Apotheon, the game that is most well-known for its looks. The style mimicking the one of ancient greek pottery feels strikingly unusual and memorable. If only ancient greeks knew. Or maybe they did, but you surely won’t know it from this game. As predictable as it seems, the story revolves around killing gods in order to take their godly powers from them; and as revenge on them for being sadistical mass-murdering psychopaths. The olympic dwellers had decided that the mortals are “not worthy” anymore and all quit their god-jobs. There’s no more sun rising and setting; the soil has lost all its fertility. People are starved. As a result there’s banditry. So you find your hero in the midst of a raider attack on his village. Nikandreos fights them off effectively and makes it to the high ground, where the Hera's temple is originated. She offers him assistance in solving his people misfortunes by killing Zeus, who is portrayed like a constantly horny idiot making all of this just on a whim. Not that it isn’t accurate according to myths. After all we’re talking about a guy, who turned himself into a fucking swan to rape a daughter of king of Sparta, right?

Just take what you want and leave!

So you’re sent to Olympus and there’s all that familiar jazz dating back to The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past. There’s a map where exact locations of where you should be going right now are marked with your goals noted; usually it’s something like “acquire the aegis of Athena”. Sometimes it doesn’t even involve killing another god, because of course there are those among deities who are sympathetic to humans, but can’t do anything except provide you with tasks of going to dangerous places and doing all that fighting along the way. The map isn’t uncovered initially though, so these arrows are just indicators of general “right” direction. Somewhere you need to go, rather than can. What you can is to start wandering around uncovering secrets and hidden areas, secret caches with upgrades and weapons or even vendors selling some potions or recipes for summoning stuff. As far as optionality goes you don’t even need to acquire all the gods’ powers available in the game but can instead stick only to mandatory ones, those with tiny arrows attached.

If not in terms of amount of such content, but in a sense of proportion of it in the core experience Apotheon surely took notice of what first Dark Souls did. Same is true for combat mechanics of the game. You’ve got a stamina bar which is used for blocking with left trigger on the gamepad and attack on the right one; there are combat rolls and tons of weapons with different attack animations. Cautionary exploring is rewarded and smart tactics can save you a lot of trouble. Knowing your weapon, its speed and reach is a must; handling it properly is even more so. To keep things spicier there’s need to actually target your weapon with a right stick, which takes place of the positioning depth of 3d games. You can just try to mash attack facing in general direction of a nearest surprisingly tanned ancient greek god or his eternally respawning minion, but if would be hardly effective. Enemies try to dodge, block and reposition themselves as much as you do, so catching them mid-flight with a pointy tip of your weapon at least sometimes would be life-saving. To make things even more complex the game throws in an ability to use ranged weaponry and even throw your main equipped one right in the surprised face of another evil cyclops. On top of that there’s traps, armor system, health regeneration system, environmental weapons like big blocks of stone lying around here and there. Upgrades apart from gods’ powers are bought with gold and either are pieces of armor or static bonuses with percentage of attack speed and damage added to certain types of weapon. This works for a world where weapons break all the time, and those “repair kits” don’t actually repair anything, but just fill up that armor bar. Thankfully you’re not really limited around in what you can bring to another fight. You can’t have two of one weapon type for a few exceptions, but you can carry all your armory within their respective limits in those non-existent ancient greek pockets of yours. Axes, lances, swords, arrows, throwing rocks — everything can be used considering you’ve dealt with controls while dodging all those life-threatening stuff.

Indian winter

Of course finding those ingredients for potions and refilling a stock of preferable spears takes some time. In a few hours breaking all the boxes and looking for them outside of a scope of main adventure will be usual. Wandering around and exploring actually helps, so it becomes natural. In the middle of another house break-in when another citizen of Olympus will offer to you “take what you want and leave”, you may even question yourself what is a real motivation of our hero is. Revenge? Hope to help mankind? Lust for power? Isn’t robbing wrong? But then the game throws in another factually correct retelling of another myth, and you can see who’s the real villain here. A musical contest with a mortal for any wish where the obvious winner wishes to flay the loser alive — how does that sound? In the script of the game that stands for some stabbing and acquiring Apollo’s lyre.

Making a way through the game’s world, engaging in interesting combat, enjoying the view, listening to great symphonic soundtrack — all parts for a great game are in place.