Apotheon Review: Getting geeky with greek mythology.

It has been 15 years (at the time of writing) since I walked into a history classroom where we learned about many different historical timeperiods such as the the rise and fall of the Roman Empire, Anglo-Saxons, TheVikings, Tudors, Nazi Germany and more. There is one specific time period thatalways fascinated me the most, Ancient Greek history and mythology. I lovedreading stories about Greek heroes and Gods such as the story of Pandora’s Box, Odysseus and the adventures of Hercules. Here I am, 15 years later playing Alien Trap’s latest title Apotheon, a 2D Metroidvania type game set in ancient Greece. Apotheon is now available on both the PlayStation 4 and PC. This review will be tackling the PS4 version which I actually got on PS Plus for FREE. May the Greek gods bless PS Plus!

You are placed in the sandals of Nikandreos, a pretty fierce looking greek warrior that looks like he has been ripped straight out of a mixture of Grecian art and pottery designs. After being observed by the Queen of the Gods called Hera defending his peaceful village from villainous marauders, she recruits Nikandreos to rise up to the task and save Olympus from the wrath of Zeus and the other Gods who are angry with the mortal world. Zeus in particular seems pretty pissed. It’s as if someone just shat into his greek tea.

The first thing that captured my attention is the visual style that Alien Trap went for with Apotheon. As I mentioned earlier, the art style reminds me of art that you would see in Grecian paintings and pottery. Each character displayed on screen is rendered in silhouette form against mostly a dark bronze background. The background colour palette changes depending on your location. For example, when you reach the sea world of Poseidon, the bronze background turns to a lovely mixture of shades of blue, Hades is the world of the dead so the underworld’s background changes to a rather depressing grey background that uses less than 50 shades of Grey (sorry I could not resist), the world of Ares, God of war and destruction, greets you with waterfalls of blood and the voices of the dead screaming and moaning in unison ringing throughout his kingdom. Each God kingdom looks visually different yet they all share the same artistic direction which I think is nice.

Apotheon is based largely around its combat system. The game is generous enough to allow you to carry a multitude of weapons and armour ranging from spears to long swords and small shields to tower shields. One thing that I really liked was the names associated to these weapons. For example, a small sword called “Xiphos”, “Hydra” arrows, “Celestial mirror shield” to name a few. Handling these weapons however was very clunky. Selecting your weapon for combat involves you making sure that the cursor is hovering over your weapon of choice. If not, you will need to tap the D-pad up or down before you can attack your enemy. You have to do this whilst fighting soldiers and mythical beasts by the way. Aiming with a bow or a throwing item also felt very clunky. I do feel that the aiming mechanism in this game would suit a mouse + keyboard setup a lot more than a gamepad. Having said that, I did find killing enemies very satisfying, especially dealing the final blow to the giant you encounter earlier in the game.

The soundtrack for Apotheon is composed by Marios Aristopaulos. The soundtrack is fantastic. In fact, you can listen to a sample of the glorious soundtrack on Youtube . The soundtrack combined with Apotheon’s beautiful aesthetic makes Apotheon one of the most captivating games I have played in a long time.

As beautiful as this game is, Apotheon sadly suffers from a large abundance of glitches and other technical issues that will hopefully be addressed in a future patch. Apotheon runs mostly at 60fps but starts dipping dramatically when Nikandreo enters one of the many towns and markets in Olympus. This also happens during big boss fights and battles with multiple enemies. I also came across a couple of game-breaking bugs which prevented me from completing side quests. I strongly advise you to turn auto save on and create backups of your saves. Apotheon took me about 15 hours to beat. This also includes all the side quests scattered all over Olympus.

Overall, Apotheon is not a bad game, nor is it a great game. Apotheon’s art style is just about enough to garner gamer’s attention and so it should, the game looks and feels fantastic. Unfortunately Apotheon’s clunky control is its Achilles heel. If you appreciate greek mythology, love metroidvania type games can spend time getting to learn how to fight with the almighty Nikandreos then Apotheon is actually pretty fun. If you can’t get your head around the game’s control and combat mechanics then you will struggle to scale this mountain of Olympus. 7/10

Originally published at bananagrana.tumblr.com.

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