Nobody does horror better than the Vikings!
I usually don’t dabble in horror games, but I’m sort of a fan of Norse mythology. What first got me into it in particular was the widely sought after God of War franchise that, amongst other wins, really pushed Norse mythology to the forefront. I was therefore pretty intrigued when I first learned of Apsulov: End of Gods – a unique viking horror game that fluidly gels ancient Norse mythology with elements of futuristic sci-fi that delivers a seriously thrilling adventure.
I thought so too.
The story of Apsulov: End of Gods similarly resembles that of Doom or Quake. Essentially, humans have dug way too deep into the earth looking for new materials, and in doing so manage to unearth a terrifying apocalyptic terror. As the humans delved far beneath the earth to find the mercy of the gods, what they found was never meant to reach the surface. Now their discovery wreaks havoc on their world, exploiting their technology, and leaving all in misery and decay. In a world of technology and mythological artefacts, chaos rules over the human realm. It is in this chaos that you find your purpose and destiny.
Where games like Doom or Quake create a foreign and strange demonic world to overcome and defeat, Apsulov: End of Gods’ enemies are rooted in various realms centered around Yggdrasil, the World Tree. Yggdrasil itself plays an important role in this strange title. The roots of this tree snake and wind through the environments of the game, entangling and clenching the atmosphere at large. At the same time this crippling World Tree also becomes the principle method of travel between the various worlds in Apsulov: End of Gods. To be real, the juxtaposition just blew me away.
In truth, I’m not going to dampen this review and compare Apsulov: End of Gods to other games that have used similar plot devices in the past. Rather, the accolade that truly needs to be praised here is how well the developer, Angry Demon, has managed to touch on the best story elements from top tier games and mix them with deep Norse mythology to create something completely new and unique!
Apsulov: End of Gods has a solid sense of character and narrative. In the game you play Alice. As the game’s main heroine you awaken in a sanctuary of steel and concrete, built to research and exploit the worlds of Yggdrasill, and to house an artefact, buried in the earth ages ago.
There are times during Apsulov: End of Gods’ story where the hardships and torture of your character as she progresses through the game begins to feel a bit gratuitous. Something about seeing images of a female’s face and torso with Norse runes being cut into her body sort of puts a damper on the day, you know? Luckily, Angry Demon has done a great job of raining the torture level in just before the images totally cross the line. I can totally appreciate this. However, this being a horror game, the otherwise graphic content really shouldn’t deter fans of the genre. Initially though, it started giving me a slight unpleasant feeling that made me fearful of where this game was heading.
Apsulov: End of Gods is a very dark game. Perfectly aligned to its fearful overtones, graphically the game delivers the same visceral experience. Many areas within it are heavily shadowed and murky, and guess what? You need to navigate through them most of the time. Luckily, your tough as nails hero Alice comes with an augmented vision mode called ‘The Sight’. (Think: detective mode, or focus mode.) Your ability, when active, lights up your surroundings and reveals secret codes and hints. The ability does have a cool-down limit, so with time you will innately learn how to use your alternate vision mode in a rather routine manner as you explore different creepy environments. Keep in mind however, that enemies that are only seen via ‘The Sight’ are exclusive to only certain areas of the map. This means that you can use this to your advantage as you need not worry about these nuisances when you are not running through those specific areas.
Traversing the worlds around Yggdrasil does involve a good mix of stealth, combat, and a fair amount of environmental puzzles using the Jarngreipr. (For those of you paying attention – Iron gloves from Thor, baby!) Yes, true, this is nothing new for any experienced gamer, these different mechanics excellently blend together very well to ensure that there is variety to the overall experience and gameplay. The enemies crawling around Yggdrasil, while truly gruesome in design, are also limited in variety (as if giant maggot-like monsters creeping around in the shadows is not unnerving enough), and while I hate myself for saying this, it would have been great to see more creepiness added to the horrific lineup of baddies.
Overall, Apsulov: End of Gods instantly sold me. Based on its inventive twist between the Norse mythology and horror genre, as well as key upsetting moments that added another layer of uneasiness to my gameplay, I would definitely replay this game again for its intense story arc alone! While the game will keep you busy for about 5 hours, you can likely finish the whole story of Apsulov: End of Gods in a good weekend sitting. With a gripping story, engaging characters, and an original concept – this is exactly the game that makes the horror genre great!