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Norse Mythology Never Looked Scarier in Apsulov: End of Gods

apsulov end of gods cover

Apsulov: End of Gods

Release Date: September 21, 2021
Available as: Physical and Digital

Survive the treacherous halls of Midgard.

Apsulov: End of Gods is a survival horror title that combines the genre with Norse mythology, offering a unique spin on the latter in a chilling atmosphere. Originally released in August 2019, as with most indie titles, Apsulov: End of Gods was considered a hidden gem based on user reviews on Steam. The consensus was the surprising number of references to Norse mythology including the world tree, Yggdrasil, and Thor's glove Jarngreipr which acts as the protagonist's weapon.

Other references to locations within Norse mythology include Midgard, the space station that the protagonist and her allies serve as their base of operations, limited as they may be. There are realms within the Yggdrasil network, including the icy mountains of Niflheim, which the player will eventually end up in before the end of chapter 1. Apsulov: End of Gods does a fair job in creating uncomfortable environments that grip the player rather than repel them away.

Apsulov: End of Gods Niflheim
Apsulov: End of Gods - PlayStation 5 Direct Capture

The best way to explain this is to think of survival horror games historically, using grotesque environments, shrill sounds, and muted darkness to set the mood. In Apsulov: End of Gods, all of the cues from previous survival games exist but the game also excels at telling a narrative. The player finds themselves bound to a table after operations are done to them while a supercomputer berates them, not unlike GLaD0S in the Portal series. The protagonist has no recollection of who she is or why this omnipotent being is voicing their disapproval of her. Following her near-death experience, the protagonist must evade her enemies and solve the mystery of her identity.

The Light is Your Friend But the Darkness is Your Ally.

Throughout the entirety of chapter 1, the protagonist travels through vents scattered in the science facilities, in which the player will encounter their first type of enemy. Defenseless, the player's only ability is to illuminate the darkened paths before them while revealing the secrets of Midgard and solving puzzles. Locked doors may require a passcode that's only discoverable by finding the numbers uncovered by the protagonist's power for example.

Apsulov: End of Gods Hendrik
Apsulov: End of Gods - PlayStation 5 Direct Capture

Unlike Tormented Souls, in which being in the dark is the equivalent to death, survival in Apsulov: End of Gods is dependent on remaining as hidden as possible. The player will meet their first enemy outside of the vents as mutated humanoids with grotesque features and protruding horns that resemble deers known as the Spirit.

The Spirit are extra sensitive to light, holding their heads in agony whenever the protagonist uses their light power. If the player comes in close contact with the enemy while using their light, they will become startled, chase, and attack the player relentlessly. Fortunately, the player can outrun the enemy and remain in hiding just far enough from their route to the point where they will give up the chase.

In Apsulov: End of Gods, Death is the Beginning, Not the End.

Players unable to avoid the Spirit are pummeled and transported to another location separate from Midgard known as the Ether. Rather than a conventional "Game Over," the player has another chance to return to the realm of living by solving a simple puzzle involving placing stones on platforms. Upon successfully doing so and entering the portal, the player will return where they once were before "death."

Apsulov: End of Gods Jarngreipr
Apsulov: End of Gods - PlayStation 5 Direct Capture

This comes at a compromise, as the more the player dies, the more abnormalities exist in the ether to put the player's soul to eternal rest. This includes a creepy green monster who will immediately detect the player and stop their advances, initiating a soft time limit. The player will only have several moments to solve the puzzle to activate the portal before the monster eventually catches up to the player, causing a true end to the player's tale. Despite this, Apsulov: End of Gods has a generous number of checkpoints to make progression less painful.

The player eventually enters even territory once they acquire the earlier mentioned Jarngreipr arm, allowing them to access energy pulses to destroy weaker enemies and stun larger enemies. The Jarngreipr is also used to solve long-distance puzzles, activate switches, and access doors with a hacking mini-game. The catch is that the arm requires charges to activate the pulses, which are limited to power cells or charging stations scattered within the environment.

Fight Against Your Demons or Survive Their Assault

This means that even when the player finds a way to defend themselves, that defense is akin to using a revolver that's running on limited ammo. This forces the player to decide when it's best to use the Jarngreipr over simply evading and outrunning pursuers. An example being the player, stuck in the Ether, using the Jarngreipr to stun the enemy long enough to grant themselves another chance at living. The player can blast their way against their adversaries, but doing so will limit their survival chances when it counts.

Apsulov: End of Gods Loki
Apsulov: End of Gods - PlayStation 5 Direct Capture

Perhaps one of the most intriguing claims about Apsulov: End of Gods is that it's a "Norse take on Doom" according to The Sixth Axis's review. While the game does harbor some elements of Doom 3 and even Dead Space with its sci-fi supernatural aesthetic, the former is by no means comparative to Apsulov: End of Gods. In Doom 3, the player always feels safe while carrying a shotgun intended to blast the unknown. In Apsulov, the player has access to limited ammo, forcing the player to rely on immersion within their surroundings.

Apsulov: End of Gods was different in most survival horror games as it relies on its lore, environment, and atmosphere to set the tone rather than just jump-scares. For players sensitive to survival horror games, whether they aren't the biggest fans or they loathe the genre, Apsulov: End of Gods is a title worth trying for at least the first chapter. Its reliance on entrancing the player with an uncomfortable setting is comparable to Bioshock, which for fans of the series, may be more than enough to give the Norse mythology Sci-Fi horror a try.

Apsulov: End of Gods is available on the PC, PS4, and PS5.


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