Atomic Heart is the first game from developer Mundfish, who started as a four-man team and ended as a 130-team spread throughout the world by the end of the development process. The game was developed over five years and has been one of the most anticipated titles since its announcement in 2017. This long development time was caused by what Atomic Heart’s director said was a combination of youth, ambition, innovation, and new technology. Unfortunately, this combination has caused more problems than just a game being delayed in the past, so we don’t blame you for being nervous or skeptical about the delay. So then, was Atomic Heart worth the wait, and was Mundfish successful in its first attempt at creating a video game? Will it live up to the anticipation and hype, or will it disappoint?
Bioshock Clone or Original Masterpiece?
Atomic Heart has been called a BioShock clone ever since early gameplay footage was made available to eager fans. However, it was apparent while playing that it is a love letter to BioShock and other popular games. It was enjoyable but familiar.
The Polymer powers of Atomic Heart are like the Plasmid powers of BioShock. For instance, you can combine the powers of Telekinesis and Electricity for a shocking good time. However, the Polymer system is less in-depth and fluid than the Plasmids.
Atomic Heart takes place in an alternate dystopian open-world USSR very similar to the setting of Fallout, offering a post-war ‘50s aesthetic mixed with advanced technology. The protagonist is an anti-hero, and his persona and in-game commentary are straight from the Duke Nukem franchise. His throwaway one-liners, wit, and confidence make you feel like a badass action star from the get-go. While his persona may get old for some, it is hilarious and sets him apart from other games with silent protagonists.
Welcome to the Utopian USSR
The story of Atomic Heart centers around scientist Dmitry Sechenov, creator of polymerization. These advancements would eventually create a networked artificial intelligence called Kollektiv. After that, humans in the USSR lived in harmony with their robots until things went wrong.
Atomic Heart’s story about humankind creating an advanced AI only to have it sabotaged, leading to said AI killing and taking over humanity, has been beaten to death (I hope a terminator is sent to fight Kollektiv for AI supremacy). However, if you love sci-fi, you will love how this story is told through its anti-hero and colorful robots. Otherwise, you have permission to roll your eyes and move on to something else.
Humans and Robots and Mutants, Oh My!
Atomic Heart is brought to life with a great voice cast. Mundfish also used specialized equipment to create 3D scans of their actors’ faces to achieve realistic character animations. As a result, you can feel the characters’ emotions when they interact with each other. For example, one scene in particular where a general screams at another character will make your heart pump and make you thankful that you aren’t the one who earned his wrath.
Lately, there has been a rise in interactions between video game protagonists and inanimate objects. The charm is about to wear off, but it doesn’t happen in Atomic Heart. Instead, the interaction between P-3 and Charles is successful because of the well-written dialogue and strategic placement.
Atomic Heart shines with its design of the NPC robots that inhabit the USSR. The interactions will have you talking about them long after their scenes are over. Unfortunately, you will repeatedly face the same enemies with minor variations outside the boss’ battles spread throughout the game. It’s a shame for NPC characters to be well thought out while the game’s enemies are generic.
The Atomic Way
Atomic Heart combines elements from the first-person shooter, puzzle-solving, horror, action, and mystery genres into one neat package. There is something for everyone in this game, and you can play however you see fit.
In addition, you can rebuild your character without spending resources on resetting your skills. Don’t like a particular skill tree? No problem! You can reset your skill points for a full refund and try something new. This is also true for all the weapons you can build and upgrade. While it takes a lot of materials to craft and upgrade your weapons, you can disassemble them for a full refund of materials and build another weapon. You can have fun with the game without having to farm.
Player Discretion Advised
Atomic Heart earns every bit of its mature rating from the ESRB with lots of cursing, blood, gore, violence, and nudity. However, most of that is spread through the game and presented in manageable chunks, making it more bearable if it isn’t your thing. However, P-3’s cussing overstayed its welcome. Almost every conversation or reaction he has to a situation is filled with cuss words. While strategic cussing shows the gravity of the situation or adds a bit of comedy to an otherwise serious situation, the overuse in the game lessens its effect, and you grow to ignore it after a while. One last thing to mention about Atomic Heart is the ability to talk to dead people through the technology that has taken over. Some conversations you can have with them are not for the faint of heart.
Atomic Heart was well worth the wait, and we can see why it is one of the top ten most wish-listed games on Steam leading up to its release. You won’t be disappointed! Atomic Heart is polished, with fantastic voice acting, memorable characters, great animation, and intense action. The result is a game that will keep you wanting more. While Atomic Heart doesn’t bring anything new to the table, it brings flair to the concepts it borrows from games before it, making for a fun experience you will enjoy regardless of the game style you like. The game will have your heart pumping, funny bone aching, and brain working overtime!