Apotheon is the latest game from Capsized developer Alientrap, and also just happens to be the most recent in a long line of PlayStation 4 releases to debut as part of the Instant Game Collection. The quality of these freebies has been all over the board since launch, leading many to question the quality of this Greek inspired romp – but fortunately, it's one of the best giveaways so far.
Action platformers aren't exactly new, as the likes of Metroid and Castlevania dominated the genre decades ago. However, while this stylish outing from the Canadian indie is very much forged in others' mould, it's still a terrific title.
You assume the role of Greek warrior Nikandreos, whom you meet in the war-ravaged, famine-swept mortal city of Dion. You discover that the mighty God Zeus has deigned to forsake the earthly folk, and leave them to wither and die. Unsurprisingly, you're not ok with this, and so you hatch a plan with Zeus' Goddess wife, Hera. This involves climbing Mount Olympus in an attempt to attain the powers of the deities that rule it. Sounds familiar, huh?
Subsequently, it's up to you to navigate the halls and fields of this sacred realm, and locate the items that give each God their powers. These are obtained by visiting each of their residencies and nabbing the objects through a mixture of brute force, trickery, and honour. This also happens to be one of the release's strongest assets as well.
Indeed, the boss battles are often radically different from one another, offering different challenges – while some of them aren't even 'battles' at all. The face-off against Athena, for example, sees you navigating a maze laden with traps and other obstacles. Of course, this quest for variety can result in some occasionally frustrating encounters, and you'll find the best and worst of both worlds during the final boss fight.
Fortunately, the combat feels great from start to finish, offering a variety of authentically styled weapons like spears, swords, bows, and more. Each of the instruments feel exactly as they should, too. For instance, if you have a particularly long spear, using it in close range won't actually do any damage at all; the blade will be too far away to harm anyone in such an instance. It's the small details like this that really help to elevate the game's combat. It's just a shame that a lot of the armaments in the game – like bear traps, for instance – don't really find a purpose, and end up feeling like afterthoughts as a consequence.
Speaking of which, the characterisation – or lack thereof – of Nikandreos is a particular problem. Beyond having a name and a cause, the protagonist feels like little more than a conduit for the combat. This doesn't exactly detract from the game, but a bit more plot would have been welcome.
Instead, you'll spend most of your time with the title exploring its various environments. This is often rewarded with luxurious goodies. It's quite addictive gathering all of these items, but we often encountered crashes when trying to open boxes. This didn't happen every time, but it occurred just enough to make this reviewer cautious, and we'd recommend saving often – or waiting for a patch – if you're concerned about hitting the same issues.
These problems aside, though, the presentation throughout is outstanding. The game has an absolutely fantastic score by Marios Aristopoulos, which employs pounding war drums, lighter ambient music, and playful harp pieces. The art, as you're likely already aware, is also stunning, modelled after ancient Greek pottery. We really liked the way the different areas employed slightly altered colour palettes, with Poseidon's section opting for blues, while Hades sticks with blacks.
Apotheon is not perfect, but it's still more than fit for a God. Minor crashing and design issues aside, this gorgeously presented action platformer packs plenty of variety beneath its pottery-inspired shell. Plus, who doesn't love Greek mythology?