By Michael Fontanini / March 20th, 2015
|Title||Depths of Fear: Knossos|
|Release Date||April 24, 2014|
|Genre||Indie, Action, Adventure, First-Person, Horror|
Half-man, half-bull, this is the terrible beast known in Greek mythology as the Minotaur. It is a horror created by Pasiphaë, the wife of King Minos of Crete, who ruled from the Palace of Knossos. King Minos, challenged to prove his divine parentage, asked for a sign from Poseidon, the God of the Sea. In response, a white bull emerged from the sea, and King Minos liked it so much that he decided to keep it, rather than sacrifice it back to the gods. He sacrificed an ordinary bull in its place instead, but the gods saw his deceit to them and were angered. As punishment, Poseidon caused Pasiphaë, to fall in love with the white bull. From her union with the bull, the Minotaur was born.
King Minos had a labyrinth built underground to hide away the Minotaur, a task given to the master craftsman, Daedalus. However, King Minos also had a sinister use for the beast, in the form of periodic sacrifices of young Athenians. He demanded periodic tributes of young men and maidens from Athens after his son had died while in their safe keeping. The young men and women would be thrown into the labyrinth, sacrificed to the Minotaur. This was until Theseus, son of King Aegeus of Athens, chose to be one of those tributes.
This is where you enter the story and your adventure in Depths of Fear: Knossos begins. As Theseus himself, you will enter the labyrinth and face the Minotaur. Before you can take out the Minotaur, though, you will have to best seven other monsters in battle first (such as Cerberus, Satyr, Centaur, Medusa, Manticore, Griffin and the Hydra). You will encounter many non-boss monsters during your quest, as well.
The gameplay in Depths of Fear: Knossos is composed of traversing randomly-generated floors in the labyrinth. The levels are often very dark, but contain light areas, as well. You can see in the image above that your torch throws off a dim light. The darkness feels excessive at times, as you’d be able to see a bit better if you were in this environment for real. This is a very minor issue, though.
Once thrown down into the labyrinth by King Minos, you find yourself in the hub area. Connected to it are eight various sets of labyrinths for you to traverse. Each one has its own boss monster who patrols the floors in that area. You can’t just kill it. though (well, you can, but it will just respawn soon after). You must first get through three randomly-generated floors of maze-like passages and rooms while trying not to be spotted by the boss monster as it patrols. The fourth floor is a boss battle room where you will finally do battle with the boss that has tried to keep you from getting this far. Should you be victorious, you gain that monster’s medallion. You need all eight medallions to free the legendary sword from its stone sheath (shown above).
You will also find a small library and armory in the hub area. There is a window in the middle where you can ring a bell to speak to Daedalus, who is being held in the labyrinth against his will. He has a number of weapons that you can buy from him using gold coins you find during your exploration in the dark, winding tunnels. The bulk of your time in Depths of Fear: Knossos is spent exploring randomly-generated floors of the labyrinth.
Just to the right of the area in the image above is a door that will unlock after you defeat your first boss. This door conceals an extra game mode in Depths of Fear called the “Unknown Depths,” which is essentially an endless mode. Your goal is to traverse as many randomly-generated floors as you can before you finally die. A parchment on the wall beside the door records the deepest you’ve managed to get in this mode. This mode has a bit of roguelike style mixed in, as dying means you start all over on your next run through the Unknown Depths. You can even take the legendary sword into the Unknown Depths, too, once you have freed it from its stone sheath.
The music and ambient sounds help make the tunnels and rooms feel a bit spookier. The game’s description mentions slaughtering the Minotaur or learning the meaning of fear trying. The game really isn’t too scary, though. The one thing that will put you on edge at times is hearing the sound of a boss monster nearby and hoping it doesn’t find you. The game’s visuals aren’t bad, either, as you can see. They may not be super HD, but they are gritty and detailed.
However, the game does have its share of bugs. Probably the worst bug would be getting stuck in geometry, which forces you to open the pause menu and restart the current floor. A recent update made this bug much less likely to occur, but it is still somewhat common. Monsters will occasionally get stuck in things, too. Other bugs include enemies magically seeing you when they shouldn’t be able to on occasion, level exit stairs spawning under a piece of solid floor, making the level unbeatable (and forcing you to restart that floor yet again) and the game crashing every time I try to close out of it.
The level generator could use a bit of work, as well. You will see holes in the level sometimes and stuff not lined up very well fairly commonly. You may also encounter decorations like torches or tables sitting half over a lava pit. This tends to break the immersion quite a bit. Combined with the bugs mentioned above, all of this makes the game feel like beta software. If you like the Greek mythology theme and, more importantly, dungeon exploration, you may well enjoy the game in spite of these problems. Hopefully the developer will continue improving the game for a long time to come.
Depths of Fear: Knossos fell a bit short of my expectations. It’s a very interesting idea for a game, and I like it, but it feels very unpolished. In spite of the issues, I still enjoyed playing through the game. As far as difficulty goes, it isn’t super hard, but some boss monsters can be annoying at times (looking at you, Griffin!). You could beat the game in a day if you play it enough (less than 10 hours, most likely), as it isn’t super long, but it isn’t overly short, either. The Unknown Depths mode can add more time, as well, and the game’s most difficult achievement is in this mode. Overall, Depths of Fear: Knossos is a cool concept for a game, but it falls short due to its many bugs that persist even though the game has been out for nearly a year now.
Review Copy Provided by Publisher
Depths of Fear :: KnossosDirigo GamesMinotaurTheseus