Preview: Journey for Elysium – An Adventure in Greek Mythology

A solid direction for Mantis Games' puzzle adventure.

Several virtual reality (VR) videogames have utilised ancient Greek mythology for their inspiration, as it can be a treasure trove of iconic beasts, vengeful gods, and stunning architecture. The latest comes from Flemish studio Mantis Games, with a bold narrative-driven experience called Journey for Elysium.

Journey for Elysium

Making use of the HTC Vive Pro’s improved visual output, the first striking design feature is that the entire videogame is in black and white. Whilst this is nothing new – many other titles have used a reduced colour palette to great effect – the look still adds a certain feel and atmosphere that’s difficult to reproduce any other way. It’s certainly not creepy, with the demo areas begin mostly outside, more a stark, almost ethereal look to the experience, as if you were playing through an ancient dream.

As mentioned Journey for Elysium has been inspired by Greek and Roman mythology while creating its own fictional story. You play an unnamed warrior who has died on the battlefield, now finding themselves on a boat in Penumbra, hovering between life and death. To obtain redemption and reach Elysium there are a myriad of challenges and puzzles to complete as you head down the river.

The short demo displayed at Gamescom 2018 began right at the start of this journey, allowing attendees to get used to the smooth locomotion system which was set as default. It worked perfectly well coupled with snap rotation. Those who prefer teleportation weren’t catered for in the demo but the final experience will have the feature the team noted.

Starting in a cave, the short walk down to the river and the boat – which is a central part of the experience – was dotted with golden coins (the only colour in the videogame) which would come into play later on but not in the demo unfortunately. There will be a loot system in place for Journey for Elysium, just not at this time.

Journey for Elysium

Jumping onto the boat it’s very much an upper body workout with a double paddle with which to row the boat over to the next location. Journey for Elysium continues this physical, room-scale gameplay throughout the demo, as there are ladders to climb giant towers with switches on, or rocky walls to traverse. Thankfully, even at this early stage those mechanics work well, being able to grab ledges as if you’re some free climbing master, with a nice solid grip each time.

As for the puzzles they were primarily environmental in this gameplay session, flicking switches or firing flaming arrows at targets. Nothing particularly taxing yet grand in their design, utilising the locations as extensively as possible to make Journey for Elysium much more of a spectacle.

As Mantis Games’ first VR title Journey for Elysium already looks very promising. The 15-20 minute gameplay session didn’t reveal any further story details, and there were still further mechanics to unearth. The visuals already look very eye catching, and the central boat mechanics hold up enough that they don’t feel too finicky. Let’s just hope the content is there to flesh out the experience.

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