Percy Jackson is a twelve-year-old boy who suffers from ADHD, dyslexia, and a messed up home life. Early on in The Lightning Thief, he has the opportunity to vanquish Mrs. Dodds, his math teacher. Who wouldn’t want to be Percy? After all, you can’t blame him for taking a sword to Mrs. Dodds; she had just turned into an indescribably ugly fury, the first of many villains drawn from Greek mythology that appear in the game. Both Medusa and the Hydra make an appearance, but you don’t need to know Greek mythology to play the game (although it helps if you want to be well-rounded).
The Lightning Thief is a pretty standard RPG. The cast includes Percy, a son of Poseidon; Grover, “an undercover satyr” (can anyone apply for that job?); Luke, Hermes’ son; Annabeth, Athena’s daughter; and Chiron, a centaur who originally appears as a wheelchair-bound teacher. Zeus, the godfather of gods, thinks that Percy has stolen his lightning bolt. As you can imagine, that’s a pretty impressive item, so Percy has got to prove to Zeus that he’s innocent. The only way he can do that is to find said bolt.
After Percy defeats Mrs. Dodd, his mom takes him to Camp Half-Blood (appropriate because he is a demi-god). The trip is, of course, fraught with peril, and while Percy does battle, his mom does what moms do best — stay in the car. As for the actual battles, all of Percy’s friends cannot assist him at the same time, so the gamer must trade out the supporting cast and get a team of three that can do the most damage. Different friend combinations will produce different strengths and weaknesses. In various situations within The Lightning Thief it is absolutely essential to assemble the right character group.
In addition to fighting battles, the player must also complete quests. Victorious battles and successful quests are rewarded with experience and are the key to advancing through the game. Like many such games, there are a lot of levels and as the player advances, new levels and new abilities are unlocked.
Simple mini-games add to the damage Percy and his friends can do. There are a number of boosts and the player uses a map system to navigate. What The Lightning Thief does is put a fresh face on strategy and adventure games. How many games do we need with spells, magic, swords, and monsters? Some people may say “no more!,” while others shout “bring it on!” Harry Potter fans who accept other stories in the genre will probably think this game is great.
The graphics are fine — you’ve seen better, you’ve seen lots worse — and game play is relatively easy, although I think the weird creatures beat me many more times than I beat them. The music is interesting, sort of heroic, but guaranteed to become tiresome after extended play. You’ve got to listen to the music, though, if you want to hear the sound effects which do sound cool.
Ironically, The Lightning Thief is not a particularly good game for those with ADHD or dyslexia. Because it is so similar to other games in the genre, it is easy to get bored trying to learn how to play, give up, and play something one already likes. The Lightning Thief is challenging enough, it’s just not new enough.
Bottom Line: Would I buy The Lightning Thief? No, although it might be entertaining for fans of the Percy Jackson and the Olympians book series.
Percy Jackson & The Olympians: The Lightning Thief is rated E10+ (Everyone 10 and older) by the ESRB for Fantasy Violence.