Game Spotlight: Apotheon
I was talking with a friend about modern mythology yesterday and how some of the stories that are truly timeless gain the potential to transcend and become legendary in their own right, regardless of feasibility or setting. It’s quite easy to put together a personal list of things that we, as individuals, consider “legendary,” although I think the truth is that only time will tell: even Moby Dick wasn’t particularly a hot seller in it’s time. That being said, a lot of this though-train comes from the time I’ve been putting into Apotheon.
Apotheon is a 2D action RPG from Alien Trap Games, that released earlier this year. As you can see, the game makes excellent use of the ‘black-figure pottery’ style that is often aesthetically associated with ancient Greece, where the game is set. This is a bold and quite fruitful choice since the static style has not only been nailed in this game, it also translates into motion and movement quite well. The player controls Nikandreos, a young warrior struggling against the forces of Olympus on behalf of the entirety of humanity below. Kind of like a version of Kratos who doesn’t reflexively murder everything around him. The story centers mainly around the severing of humanity from the grace of Olympus and by extension all of the gifts that have been bestowed up it. Nikandreos must reclaim the gifts of the gods and in doing so, restore life and peace to the chaos that ravages the human world. He does so by visiting the gods themselves. These confrontations with the classic pantheon of deities each yield some sort of reward in a new ability or modifier as well as a restore a gift to humanity.
“The combat and platforming that the game has to offer honestly seem auxiliary to simply exploring and existing within the rich world.“
The game has a nicely designed, albeit somewhat clunky, combat system that feels fast and brutal. The player is given a powerful array of weapons to choose from that keep encounters fresh and interesting, but everything has a durability meter and careless players might find themselves in a bad spot with nothing but their firsts between them and a quick death. The combat plays well enough, but I found that the abundance of weapons becomes a bit of an ordeal to navigate in the middle of a fight. Because of the way weapon switching works, I usually end up just sticking to one weapon until it broke and auto selected the next regardless of the tactical situation. However, the combat and platforming that the game has to offer honestly seem auxiliary to simply exploring and existing within the rich world. Alien Trap seriously did their research here. There are multiple different environments to visit on Olympus, from the forest of Artemis to the underworld itself, all faithfully recreated and styled according to the mythological canon from which they come. The soundtrack and voice over work are excellent and atmospheric, adding further to the game’s aesthetic charm. This coupled with tidbits from Homeric hymns and other ancient Greek texts scattered throughout the world do a bit of Dark Souls style world building, and further the beautifully uniform aesthetic experience.
Apotheon doesn’t boast the greatest or most inventive gameplay I’ve ever seen, but it definitely doesn’t fall short in any category. On top of that, it does have one of the most cohesive and coherent worlds that I’ve seen in a while. When a game can take narrative ground that is as tread as ancient Greek mythology and make a modern player excited to explore and engage, there’s definitely ample reason to pick it up and give it a shot. In short: it’s gorgeous, simple, and incredibly faithful to the legends it takes inspiration from. Give it a shot if you’re a fan of mythology, metroidvania-style gameplay, or if you’re just looking for a pleasant way to spend some time.
Good gaming, ladies and gentlemen!