Steam Greenlight Landfill: Depths of Fear: Knossos

This is a review that was very long overdue. I should note that this was technically the first game I ever received a review code for back in 2014 while I was with Oprainfall. At the time my computer was a piece of shit and was unable to run the game so someone else needed to review it there instead. Given that my computer is now not a piece of shit, I decided I should play the game for myself and review it given that I got it for that purpose. So if the developers of Depths of Fear are reading this, sorry for the wait. Also sorry that I’m about to trash it in this review because I didn’t really like it.

Knossos has a fairly solid premise that could have worked if done more competently. The game is heavily based around Greek mythology and has you tasked with navigating a labyrinth and slaying a Minotaur. The only problem is that you need a special sword to do that and you need to collect 8 macguffins to do get this, each of which is guarded by another creature from Greek mythology. In addition to the Minotaur, you will also need to slay a Satyr, a Centaur, a Hydra, Medusa, a Griffin, a Manticore, and Cerberus.

Depths of Fear’s strong point comes in the setting and presentation. The story mostly takes a backseat to the gameplay but it does lend itself well to the atmosphere. While I would not say that the game is scary in the slightest, I will admit that hearing the noises made by the boss monsters does sometimes catch me by surprise. The sound effects are  mostly solid and the music is alright except for the fact that most of the chase tracks start sounding like the game crashed once you get a minute in.

In short, the presentation is not the problem… unless you consider the fact that you can’t see anything and that most of the challenge comes from wading around in the dark where you can’t so much as see a foot in front of you even with a lit torch while most enemies will see you from several feet away unless you put out your torch and thus see even less… in that case, presentation MAY be a problem.

It is rather underhanded how each of the screenshots on this game’s Steam page show well lit and visible environments and present it as if you can actually see what is going on. This is NOT what the game looks like. THIS is what you are looking at 90% of the time while playing Knossos!

This is with the torch lit.

The bad lighting would not be a problem if maybe the enemies were given the same limitation but that is not the case. Most of the boss monsters can see you from several yards away if you have your torch lit despite the fact that the torch barely even lets you see your own hands in this game. Even worse is that this doesn’t let you see hiding spots when you are being chased by these monsters; you just need to turn off the torch and hope they don’t see you.

On top of this, floors are randomly generated so you can’t even memorize the layout and get better at it. Sometimes the game will just drop you right in front of the boss monster and you will look around trying to find them only for them to sneak up on you. Then again, there are some boss monsters that pose no threat at all such as the Manticore and Hydra that you can just fend off by mashing left click and they will never even hit you. Yes each boss monster infinitely respawns but they give you a minute before they do.

To get each medallion, you need to clear three stealth stages and then fight the monster that has been stalking you in a boss fight. It sounds simple enough but of course this game fucks it up. You are never told that you need to beat three stealth stages to get the medallions, so what I did was I cleared one level for each boss monster only to find out it wasn’t enough to get the sword thingy. I didn’t realize you needed to beat three levels until I looked it up online.

Unless you’re fighting a boss that is, then you should engage the fuck out of the things that want to eat you!

What makes this even more insulting is that after you beat a level, you are sent back to the room that had the entrance to said level. This makes one think they’ve clear the level and obviously breaks immersion, but it also fucks the player over because if they leave the room with the entrance and go back to the main chamber, then counter resets and your first stage clear doesn’t count.

Gameplay is in a first person perspective and is a mix between an Elder Scrolls style action RPG and a stealth game. You don’t gain levels as you progress but you do get money to by weapons and a possible shield ring that I think makes you take less damage… hell if I know cause I did not get far enough to afford it. A major problem is that you only find money lying around on tables or from breaking pots. The goal of a level is to find a key then use it to unlock the gate while avoiding detection, so the game discourages exploration even without the issue of not being able to see anything. Considering that you need to explore to collect money, this completely defeats the point! You also lose the gold you collected in that level if you die.

You can also find books laying around that either offer you either background lore or gameplay hints, or that increase your knowledge points. Said knowledge points can be used when you find a statue that will grant you an ability. Most of them are useless “attack” spells that don’t actually do anything (I know cause I tried multiple times) but there are some fairly useful ones like one that increases you speed and another that allows you to heal yourself once. But the most useful one is, I kid you not, the one that lights up the levels! The ability to see in front of you should NOT be relegated to fucking powerup status! This option would make the game more bearable if it were not for the fact that levels were randomly generated and you need to go most levels without it!

It would be so much better if the rest of the game looked like this.

I only got to fight one boss battle and it was against the Satyr. The boss was absurdly difficult but in the cheapest way possible. The Satyr attacks using the same pattern as in the regular levels but you are given swarm after swarm of regular enemies to deal with. Did they not realize that a game heavily based on stealth is not fucking Dynasty Warriors? Forgive me for pulling a James Rolfe here, but what the fuck were they thinking???!!!

Well that is Depths of Fear for you. There was a sound premise to it and it could have been fun with some fine tuning, but all it did was push me to the depths of my patience.

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