Depths of Fear :: Knossos
Gameplay 7
Graphics 7
Sound 7

There are plenty of things that I can fault about Depths of Fear, but at the end of the day and I had a lot of fun playing the game and it kept me hooked right to the end which is all that matters. It is an impressive piece of work considering that it was made by only one person and definitely provides a unique and memorable challenge. The excellent atmosphere and addictive gameplay makes it worth the effort.

Gameplay: A nice atmospheric blend of stealth and action.

Graphics: A little rough, especially the animations, but this doesn’t detract too much from the experience.

Sound: Great creature sounds and a very nice synthesizer based soundtrack

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Depths of Fear :: Knossos

Developer: Dirigo Games | Publisher: Digital Tribe | Release Date: 2014 | Genre: Action / Adventure / Indie | Website: Official Website | Purchase: Steam

Playing as the legendary Greek hero and son of Poseidon, Theseus, you find yourself tossed into the labyrinth deep underneath the city of Knossos. Your goal is to survive and ultimately slay the Minotaur that stalks the dark hallways. Before you will be able to do so however you must first face and defeat the other mythical creatures that stand in your way as only with their medallions will you be able to unlock the magical sword needed to complete your quest.

Depths of Fear is an action title, played out in first person, where the focus is very much on stealth. Starting out from a central hub you have to take on mythical creatures like the Satyr, Cerberus, Centaur, Manticore, Griffin, Medusa and Hydra, each of which is prowling around in their own little lair. When I first started the game I ran into the Satyr lair sword in hand and ready to lay some smack down God of War style. The Satyr however, gave a horrific scream when it spotted me and then proceeded to disembowel my character before I could even swing my club more than a few times. It very quickly became apparent that the Han Solo approach of attempting a straight fight was not going to work and sneaking around is a much better plan.

Your mission on each level is to find a golden key and then locate the trapdoor that it opens in order to go down to the next level. The big bad creature that patrols the level is invulnerable so your best bet is to stick to the shadows and stay out of their way. Lesser creatures like skeletons, zombies and even ants are also abound, but thankfully these small fries can be killed. You’ll want to be quick and efficient about it though, as you don’t want to attract the attention of the big boss creature. After three levels of this you finally get to face the boss baddie in a one-on-one arena battle which involves grabbing the medallion that makes it immortal and then tricking the creature into taking a bath in some lava.

The levels in Depths of Fear are procedurally generated so if you die and restart a level it is never the same. Sometimes finding the exit and key is easy and sometimes all the odds feel stacked against you. The levels are generally very dark and while you have a torch for light it is always a risk using it. I have on a few occasions managed to set some random table or chair on fire when whipping out my torch and then lost my weapon in the ensuing bonfire which then drew the not so friendly resident mythical creature towards the sudden inferno. These encounters generally did not end well for Theseus. Sticking to the darkness is also not always very effective as you tend to fall down pits, walk into traps or step on the tail of random monsters which once again is not good for Theseus, or my weak heart.

The gold coins that you may find during levels can be used to upgrade your arsenal from a shop run by Daedalus, the poor fool who built the labyrinth and was left there after it was completed. He doesn’t’ have a whole lot to say, but if you need blades, clubs, tridents, crossbows or spears all you need to do is visit him between levels with enough cash in hand. Due to the procedural nature of the game you can also collect weapons during levels, but these are lost when you die, whereas purchased items is stored on a weapon rack that you can access between levels to equip yourself for the battle ahead. Apart from coins you will also find books which grant you wisdom that can be exchanged for some once off favor such as lightening, illumination or speed at one of the many statues that dot the levels. Then there are the potions which are a gamble as you never know what they will do until you swig one. They can either poison you or provide something like a speed boost or night vision so it is up to you to decide if it is worth the risk.

While the game has a ton of atmosphere, it unfortunately also has some technical issues, which is no surprise considering it is the work of just one person. Ladders would regularly shoot my character up into the air when I stepped on them, enemies frequently get stuck on corners and there is a fair amount of clipping going on as well. The graphics, while nice, is not exactly cutting edge either and the animations are very stiff. Some filters help to improve the look and feel of the game plus the fact that you always play in near darkness also help to mask some of the visual flaws.

I quite liked the audio in the game with the sounds made by the creatures standing out as particularly impressive and creepy. The strange synthesizer based soundtrack also gives the game a very unique atmosphere. The game features no voice acting, but this isn’t a problem as you don’t really encounter anyone worth talking to, and all information is relayed to you via scrolls or books. I found the keyboard and mouse controls to be perfectly adequate for playing the game, but a patch for controller support is in the works as I am writing this. About the only complaint I have about the controls is that it is a nuisance to hold down the crouch button while sneaking around and I would have preferred that it is something that can be toggled on and off.

It would be a mistake to overlook Depths of Fear because of its flaws as it is a very compelling experience. I had a lot of fun sneaking around the labyrinth and despite frequent deaths I always found myself giving it another shot until I finally dispatched the Minotaur. The low price means the game already offers great value for money, which is further enhanced by the endless mode, which challenges you to see how deep you can go down the labyrinth and survive in one life. Overall I have no qualms recommending the game and as it appears to be a labor of love for the developer I am sure he will continue to update it to smooth out all the wrinkles.

*Review originally published April 2014.

System Requirements

  • OS: Win Vista / Win 7, 8
  • Processor: 2.0GHz x86/64/Intel Core 2 Duo E6750 2.66 GHz / AMD Athlon II X2 245e
  • Memory: 2 GB RAM
  • Graphics: 128MB GForce 6600 or better
  • DirectX: Version 9.0
  • Hard Drive: 2 GB available space
  • Sound Card: DirectX compatible sound card
  • OS: Win Vista / Win 7, 8
  • Processor: 2.0GHz x86/64
  • Memory: 4 GB RAM
  • Graphics: 256MB GForce 8600 or better
  • DirectX: Version 9.0
  • Hard Drive: 4 GB available space
  • Sound Card: DirectX compatible sound card
  • OS: Snow Leopard 10.6.3 | 10.6/10.8/10.9
  • Processor: 2 ghz
  • Memory: 2 GB RAM
  • Graphics: OpenGL 2.0 compatible graphics card, 258 MB video memory
  • Hard Drive: 3000 MB available space

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