Photo from: Alientrap

The most immediately striking feature of Apotheon is the art design; the richly colored 2d levels appear as if the game took place on an Amphora, or Greek pot. The game displays characters and in-world items silhouetted against beautifully patterned and shaded backgrounds. Developed by Alientrap Games for Steam and PS4, February saw the PlayStation Plus service add Apotheon to its line up of monthly free games. The atmospheric elements of the game have a wonderful and simple geometric nature about them: Smoke puffs in concentric circles and hit indicators are dizzying squared spirals.  The story is steeped in Greek mythology and as the main character Nikandreos you are tasked with fighting the Gods and restoring their gifts of bounty to the Earth.  Yes, this game plays as a kind of curious offspring between Patapon and God of War.

 The objectives of a given level can be completed in any order, none of the game feels particularly like backtracking or fetch questing.  The distance is never exorbitantly far between objectives and the path is always dotted by instances of combat.  The combat mechanics are fairly simple: R2 is the primary attack (modified by the direction of the left stick) and R1 is secondary attack, which is locked to ranged weapons like the bow, javelins or throwing axes and L2 functions as defense, raising a shield that can be directed toward incoming attacks with the right stick.  At times the combat feels a little too loose and each weapon takes a second to orient with regard to range and the curious movement of the character can make targeting difficult to get used to.  Weapon condition and a stamina bar give some layers to approaching combat encounters.
The inventory system is fairly deep.  There are many types of melee weapons, each with its own range: From the short and speedy dagger to the slower but rangey Doru. This adds complexity as enemies have different weapons and armor. So using the right weapon and strategy is very important to taking down enemies.  While there are many weapons to choose from, the inventory could be a bit easier to navigate.  When the game is paused navigation is not a problem at all, however, sometimes in the middle of battle a weapon will break and it becomes necessary to equip a new weapon; the d-pad navigation is a bit slow and cumbersome when attempting to take down multiple enemies in the heat of battle.  The depth of the inventory extends to various potions that are craft-able and enable the player to heal or break down obstacles to advance through the levels.
The game is definitely fun and I am going to keep it around on my hard drive for a while.  The single player campaign is said to clock in at something like 15 hours.  It’s nothing I could sink absurd amounts of time in replaying, but I think eventually I can hack my way to the end.

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