CYOW #4: Blackout Projects

Theseus in the Dark

RPG Maker Game by Lisa Smedman, CYOW 4: Blackout, May 2021

Creator: Lisa Smedman
Exhibition: Blackout
Published: May 2021
Format: Game (RPG Maker VX Ace)
Content Warning: None

Image description: A Greek hero with javelin and shield battles a minotaur holding a javelin and dagger. The image is black-on-tan line art in the style of ancient Greek pottery.

Overview Synopsis

The tale of Theseus and the Minotaur is an ancient one. Sent to King Minos’ capital on Crete as tribute to be consumed by the bull-man known as the Minotaur, Theseus entered the labyrinth where the Minotaur dwelt, determined to kill the beast. He was aided by Minos’ daugher Ariadne, who gave Theseus a thread to unravel as he explored the labyrinth, so he could find his way out.

“Theseus in the Dark” imagines the hero Theseus without weapons. He can’t kill the Minotaur; all he can do is run. The goal of the game is to find Ariadne’s thread, then follow it to the exit.

Artist’s Statement

The inspiration for this game was the script Galv’s Visibility Range ( written for the RPG Maker engine. The script blacks out the screen, save for a circle of light centered on the player character, and is meant to simulate torchlight. It’s a perfect match for our “blackout” theme – the labyrinth through which the player travels is shrouded in darkness, and the minotaur can only be seen once he’s almost upon you.

I had originally intended to create a narrative game, but instead have created one almost entirely without words – it is the PC’s actions that create the story, which exists only in the mind of the player. I’m pleased with the result; the game is stronger as one long action sequence. The player is literally in the dark, left to ponder the motivations of Theseus, the Minotaur, and Ariadne.

How the Game was Created:

“Theseus in the Dark” was built using RPG Maker VX Ace, a game engine designed for creating simple roleplaying video games.

The Minotaur sprite is by AntumDeluge. The Greek warrior sprite is by LadyBaskerville.

The two pieces of music included in the game are from, a source of copyright-free music.

Image description: In a circle of illumination, a Greek warrior is confronted by a minotaur. Everything outside the circle of light is in total darkness. The warrior’s current hit points are indicated at the bottom left of the screenshot.


Lisa Smedman is an accomplished writer and game designer, with 23 science fiction and fantasy books published to date. She has designed numerous adventures for the Dungeons & Dragons game, and written novels set in the Forgotten Realms. A journalist for more than 20 years, she currently teaches game design at LaSalle College Vancouver. She is co-founder of Monkey Mind Games.

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