If you've ever seen ancient drawings from the Greek or Egyptian cultures, you know how the artists often attempted to depict movement and action. Now, with the benefit of 21st-century technology, we can finally bring those drawings to life...after a fashion. Alien Trap Games is prepared to deliver Apotheon to the PlayStation 4 in early 2015 and this side-scroller offers a unique style and presentation. Basically, just take those pictures you remember from school or the latest historical documentary and animate them in your mind's eye. Pretty cool, huh?
In development for around three years, Alien Trap's 2D vision relies on simple mechanics; i.e., running, jumping attacking, blocking, etc. The game's combat will be a focal point and it's interesting because the designers have a background in multiplayer FPS games. Apotheon is anything but an FPS but the point is that this team isn't into button-mashing or intricate combos. Rather than making you memorize a bunch of complex multi-hit combos, or slamming on the same button over and over, they're giving you an adventure that revolves around timing and positioning. Yep, there's some strategy as well.
Attack, block, throw, and roll are pretty basic, but it will matter how and when you implement such basics. Furthermore, different weapons offer various abilities as well; for instance, the sword unlocks a diving attack. You'll become more skilled in any given weapon as time goes on, thereby giving you a larger and more impressive ability arsenal. It's not all about melee fighting, either, as you'll get a bow-and-arrow and a spear, both of which will allow you to keep a certain distance. The best part is that instead of blood and gore, these weapons will produce a more artistic, creative form of violence.
The fighting is indeed a major aspect of the game but obviously, atmosphere and style are a focal point, too. It's the Bronze Age and therefore, the equipment isn't invincible. Your weapons and shields can break if overused, and you'll need to continually maintain and upgrade your equipment. While the foundation of the game is simple, the developers will still include looting, shopping and crafting elements. As you're attempting to take down the Gods of Olympus, you're going to need to be vigilant. It's kind of like God of War in a smaller, more imaginative, less visceral package. Personally, I find it very appealing.
The depth doesn't translate to a role-playing game, mind you. There are no skill trees or level-grinding, but at least we get a more robust, dynamic gameplay setup. Old-school side-scrollers didn't have such features as shopping and crafting, remember? And while the game in question is rooted in ancient Greek culture, we'll still receive a diverse environment set. You'll explore everything from dangerous caves to more open (yet equally dangerous) areas, and the various enemies will force you to remain on your toes. Select the right weapon for the job and don't forget to take your surroundings into account! Sounds like Alien Trap thought of everything.
All that's left is the execution. If all these elements come together nicely and the mechanics are sound, Apotheon should end up being an original and even addictive new PS4 game. Give it a try when it arrives; looks like they're shooting for January.
12/18/2014 Ben Dutka