but it also offers a great deal of enjoyment for those that get stuck in and it’s quite replay-able. If you’re looking for a little bit of horror mixed with Greek Mythology, and a game you can just dip into for a bit, then Depths of Fear: Knossos is a fitting choice.


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