Apsulov: End of Gods
If movies and games have taught us one thing, it’s that scientists are exceedingly good at meddling with things best left alone. In the case of Apsoluv: End of Gods by Swedish developer Angry Demon Studio, it is the exploitation of the nine realms of Asgard that backfires horribly for everyone involved. When research by Borr Corp uncovered that Norse Mythology is real, they wasted no time harnessing the powers of Yggdrasil, the World Tree, to travel between the realms and scavenging artifacts. Predictably enough, by the time Alice, the game’s protagonist, wakes up in an underground research facility, things are looking pretty grim.
After a somewhat jarring introduction to the world of Apsoluv: End of Gods, Alice is let loose on the underground facility. What is left of the place is dark and infested with evil, so Alice has to be cautious. However, she soon finds an ally in Dr. Henrik Andersson, the CEO of Borr Corp, who enlists her aid to try and set things right. Along the way, Alice discovers some shocking truths about her surroundings and herself as well.
Apsoluv: End of Gods is a first-person horror title that mixes Norse Mythology with science fiction. It’s a rather unusual combination, but the game pulls it off with style. The best way to describe Apsoluv would be as a combination of Hellblade: Senua’s Sacrifice and Deadspace, but don’t expect to wade into the fray with an arsenal of weapons. While Apsoluv does involve some combat, Alice is, for the most part, pretty vulnerable when it comes to the supernatural foes roaming around in the dark. Some stealth is required to stay out of their line of sight, and if all else fails, making a mad dash for safety can sometimes also work. The game does have save points, but plenty of things can go wrong in the long distances between them. Thankfully, death doesn’t have to be the end in Apsoluv, as Alice will simply end up in the afterlife. From here, Alice can win back her life by collecting two orbs to open a portal. While this is very easy, the task is complicated somewhat by the vengeful spirit that also lurks in the afterlife. If it catches Alice before placing the orbs in the right spots and making her escape, she will die permanently and be sent back to the last checkpoint.
When Alice is not skulking around in the dark and avoiding enemies, there are a few environmental puzzles to solve as well as some light platforming. Alice is not particularly fast or strong, but she does gain access to two artifacts that give her a better chance at survival.
The first is a type of augmented vision called The Sight, which provides limited visibility in the dark and reveals things that other mortals cannot see. It is quite handy, seeing as most of the game is set in almost pitch darkness, but unfortunately, it can deplete very quickly and has to recharge between uses. The other artifact is a cybernetic arm called Jarngreipr that is powered by an energy source known as Etrium. Jarngreipr can be used for everything from opening doors and activating specific machines to blasting enemies, but Etrium is scarce enough that you can’t really abuse its powers.
The bulk of Apsoluv is set inside the massive underground research facility, but occasionally Alice also gets to travel to some of the other realms, such as Niflheim and Helheim. Her journey is relatively linear but does involve some backtracking, and there’s just enough freedom to search for the optional audio logs and collectible runes if you are so inclined. Of course, it wouldn’t be a horror game if there weren’t some scares involved, and Apsulov also provides plenty of these. Most of them are jump-scares, but the game also excels at delivering a brooding sense of unease as you fumble around in the dark.
Although Apsoluv is an indie title, it does a great job with the visuals. The Unreal Engine powers the game, so the environments look pretty good. There’s plenty of crawling around through dark air ducts at the start of the game, but your surroundings become a lot more interesting once travel to the other realms becomes possible. Apsoluv is still a very dark game, though, but it makes good use of lighting to keep things atmospheric. Unfortunately, the characters in the game look a little less polished than their surroundings, but this doesn’t matter too much when it comes to the enemies, as it often makes them seem even more disturbing. The exception is the wolf creature, which could definitely have benefited from a bit more polish.
Apsoluv: End of Gods also features some impressive audio, and the soundtrack did a great job of keeping us on the edge of our seats. The game also has plenty of ambient noises and effects to make it clear that you are never alone in the dark. Your enemies sound just as unsettling as they look, and the actress who voices Alice did a great job. However, we were less impressed by the quality of the voice acting from some of the other characters, with Dr. Andersson, in particular, sounding a bit stiff.
Since Apsoluv: End of Gods is played from a first-person perspective, it works well with the standard WASD keyboard and mouse controls. However, the game can also be played with a controller if you are so inclined. Alice is able to run, jump and crouch while combat involves shooting energy beams at enemies once Jarngreipr is acquired. The range for this weapon is relatively low, though, and it has to be charged with multiple Etrium cells to be effective, so as we mentioned before, it’s usually better to stay out of sight. The game does have multiple difficulty settings, which influences how much of a nuisance enemies will be. In total, it took us about seven hours to complete the game, but there’s also an achievement for finishing it in less than 2 hours. We recommend taking your time with the game, though, at least on the first playthrough, as there’s also a New Game+ mode to unlock after completion.
Overall, Apsoluv: End of Gods offered a surprisingly enjoyable experience. Fans of Norse Mythology will appreciate the attention to detail in this game and the unique spin on some of the popular elements. Despite the jump-scares, the game is also not as terrifying as some of the other horror titles on the market but makes up for this with its fascinating story and incredible atmosphere. While it still has a few rough edges here and there, Apsoluv is definitely a hidden gem that deserves a lot more attention.
- Requires a 64-bit processor and operating system
- OS: Windows 7, 8, 8.1, 10 64-bit
- Processor: Intel core i3 or equivalent AMD
- Memory: 4 GB RAM
- Graphics: GTX760
- DirectX: Version 11
- Storage: 8 GB available space
- Sound Card: DirectX compatible
- Requires a 64-bit processor and operating system