February 4, 2023

It feels like every other day there’s some cool new Doom WAD spitting in God’s face and turning id’s classic shooter into FEAR or Super Mario 64 or something, but how about some love for Marathon, Bungie’s Mac-exclusive Doom clone and clear spiritual precursor to Halo? On October 1, modder hypersleep released Apotheosis X, an ambitious total conversion of Marathon Infinity that is definitely worthy of attention from retro FPS enthusiasts.

The aesthetic appeal is immediately apparent: Apotheosis X is much more colorful than the original Marathon games, with redesigned weapons and enemy sprites, as well as high-resolution textures and a custom soundtrack. The first few missions take place on a human cruiser, the amusingly named UESC Gingerbread Man, and they remind me the most of the starting level of Halo 2. It seems that the 23 levels of Apotheosis X players eventually rise to the surface of a alien world and the required eerie glowing ruins.

Apotheosis X also impressed me mechanically, with even base weapons behaving differently from their vanilla Marathon counterparts. For example, the gun is now a projectile-based plasma gun instead of the original hitscan magnum. The missions I played had that boomer-shooter feel of untying a knot in the design that I craved, but I started to feel like hypersleep might really be boiling with gas on the second map.

There are far more enemies here than you have ammo to deal with, but there are also switches to activate beefy, friendly drone fliers throughout the level. I got into this rhythm of running past packs of enemies to hit the big red button and summon my friends, almost like calling my older brother to deal with some bullies. I’m curious to see if Apotheosis X builds on these mechanics, or better yet, packs new and interesting quirks into each level as you go along, almost like a Nintendo platformer.

Apotheosis X was a long time coming. In the readme file, hypersleep describes that they released an unfinished version of it in 2007 when they were still a teenager and didn’t try to finish it until 2020. for the next two years, almost everything in the game was made from scratch.

That hard work and long time to seep has paid off in my opinion, and Apotheosis X is a commercial-quality retro shooter campaign that you can now play for free. Installation is a breeze, you just need to download the Aleph One open source version of Marathon Infinity and copy the executable into the Apotheosis X installer file available on Mod DB.

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dark purple alien ruins with cyan highlights

(Image credit: Bungie, user hypersleep on Mod DB)

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facing an alien in a purple and cyan lit alien building

(Image credit: Bungie, user hypersleep on Mod DB)

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looking out of a cave into a pink lit alien landscape

(Image credit: Bungie, user hypersleep on Mod DB)

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Aim rocket launcher at a floating alien in front of a blown hole in a ship's hull

(Image credit: Bungie, user hypersleep on Mod DB)

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overlooking a large, cavernous alien ruin

(Image credit: Bungie, user hypersleep on Mod DB)

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investigate a crash site with friendly people

(Image credit: Bungie, user hypersleep on Mod DB)

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darting away at an alien floating head in a lava-filled chamber

(Image credit: Bungie, user hypersleep on Mod DB)

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