I'm starting to see more and more games use Norse mythology and ditching Greek mythology. With games like God of War, Greek mythology was pretty much beaten to death in gaming, and ironically, with the new God of War Norse mythology has made a comeback, and I also believe this has a lot to do with the Marvel Avengers movies. You play as a person who belongs in this Norse realm resurrected by a scientist and you end up running around finding RFID keys, skulls, and upgrades for your arm.
Apsulov is a first-person horror adventure with a little bit of first-person action tossed in. This scientific base created around The World Tree is your main area and all you know is that you're supposed to gather these things for a scientist named Henrick. The RFID keys allow you to access new areas of the base and sometimes you will travel through the roots of the tree to other realms. These few levels consist of mostly action as you run around avoiding ice giants to gather the keys to lock the gate to Helheim. Some areas require stealth as you have to avoid creepy enemies, and then when you get your arm you can shoot them with a charged shot, but upgrades are needed to add more charge. This isn't very useful at first, but later in the game is becomes essential and then part of the actual story.
The atmosphere in Apsulov is pretty intense and scary with fantastically done ambient sounds of people screaming, squishing, torture, and creature sound designs. I wasn't so much creeped out, but incredibly tense through most sequences. The base does become a bit disorienting after a while as you actually do a lot of backtracking after the first half of the game is over and you will need to enter areas multiple times. Towards the end, this gets really annoying as you know you just went through this area and it's either slightly altered or you have to creep past the same enemies again. I also didn't like that when you die you are brought to some room where you must insert two orbs into a socket to open a portal. The problem is that Loki is running around here ready to get you and once you pick up and orb you can't run. You have to sneak around trying to get these things and if Loki gets you it's back to the last save point. If you get both orbs in than you can pick up right where you died. A really strange system for sure, and I didn't like it at all. Most of the time I just opted to restart from the save.
There aren't any boss fights except for the final boss which is actually pretty fun and makes good use of the arm. I did feel more powerful toward the end of the game and it made the ending pretty satisfying with an obvious hint at a possible sequel. I also didn't quite understand the story until the last 30 minutes when everything comes together. The game is really bad at delivering pieces of the story until this point and it makes playing seem somewhat pointless as audio logs tell you what's happening around you, but not what your purpose is. I wish this could have been spread about more as the game only lasts 4-5 hours. I also felt the arm upgrades were useless as the ending changes the way your arm is used and all the upgrades are meaningless. Even if you got all the upgrades (I was short 2) it only allows one extra charged shot and you still can't take down more than that as you must find a charging station or charging pods to refill your arm.
Outside of these minor issues, Apsulov is an interesting adventure game that really uses the Norse mythology well. I just wish it didn't only matter in the final moments of the game as the previous 4 hours felt pointless. I also never connected to any of the characters as they just weren't written very well, especially myself. The dialog is just a little sterile and when the game ended I knew I would quickly forget about this game in a few days. The story isn't even all that great despite making sense towards the end. With constant backtracking, a shooting mechanic that just doesn't ever feel right, Apsulov falls a bit short from becoming a sleeper hit or even game of the year material, but adventure game fans will love this.