A battle between good and medieval.
Please note: although Apocryph has released on Steam and is not an Early Access title, the developers have indicated that the game is not in a finished state and still has a lot more content and improvements forthcoming. To this end, we are treating this is as a preview rather than a review, and will issue a score once the game is declared complete.
You know the drill by now. An FPS. Inspired by classics of the 1990’s. Y’know, Doom, Quake, Heretic, Hexen, and the like. Lately we’ve been flooded by these types of games, enough so that people are referring to a “classic FPS renaissance”. It’s all good, and I sure do love my old-school shooters. And now, yet another title has crawled out of the woodwork, named Apocryph. The question, as always is: is it any good? Let’s take a look.
He did the monster mash.
I couldn’t find any reference to a proper story, but suffice to say you take on the role of a warlock-type character who battles monsters with an assortment of magic-powered weapons. The game’s world is a selection of gothic dungeons and hellish landscapes, filled to the brim with narrow corridors and monster closets. There’s also a small amount of key-hunting and switch-flipping to break up the monotony of the slaughter.
The game’s base shows competent grasp of level design and game creation. Things flow in such a way that you’re always finding an item, battling an enemy, or discovering a new path. The levels themselves are interesting, with complex, three-dimensional design and a decent amount of secrets. The only letdown is the occasional beginner’s trap: an example is in the second level, where a powerup is suspended over a pool of lava that the player is unable to see. Otherwise, this is quality workmanship that wouldn’t have been out of place in one of the Quake titles.
First-person shooter first, ask questions later.
Combat is satisfying. The weapons are fun to use, and are generally projectile-based. They include staves and other unidentifiable items, as well as sorcerous grenades that take up space in the player’s inventory. Most weapons are fueled by mana, which functions as ammo caches, and are to be found in large quantities in every map. Whether this is an issue depends on your preferences: do you like to be challenged by rationing your ammo tactfully, or do you enjoy the rush of enemies without concern for running low on firepower? This game leans more to the latter than the former, and seems somewhat more in line with the Painkiller games in that regard. In fact, some spots trap players in a small arena and flood it with monsters while heavy rock music plays. As a longtime Painkiller fan, this brought a smile to my face.
Unfortunately, this title has its share of problems, most of which are technical. The most glaring issue is poor optimization. I don’t exactly have a potato for a PC, yet the game suffers from frequent framerate drops. There are options to pixelate the graphics and cut out a lot of the animation, but this really makes things look terrible and clearly wasn’t how the game was designed. It also suddenly switched to Russian in the middle of a playthrough, and many other players report the game starting in Russian by default. I understand the developers are Russian and I don’t begrudge any developer for using their native tongue, but an option on first-time run would be best. Add clipping issues for enemy and the player, and you have an uncomfortable mess of bugs. It’s also not very long, though the developers are promising a lot more levels and over 10 hours worth of game time. Let’s hope they deliver.
Apocryph is a very solid game at its core and offers a fun experience for old-school FPS fans. However, the game is clearly unfinished, and I can’t recommend in its current unpolished state. Once the level roster is expanded, and once the glitches and optimization issues are addressed, then it’ll be definitely be worth the asking price. It’s definitely one to keep an eye on, and you can do so by following its official Steam page here.