Men slaying each other armed with little more than swords and leather sandals. Beasts with hydra arms and goat heads. Characters with names that could single-handedly win Scrabble tournaments, if names were allowed. Why hasn't Greek mythology caught on as a popular videogame theme?
It's bizarre to think World War II has been mined to the point of parody but any history beyond that is consider old, dusty and unsexy. And hell, if God of War can make ring up the sales on a certain other console (cough), then why hasn't mythology caught on?
Rise of the Argonauts deepens the mystery. It's a gripping yet simple tale of love and revenge. Jason's wife dies at the hands of an assassin belonging to the Blacktongues and refusing to accept her death, Jason then hunts down the mythical Golden Fleece that supposedly has the power bring her back to life.
Liquid Entertainment has wisely decided not to clutter his quest with sub-plots or dominant sidekicks, so you never lose focus of what this story is about.
As a result, the spotlight is firmly on Jason yet not once does he disappoint or prove less than compelling. Traditionally the Achilles heel of gaming, the script here is brilliant written and makes every conversation a joy to listen to. Stoic, moral, driven and sturdy, Jason's character is never betrayed by cheap air-punching or emo-whining.
The staunch delivery of his dialogue means that Rise Of The Argonauts might be the first ever game you'll play where dialogue isn't an invitation to mash A until you can carry on playing.
LONG TIME COMING
Rise Of The Argonauts requires patience, as it's not instantly gratifying. While some games throw their best ideas at you straight away and hope you remain dazzled until the credits fade to black, Rise Of The Argonauts didn't turn up to game development school on the How To Hook Your Gamers lesson. This game works in almost completely in reverse to the norm and starts slow while finishing strong.
Let's face it, an opening hour that has you tediously looking for parents to let them know their daughter is safe is hardly going to cause the fine denizens of internet forums worldwide to accidentally misspell their threads in sheer excitement. In short, it's not the sort of stuff that will stir your blood.
Another such example is the combat. Initially, it seems one-note button-bashing and does little to convince you better things lie ahead. Yet the combat revolves around the side-quests you complete and the deeds you receive for doing so, which can be traded to the gods for extra moves.
It would be wrong to say fighting is a complex beast that will tie your fingers into knots as you pull off combos to make Dante jealous but regardless, any first impressions are likely to be wrong.
What all this means is your first impression of the game as a whole is likely to be wrong. Rise Of The Argonauts opens in an explosive manner as you cave in the face of an assassin while the screen fades to black yet when the screen slowly stirs back to life, the weapons are put away and the parent hunting is on.
You have a walk around, you talk to people, you get a bit lost, you meander about hoping to jog your memory and remember what it is you were supposed to be doing again. It's like the life of an OAP rather than a mythological adventurer.
There might be fighting and there has to be, given the mythological theme and all, but Rise Of The Argonauts puts the emphasis on RPG over action and doesn't apologise for it. It's more Mass Effect than God of War, with Jason preferring verbal sparring to bloody combat, battles often the blood-splattered filling between thick slices of conversation.