Apotheon im Test - Metroidysseus
As we crumble into the playroom with Apotheon in the editorial office and walk through a colorful world with a black man, more and more colleagues gather with open mouths in front of the screen. Because optically the action game is a flatterer, a distillate of paper cutting, shadow play and Greek vase painting. Fortunately, there is also an entertaining adventure under the pretty facade, but it could be even better if it were more daring.
A story to fall asleep to
Apotheon wastes most of its potential in its framework. Zeus, father of the gods, is bored with mortals and turns away from them. This has serious consequences for life on earth: Seas are drying up, wild animals are dwindling, plants and trees are withering - humanity is on the brink of existence.
Fortunately, there is a brave warrior who rears up against the gods. Nikeandreos, driven by revenge, wants to destroy Zeus and the rest of the Olympic gods in order to save the world with their might. So far, so irrelevant, the story fits on the tip of a hoplite spear. We also miss cutscenes or video snippets.
One cannot expect more than text panels and carefully spoken dialogues between the hero and the inhabitants of Mount Olympus. By the way, they are only in English. Foreign language grouches, however, only miss a little background information on Greek mythology. Historically savvy adventurers can skip the soporific conversations with a clear conscience.
Metroidvania in ancient Greece
At its core, Apotheon is a typical 2D Metroidvania game. So we run and pound our way from left to right through a non-linear world. Before we make Zeus personally acquainted with our blade, we must first beat six other gods such as Apollo, Poseidon and Artemis as well as various side bosses in the Orcus. The order in which we proceed is up to us.
We first choose an area on the world map that we want to enter. Then we have to complete a handful of side quests before the respective ruler is at the collar. In this way we are destroying Poseidon's temple of gods and appeasing the oceans to clear the way for our ship and to break the trident of the Sea King. Practical: There are teleport stones in almost every area, so that we can quickly switch between the areas. That saves annoying walking distances.
After all, we are already walking our feet sore, because the individual levels are surprisingly spacious and house numerous treasures and secret chambers. If you keep your eyes open, you will discover hidden switches that open small passages. In the coveted treasure chests, we usually find better weapons and armor, but also various materials such as leftover bones and mint leaves, which we mix into useful potions in the crafting menu.
Do more damage for a short time or slaughter invulnerable through the enemy lines? No problem! We can even make bear traps, make makeshift bombs and summon ghost wolves - provided the right ingredients are used. In any case, there is no shortage of supplies. In the course of the 15-hour adventure, we smash enough vases and boxes to open a flea market with the clutter found in them.
We also collect Klimpergeld, which we invest in new manufacturing recipes and weapons at the dealer. However, it makes more sense to carry the taler to the combat master. Training increases our attack speed and the damage dealt. Both are vital in the later course of the game.
It is also important to handle our equipment carefully, because swords, axes, spears and shields don't last forever. Every blow damages our weapon until it finally bursts and we are left empty-handed. Fortunately we can find some kind of murder instrument on almost every corner, mostly worthless junk such as pitchforks, daggers and wooden clubs. We seldom get hold of particularly powerful weapons such as a broadsword, which gives us a piece of life energy with every hit, or a bronze mace with which we can easily dent the helmets (and skulls) of our opponents.
But it is precisely this scarcity that makes the combat system so attractive. We only pull out our powerful fire blade at a boss opponent instead of wasting it on a few silly guards. By the way: Not only do our weapons crumble, our armor is also continuously damaged, but it can be repaired with the help of small hammers.
The Achilles heel
Weapons, shields, potions, ingredients and traps - our virtual bags will soon be bursting at the seams. So it's no wonder that we accidentally select the wrong item in the battles, especially since the tiny item symbols all look very similar. So in the heat of the moment we scroll frantically through the various quick-selection menus and place explosive bombs instead of switching to a bow and arrow. Unfortunately, this is not necessarily more comfortable with a gamepad.
In addition, the hero does not always respond to our commands. Sometimes we get stuck at small obstacles or jump into the abyss. The fiddly operation is the Achilles heel of Apotheon and the main reason that it does not advance into higher ratings.
The fact that we still cannot tear ourselves away from the screen and overlook such moments of frustration is due to the playful variety. The developers have obviously tried to diversify and created many memorable scenes. Be it the ride on a horse through a forest inhabited by nymphs, the trap-riddled labyrinth of Athena or the boss fight against the god of war Ares, which we can only defeat if we lure him into his own obstacle course with circular saws - great! Unfortunately, we are also annoyed here about unused potential, because the puzzles hardly tickle our gray cells and almost never deviate from the simple flick of a switch.