Available on PC and PlayStation 4 (tested)
I’m a big fan of “metroidvania” games; 2D side scroller action games, with upgrades and abilities to unlock that allows exploring areas that have been already visited in order to find their secrets. From the beginning, Apotheon promised that and it delivers it, unluckily, with some flaws.
Apotheon tells us the story of Nikandreos, a greek man chosen by Hera to climb Mount Olimpus in order to defeat the gods and Zeus himself, who have abandoned humanity. The story is simple and flat, and could have used a little more complexity and depth in order for me to get involved in Nikandreos journey.
The graphical aspect of Apotheon may be the best thing in the game, making this 12 hour journey a gorgeous one. Multiples scenarios beautifully crafted in greek wall painting fashion are a delight to watch, despite the fact that the first 10 minutes you will find yourself adapting your sight to the graphics. Each scenario (which can be revisited anytime thanks to a fast travel feature) has a soul of its own, each with a particular color palette and level design, based upon the God that rules over that portion of Mount Olympus.
Gameplay wise is where I found Apotheon has missed the opportunity to stand out, due to clunky controls and some overall game flaws. The game allows you to navigate your inventory and equip any weapon you have available on the fly; this idea was kinda cool at the beginning of the game, and not so cool when you have 10 weapons and have to cycle through them all if you want to equip, let’s say, the 7th one. However, you can pause the game and access to the inventory, but it kills the dynamic feel the game developers intended to give Apotheon. Worse than the inventory mechanics is the aiming, which is flawed to the bone using the DualShock 4, making some boss battles more difficult than they should be, even though the games balances this flaw with the really cool ideas brought up to said battles.
Moving Nikandreos is annoying sometimes; running at an acceptable speed takes time to build, but whenever you encounter a stair, Nikandreos stops and returns to his starting speed, instead of keep running. Also, Nikandreos has an awful tendency to stick to some platforms borders, which may make the difference between coming out victorious from a boss battle or have a horrible death.
But, the most annoying issue I have found in the game while playing it on my PS4 is the fact that frame rates drop a lot when 4 or 5 enemies are on screen, and the game even crashes very often, which makes you have to replay some challenging parts already beaten (in my case, for example, game crashed after defeating Apollo). I really hope a patch is coming to fix these frame rate/crashing issues soon, as it can get frustrating sometimes.
Apotheon is visually beautiful and could have been the first really good game of 2015, but technical and gameplay issues makes this Mount Olympus climb a clumsy and laggy one.