Apotheon Review (PC)
In Apotheon, Greece is in tatters. Nature's drying up, people are fighting everywhere, and everyone's too busy dying to make awesome sculptures of naked dudes. With the help of Hera, scorned wife of the cheating Zeus, Nikandreos has to travel around Ancient Greece fixing its many problems one at a time and getting those lazy Gods motivated to do their jobs. Apotheon doesn't have the deepest story, and Nick is a boring, blank canvas of a protagonist, but there's enough there to get things done while propelling you into the real action of exploring, fighting, and powering up.
Before ever pushing a button to play Apotheon, the first thing you're going to notice is its striking art style. Apotheon draws direct inspiration from the art of Ancient Greece, and the results are mixed. It's beautiful to look at, and definitely sets it apart from other games on the market, but the over-reliance on dark colors can sometimes make it hard to tell when you're looking at, or what's interactable as opposed to being just background dressing. Plus, the animations are stiff-looking; this art style, while distinctive, hinders visual variety. Later areas of Apotheon look more or less the same as the earlier areas, just with a different color-coding. Apotheon's soundtrack, on the other hand, is excellent start to finish.
While exploring Ancient Greece you'll duke it out with various naked man-beasts, soldiers, and mythological beings, all the while gaining new equipment and abilities. There's a lot of neat equipment to collect, but your gear isn't always as functional as you might like. For example, it's easy to accidentally throw a valuable sword at an enemy when you were trying to shoot your bow, and items like the bear trap feel like they were just thrown in haphazardly instead of being a meaningful addition to your arsenal.
Thanks to smart level design, objective marking, and a clear map, moving from point to point is a breeze. Apotheon knows how to get you where you want to go, and the levels are designed with enough interesting variety that you'll have a good time navigating the many nooks and crannies on your hunt for the next objective or secret. The development team at Apotheon clearly knows their Greek mythology, as the many characters you encounter, or bits of reading you stumble across, do a great job of pulling you into that world. Exploring’s pretty fun, but things start dragging more when actual combat gets involved.
Apotheon's battles are simple; most of the time you'll either be swapping hit-and-runs with mobile beasts, or guarding/dodging the blows of humanoids while waiting for an opening. It's fine enough, but after a while you'll feel hungry for fights with a little more meat to them, and may end up running past enemies just so you don't waste the time it would take to kill them.
Every action-platformer's heart should pump with blood made of airtight controls; Apotheon's heart is sluggish and arrhythmic. Controlling Nick is generally pretty awkward— expect to get pounded by enemies while you clumsily try to cycle through your many shields, arrows, and exploding potions. Nick jumps like he's made of lead, and rather than provide players with a designated run button, Apotheon has Nick gain momentum naturally as he moves forward, which might sound nice, but it really means that he's constantly shifting how fast he moves, making combat and navigation tougher than they need to be.
There's also a multiplayer combat arena mode, but thanks to the clunky controls, you're probably going to check into the multiplayer once and then check out just as quickly.
Apotheon's glory falls somewhere between Mt. Olympus and Hades. It's beautiful to look at, but clumsy to play, and yet the setting is so vibrant and the level design is so smooth you may continue onward in spite of your frustrations. With a bit more polish Apotheon could have been truly worthy of Godhood, but as it is, this is one very flawed, very mortal game.
This review was completed with a purchased digital copy of Apotheon for PC.