Tauronos – Review
Follow Genre: Horror, Survival
Publisher: S.C. 16 BIT NIGHTS S.R.L.
Developers: cavalie_ro, S.C. 16 BIT NIGHTS S.R.L., conradproteus
Platform: PC (Steam)
Tested On: PC (Steam)

Tauronos – Review

Site Score
6.5
Good: Very Atmospheric
Bad: Too many one-hit kills
User Score
7.6
(5 votes)
Click to vote
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Rating: 7.6/10 (5 votes cast)

Everyone knows the story of Theseus and the Minotaur, an ancient epic of hero against monster. But what if Theseus was stuck in an eternal cycle of defeat, chased by the relentless Minotaur while hopelessly trying to escape the labyrinth? This is the question Tauronos asks and around which its gameplay revolves.

Story

Tauronos’ story revolves around an unnamed hero going into the aforementioned labyrinth, where he encounters the ferocious Minotaur. Running from it in a desperate attempt to regain his freedom, the hero is confronted with memories of his previous attempts and failures as he faces endless corridors and traps.

The game’s story is not particularly deep or developed, being mostly limited to the previously mentioned themes of failure and desperation. Luckily, for reasons that will be mentioned later, the game manages to create an oppressive atmosphere matching these through its visuals and sounds.

Graphics

Graphics are not really Tauronos’ strong suit. Everything in the game is made with generally stiff animations on dense pixel art graphics, which are fine at best. This style, combined with certain mechanics, makes hitboxes very hard to read. That said, the decoration used along with the aforementioned style manages to convey the atmosphere and makes the player feel lost and hopeless.

Sound

Similarly to its graphics, Tauronos’ sound is nothing too impressive. Its soundtrack is comprised of continuous drum beating which adds tension but becomes tedious. SFX are quite well made, although certain ones would’ve benefitted from higher volume. The voice acting was also a welcome surprise which, despite the very flawed delivery, certainly adds charm.

Gameplay

Tauronos’ gameplay is a horror puzzle game with a focus on exploration (or rather being lost). The core loop sees players thrown into a level, at times running from the Minotaur, some others navigating deadly traps or both at the same time.

Levels, where the Minotaur appears, have a threat bar for it, which increases over time. As this bar fills, the Minotaur gains more and more speed. As one may guess, this makes the creature deadlier when combined with its already huge damage. Luckily, in some levels the player can counteract this by closing the hatch out of which the beast emerges, reducing the bar by a level.

Those other levels, which do not have the monster’s presence, are often calmer, but a few of them are absolutely riddled with traps, making them arguably deadlier. Certain traps deal such absurd amounts of damage that the player will instantly die or have their health reduced by half or more. This, combined with the life system, does no favors to the game.

Said life system is directly related to the difficulty options, Hard and Normal modes having fewer lives and making the game completely restart upon losing them all. The easy mode on the other hand gives the player a decent amount of lives and only restarts the current chapter, making it more enjoyable. Some extra lives can also be found throughout the levels in hidden zones, along with other secrets.

There are also upgrades for the player character to be found in the levels. These range from a wider sight radius to more health, speed or stamina. Most of these require exploring the levels from side to side, which is not always possible while being chased by the Minotaur or almost dead from traps. Besides these permanent upgrades, there are also other things to find, such as healing vines.

While the deadliness of the environment (read: traps) certainly adds to the oppressive atmosphere, especially in harder difficulties, dying to a one-shot trap out of nowhere doesn’t sit well. As previously mentioned in both graphics and sound, the game would benefit from clearer hitboxes and louder sound effects for certain things, the latter especially on the giant rolling boulders.

As a neat little surprise for those interested, the game includes a map building mode. There, players can make their own labyrinthine zones riddled with traps where they can be chased by their own minotaurs.

Conclusion

Tauronos is an entertaining game that definitely nails its atmosphere. Although it could do with some changes, its very low asking price of €4,99/$4.99/£3.99 makes it worth considering thanks to the content offered.

Personal Opinion

“Although Tauronos is an entertaining game I wouldn’t recommend any non-masochists to play it on Hard. Normal is still possible without suffering much, but Hard mode turns an already tense game into an absolutely butt-clenching experience. Being limited to 5 lives while half the traps in the game kill in one or two hits is not amusing. Besides that, about 2 or 3 hours can be taken out of the base experience, without achievement hunting or using the level editor. Those playing it in Hard mode (or Normal mode without being careful) will more likely than not see that time exponentially increase thanks to the full resets.”

VN:F [1.9.22_1171]
Rating: 7.6/10 (5 votes cast)
VN:F [1.9.22_1171]
Rating: +2 (from 2 votes)
Tauronos - Review, 7.6 out of 10 based on 5 ratings

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