Games that divide the gaming community have always interested me. It’s that same interest that made me enjoy our Into the Red feature so much. Seeing what people saw in horribly reviewed games was a study in people as much as it was in games. Depths of Fear: Knossos is not only a game I see dividing the people that play it into two camps, it’s a game that makes clear why people will either like it or hate it. A game that brings the horror genre into a Greek environment is obviously trying to standout and show the world something different. Sadly, there are unavoidable hindrances that need to be addressed.
The most recent game that can be compared to Depths of Fear: Knossos is Eldritch. In Eldritch you fight against Lovecraftian monsters while in Knossos you’re going up against satyrs, Medusa and other Greek monstrosities. The first-person exploration is the main similarity between the two games but Knossos brings a much different sense of fear accomplished by its setting. The game is set in an ever-changing labyrinth filled with horrible monsters that wish for nothing more than to end your existence. The strength of this setting is that each boss fight starts with a race through the labyrinth after the monster discovers you or vice versa. I won’t go into detail as why the chase takes place, as it feels contrived and silly, but just know there is a reason for the action.
The game is not all about boss fights and chase sequences. When you’re not running from ancient Greek myths you can bulk your character up to prepare for the fight to come. Depths of Fear: Knossos offers weapons and powers to collect throughout the game but stealth, rather than brutality, always feels like the right approach. Combat, if you choose to partake in it, is a simple game of "point and click" but more often than not you’ll be overwhelmed by the sheer numbers of enemies.
Now that the good parts of the game have been discussed, it is time to delve into the darker side of Knossos. The “darker side” meaning the graphics, sound production, gameplay, and everything else that wasn’t previously mentioned. That might be a bit harsh but there is a lot wrong with this game that needs to be addressed. To their credit, the developer has maintained an active presence within the Steam forums and is patching and updating the game constantly. I just don’t know if that’s enough. Graphically, the game doesn’t look bad, it just appears dated. The graphics won’t wow anyone with their outdated looks and the animations will likely ruin the experience for many gamers. When the satyr first saw me I laughed so hard I had to pause the game. The satyr moves as if it’s skating on ice when you finally battle the creature it has a wonderful habit of running into walls and getting itself stuck in them requiring a restart. These bugs happen throughout the game and, while funny at first, become frustrating after the umpteenth time.
Audio is a bigger part of games than most people realize. Sure, a good soundtrack in a sports game can make navigating menus more enjoyable but having the right score can bring you deeper into the experience. Having the wrong score, as Knossos teaches so well, pulls the gamer out of the experience, bludgeons them with a spiked club before throwing them back into a Greek setting filled with synthesizers and sci-fi esque music. Is the audio intentional? Probably. Does it work? Not at all. Instead, the audio does little to add to the game and does more to hinder the experience than anything else.
Glitches can be forgiven if they’re not frequent but they are, abnormal audio can add to a world if it’s done right but it isn’t, and outdated graphics can be forgiven if the gameplay is done right but it’s not done to a high enough level to outweigh the problems that are so present within the game.
Many gamers will enjoy Depths of Fear: Knossos because it’s different, it’s weird, and it’s trying something new. Others may enjoy it because moments spent in the labyrinth, especially when chased by the Minotaur itself, are just too intense and fun to pass up. However, there will be another group of gamers who will rag on this game for being outdated and broken with no actual value brought to the table. The strangest thing about Depths of Fear: Knossos, for me at least, is that I can clearly see both sides of those arguments. It’s a game that needs a tremendous amount of work before it’s anything more than a strange take on the horror genre but for now, that might be enough for a select few gamers.