Stunning Video Game Is Like An Ancient Greek Urn Come To Life

Apotheon is the game John Keats might have made if he were a game designer.

In May 1819, John Keats left his job as an assistant surgeon at Guy’s Hospital in London to dedicate himself to the full-time task of writing poetry. He composed five poems, of which, “Ode To A Grecian Urn” is the most famous. It imagines the painted figures on the side of an ancient Greek vase coming to vivid life, right before his eyes.


If Keats had been alive 200 years later, he might have quit his job and become a game developer, not a poet. And if he had, Apotheon, a new game for the PC and PS4, might be his “Ode To A Grecian Urn.” It takes the gameplay of classic side-scrollers like Legend of Zelda II and Castlevania and applies it to the side of an Athenian amphora, bringing the art of ancient Greece to vivid life.

In Apotheon, you play Nikandreos, a soldier on a quest to defeat Zeus when Hera, Queen of Olympus, calls on him to bring down the corrupt pantheon of Greek gods. That’s pretty much the same plot as Sony’s bloody, boob-heavy God of War franchise, but where the latter might task you with, say, ripping the skull and spinal column out of Hermes, Mortal Kombat-style, and then using it as a flail to beat Aphrodite to death, Apotheon is a more lyrical affair, as elegant as the art that inspired it.

The game’s biggest design innovation is its art style, which matches the ruddy silhouetted look of black-figure and red-figure art that took over Greek pottery between the late sixth century and early fourth century BC[/url]. In addition to the Elgin marbles and other sculptures, this is the style that we in the 21st century consider synonymous with ancient Greece. Yet when we look at them in museums, what we see, more often than not, are just a bunch of dusty old pots. We forget that to the ancient Greeks, these vases would have been experienced with the same sort of excitement as we experience video games now.

In that sense, playing Apotheon is like traveling back in time, allowing you to experience Greek art the way it originally would have been experienced by less jaded eyes. Buy Apotheon for $15 here.