Are you a fan of ancient Greek mythology, with heroes, monsters and bickering gods? How about choose-your-own-adventure games with different options and outcomes? If yes, then Theseus: Journey to Athens is a game you should check out.
It was created by Antiquity Studio, a US based dev consisting of a single person, Adam Delderfield, a criminal prosecutor who in his spare time creates video games based on ancient texts. The artwork and music were contracted to Klaudia Jankowska and Michael Landers respectively.
In Theseus: Journey to Athens, you play as the aforementioned mythological hero, before his trip to Crete and the widely know story of the Maze and the Minotaur. You start in his home village of Troezen and you follow his adventures towards Athens. The story is heavily rooted in classical texts like Pausanias’ Guide to Greece, Plutarch’s Life of Theseus, Apollodorus’ Bibliotheca, and shorter works and fragments such as those of Bacchylides.
The game has three different aspects, exploring, decision making and combat. First of all, the exploration. This is mainly done in classic top-down RPG mode, like the Infinity engine classics. During this you can visit different areas and start conversations with NPCs. The graphics are old-school, but do their job. The only problem was that the walking animation is a bit weird, but, with only one man at the helm, it doesn’t really matter to me.
The second part, the decision making, is where the game truly shines for me. When you enter this mode, the screen fills with text, along with an image. The events are well written and, while a bit simplistic in nature, they can affect your playthrough, even to the point of an early game over screen! Have to say that, I originally thought it would be just the city of Troezen, which I finished in 20 minutes or so, but later on I realised I did wrong choices and just died before reaching the next stage! Keep that in mind, because after each section, you get a screen about how your options changed things and that might make you think that the game ended.
The third part I would say is also the weakest, combat. It is classic turn-based combat with some skills available. There are no animations available, and it is pretty simplistic, while some of the battles should be solved via an event rather than direct combat. However, it has its purpose, providing a layer of strategy and confrontation in an otherwise text-only title.
All in all, this is an interesting title, complemented with good writing, beautiful artwork and cool music, along with a really low price (less than 10 EUR). Fans of choose-your-own-adventures and ancient Greek mythology should definitely check it out.