By – Sophie Jones

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Apotheon is a unique platformer that offers players an opportunity to venture back in time and become a Greek Hero. In this epic adventure told by Alien Trap games, expect to be throwing spears, dueling with Aries and exploring the Underworld. This indie title also offers competitive local multiplayer where friends can test their skills in legendary duels. So what did I think about Apotheon during the time I spent with it?

Apotheon’s story begins with the warrior Nikandreos (the game’s protagonist) fighting off invaders in his home city. During the introduction, Nikandreos arrives at the Temple of Zeus, and learns from his wife Hera that Zeus plans on leaving humanity to die. Hera than offers Nikandreos a chance to save humankind as she teleports him to Olympus. From there, it is Nikandreos’ crusade to eliminate the gods,so he can overrule Zeus, and save civilization.

The story of Apotheon is told via cutscenes between Nikandreos and the various Gods he rivals. These cutscenes were engaging and kept me entertained as the voice acting was fabulous. Nikandreos does not have a voice himself during these dialogues, but I liked this as it symbolized that he was not a God and thus not worthy of a voice. The mythology of Apotheon is inscribed on stones that the player can read during their adventure .This added another dimension to the game, as I felt immersed in this Greek world, and learnt a few things I didn’t know before.

Overall, the story of Apotheon was nicely executed.  It mirrored the Greek Heroic stories of old and kept me engaged as I ventured through its sprawling levels. The only story related problem with Apotheon lay in its pace. Before facing each God, the player had to do several side quests that would aid Nikandreos in the fight. However, these quests were rather dull and their significance was never truly explained. Therefore, at times I became bored with Apotheon’s repetitive nature. Nevertheless, the ending of Apotheon left me satisfied and the story arc came full circle.I would happily hear this tale again. Alien Trap should be commended on providing a fantastic story telling experience.

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As Apotheon is a 2D platformer the environments were, at times, confusing to navigate. The maps Alien Trap created were difficult to read and some times I got lost. In particular there was one stage where I was meant to get to another zone however, it was unclear how to get to this location as it appeared to be off the map. In the end, I made a leap of faith off the highest point on the map and luckily  landed safely.  The ledge was hidden through a waterfall and could not be seen on the map or in game until that moment. It was only at these times that I became frustrated with Apotheon’s design as navigation was mostly pot luck.

Despite the confusing level design and poor map, Apotheon’s overall style was perfect for the story Alien Trap Games wanted to tell. Even though its design was simple (based on pottery) each level was varied. When Nikandreos descended to Hades, the backgrounds were mainly blue and grey to mirror the feeling of death and depression. These alterations in the levels made the game feel fresh every time you entered a new zone.  Its charming design is based on ancient Greek pottery, particularly the Black Figure style. The design used by Alien Trap Games not only gives Apotheon a unique look, but also aids the games story, as the design fits perfectly with the ancient heroic theme. This choice is not only beautiful, but clever, as Apotheon’s world comes to life because of its style.  The aesthetic brings the game to life as it embellishes the heroic Greek World with its use of the Black Figure style.

Alien Trap Games have implemented various gameplay ideas into Apotheon that keeps it interesting. Throughout the game, players can upgrade their armour and weapons via pick-ups or buying them from the market. You can also undertake weapons training, learn apothecary as well as buy new items from vendors. Apotheon also includes many weapons, all of which are authentic to Ancient Greece, some of these include doru, trident, Greek fire and spears. All of the weapons in Apotheon have a lifespan and eventually break. These gameplay elements included in Apotheon give the game a roleplaying feel.

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However, the role playing elements of Apotheon sometimes hinder gameplay as they become overwhelming. Furthermore, there is never enough coin in order to experience all of the gameplay options Alien Trap Games have offered. For instance, in my playthrough, I had just been able to afford new potions when the game was about to end.  Thus in this instance I think Apotheon would have been better off having less roleplaying elements, so players could have experienced less but in more depth.

The gameplay can also become tiresome as the 2D platform can’t handle combat well. For example, enemies often walk on top of Nikandreos during battle, meaning you are unable to strike them with your weapon. This problem became more infuriating during fights with multiple enemies. Additionally, switching between weapons, especially from melee to potions is fiddly. This is because there are four columns the player can alternate between and it is unclear which column is selected at a time. Consequently, the time taken to maneuver these columns usually leads to many unfortunate deaths.

The challenge in Apotheon mainly rested in its puzzles. Alien Trap Games have created some fantastic puzzles in Apotheon which are unique and interesting to solve. For example, whilst facing Athena, Nikandreos had to find doors in a moving maze. Solving these puzzles was gratifying and offered a nice change of pace. However, despite these excellent puzzles, there were some that were cheap. These puzzles ruined parts of the game and became increasingly exasperating. In one instance players were tasked with hitting an unknown target.

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As Nikandreos, the player had to shoot an arrow across a void and hit a target which couldn’t be seen. This was annoying as it wasn’t a test of skill or intellect but rather it just tested my patience. These badly designed puzzles felt cheap as when Nikandreos ran out of arrows, there were none nearby that would respawn. This meant players would have to kill the protagonist just to start the same trivial challenge again. Therefore, despite some excellent puzzles in Apotheon, there were some that ruined the experience.

Apotheon surprised me the most in its ability to deliver amazing boss battles. Throughout the course of Apotheon, Nikandreos faces seven of the Greek Gods and each of these epic encounters has its own unique battle. Unlike AAA games that waste boss fights by using quick time events, Alien Trap Games have thought about each battle and made it challenging. For example, when facing Apollo, the whole battle was in the dark so I had to think carefully about each move. Whereas when I faced Poseidon the battle took place on a stormy sea and I had to do my best to stay on board the small boat as it rocked about. These amazing battles made the game spectacular and showcased the power of the Greek Gods in a delightful manner.

The game can be played on a less than stellar PC. Although there are a few graphical options, Apotheon makes the best of what it does offer. Furthermore, I didn’t encounter any framerate issues or glitches whilst playing through the campaign.

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Is It Worth Your Money?

Apotheon is a beautifully crafted platform game. However, despite being a beautiful and interesting game to play, there are a few gameplay issues that detract from the enjoyment. Consequently the game can become tiresome in areas. Nonetheless, Apotheon is a game that is worth playing till the end as the story arc is nicely concluded and the boss battles are extremely intense.

Apotheon Technical Summary:

Apotheon Review Sum

  • Time Played – 7 Hours
  • Widescreen Support – Yes
  • Windowed Mode – Yes
  • Resolution Played – 1920×1080
  • Bugs/Crashes Encountered – None
  • DRM – Steamworks (DRM-free version TBA)
  • System Specs – i7-4790K @4 GHz, 8GB RAM, Geforce GTX 770
  • Control Scheme – M/KB or controller
  • Game Acquisition Method – Review Copy
  • Availability – Steam
  • Demo – No
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  • Sand Ripper

    Weird; I was thinking about this game today, and when I got home I saw this review and when I checked Steam the game is on sale for 50% off.

    It must be a sign from the Gods.

    • AdamAmes

      Therefore, you must buy.

    • Sophie Jones

      its a sign 😀 and i recommend it 🙂 Hope you enjoyed the review.

  • trincetto

    I love the art style and theme, I’ve been interested in it after seeing a video of the game some years ago. I’ll probably wait a bit before buying, because of the problems with the fighting mechanics and map design. The latter is especially important, I have a terrible sense of direction.

    Nice review, although although a few less repetitions in the text (especially the game and developers’ name) would make it even better!

    • AdamAmes

      Thanks for the feedback. It is always a challenge bringing on new writers and getting to know their styles. As the main editor here, one of my pet peeves is being repetitive (ask anyone on our team), but there is also a fine line and balance you must find.

      It is my job to take their styles, add a new word here, some sentence flipping there and add a sprinkle of entertainment all while not losing the essence of what makes them a good writer.

      • trincetto

        You’re welcome. Keep up the good work on the site!

    • Sophie Jones

      It is tricky trying to find your way around. Next time I will try not be as repetitive :p glad you enjoyed it!

  • agamer

    I would like to point out that in the part where you have to fire a projectile across the void, you’re supposed to use the map which shows you where the arrow is going and that makes it much easier. I also found two important game-breaking bugs, one where opening a chest crashed the game and another where Zeus’s minions refused to spawn but overall it was a fantastic experience akin to a 2D God of War.

    • Sophie Jones

      I used the map on that section but it was still a bit all over the place. Though I feel like quite the experienced archer now. I never encountered those bugs but thanks for pointing them out as I’m sure others have :).