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April 3, 2016 | by  | in Games |
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Medusa’s Labyrinth

★★★★

Developer & Publisher: Guru Games

Platform: Windows PC

 

Here’s a rule of thumb to live by: don’t lock your daughter in a catacomb. Otherwise, she may turn into Medusa.

Medusa’s Labyrinth is a Steam Greenlight game, released this year. The game is a short first-person journey through a dilapidated, supernaturally-ransacked Ancient Greece, where monsters now roam in the darkened pits of catacombs, and at least one ancient temple rests in ruins. A path of parchment documents lead you straight to the said temple. These you continue to find as you go deeper into the tunnels. Through them, we learn the story of a young girl trapped by her worried father in the catacombs, and just what has happened to destroy this place.

When the game begins, you’re outside. The sky is purple-blue, the moon emanates, big and pale, above a temple complex. There’s an unearthly choir singing in the background, a bunch of broken amphora, and a bunch of still-burning lamps strewn about—but nothing particularly scary afoot. Sure, it’s a bit creepy and awe-inspiring casually walking through a deteriorating courtyard, past a blackened man, frozen where he stands, but that’s cool. It’s a build up to fear. When you get into the tunnels however, you become constantly aware of your surroundings, moving deliberately with accord to strategy.

So what’s the goal? Get out alive. Granted, this is difficult when you’re being tracked by monsters in meandering tunnels, armed only with a few arrows and a torch that you keep having to replace. You have no HUD display, which means you get full immersion. This is, of course, typical of the best stealth games on the market. It’s rather astonishing that Medusa’s Labyrinth is available free on Steam, its design is spectacular for its budget, even with some bugs. It has earned fantastic feedback from players, resulting in Guru Games continuing work on Medusa as critique comes in. Guru hopes to refine the project to realize its full extent as they originally conceived.

Medusa’s Labyrinth draws from various Greco-pagan myths. First is Daedalus’ Labyrinth, which was an impossible maze fashioned by the master inventor Daedalus. His son was an idiot, and fell to his death after flying too close to the sun. That aside, Daedalus is primarily known for the labyrinth he constructed for King Minos: which, awkwardly, was to house the Minotaur; a half-man, half-bull creature, born to Minos’ wife and the white bull of Poseidon. But hey, it was Minos’ fault. He’s the one who kept the bull instead of sacrificing it to Poseidon like he was supposed to. That’s the general law of Greek deities—they’re just like humans, lustful, easy to anger, and vengeful. So, piss off a God? Get cursed, possibly for eternity.

It’s this law and this particular instance of it which Medusa revolves around. Medusa is one of the Gorgon sisters and has a head of snakes for hair. If you see her horrible visage, you turn to stone. This terrible creature is also terribly beautiful; transformed from a fair-haired, roseate-cheeked priestess of Athena after allowing herself to be wooed by Poseidon, she was doomed to have her best assets turned into her worst. How’s that for karma? Well, it’s a pity for Medusa, but at least we can start to see where the two tales might coincide. Medusa’s Labyrinth creatively intertwines the concepts inherent in these legends, creating a unique story that speaks to history. I haven’t included everything from the two stories, so there’s a lot more for classics buffs to discover; you’ll have fun putting those pieces together.

 

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