We’ve seen plenty of farming-sims hit PC and consoles over the years, but few see you protecting your crops from mutants by blasting them to smithereens. That’s what you’ll be doing in Atomicrops, the post-apocalyptic ‘farming-sim’ that sees you farming in the day and defending your crops from an assortment of vicious creatures in the night in twin-stick shooting action. It’s a bloody zany concept, but it’s one that makes for a fun and challenging experience.
Atomicrops’ gameplay is broken down into two main things: farming and twin-stick shooting. The farming aspect sees you preparing the soil, planting seeds, watering them, and then harvesting everything that grows – it’s a process that’ll feel familiar to anyone that has played a farming game before. It plays out much quicker here though, with a satisfyingly frantic level of organisation required from the player as they bounce across the farmland and make sure they grow their crops efficiently and keep them safe from any invaders in the night hours. I did mention that your farm is constantly under threat from mutants, right?
Whilst you’re mainly taking on the role of a farmer in Atomicrops, you’re also armed with weapons to help you take down the enemies that are constantly lurking around and causing chaos. If you’ve played a twin-stick shooter before, you’ll know exactly how this works: you’ll run around with the left stick and blast away at enemies with the right, all whilst maintaining your distance and making quick defensive manoeuvres to keep out of the way from incoming fire. Of course, you’ll have to do all of this whilst continuing to perform tasks on the farm at the same time, which can be pretty hard-going despite the simplicity of the process itself.
It’s all pretty frantic and will definitely push your skills to the limit, but if you manage to survive the night you’ll get to visit the town and turn some of your hard-earned cash into additional weapons, seeds to sow, bridge-building kits to further explore the land around you, or items to help out on your farmland. The additional weapons will make taking out the mutants a lot easier but are limited to one day’s use, so you’ll want to plan out your actions and currency efficiently to make the most of them. Those bridge parts can be mighty useful too, especially since they’ll help you access new areas, unlock new seeds, or even come across animals that can also help out in defending or tending to the farm. Seeing your farm build up with additional vegetation and animals was one of the most enjoyable aspects of the game and there’s no denying that Atomicrops has an incredibly satisfying cycle to it, especially since building up your farms means you can earn more cash with each successful day that passes.
One hallmark of farming-sims is the ability to woo some local villager and get married, so it’s neat to see that Atomicrops has interweaved a bit of romance into all of its farming and mutant slaying. This actually works out as one of the simpler aspects of gameplay, with the player simply having to collect roses and give them to their partner of choice in the town. This brings with it an assortment of benefits, with the player unlocking buffs and perks that’ll help them out during their farming or killing antics – give them enough roses and they’ll eventually marry you, giving you an extra pair of hands to help out on the farm. That being said, the rose count to do this is pretty high and they can also be better spent at the doctors to restore your own health, so a successful romance and marriage isn’t guaranteed each run.
Atomicrops adopts rogue-like gameplay mechanics, so you can expect to lose your progress, inventory and farmland when you die. However, there is a permanent upgrade system in place that is accessed by completing a season, which is the equivalent of three days in-game – you’ll earn cornucopias based around your progress which can then be spent on boosts that’ll remain even if you die or start a new run. Seasons always end with an epic boss fight though, with each making for a fun but challenging showdown that is oozing in creativity and variety. Atomicrops is guilty of being a bit by the book as far as its twin-stick shooting is concerned, but it certainly showed just how imaginative it can be with the horde of vicious boss mutants it sends your way at the end of a season.
It all comes together to make for a frantic and addictive experience, with the mash-up of genres certainly proving quirky and fun. That being said, I felt like I saw everything it had to offer after a few hours play, with the cycle of farming and fighting growing a little repetitive over time. Don’t get me wrong, it didn’t stop being fun to play and the zany nature of the game ensures there are plenty of wacky situations to find yourself in during gameplay, but I did feel like I was just doing a lot of the same things over and over in the hope of progressing a little bit further. Atomicrops is tough and it’s easy to see all of your work in a season go to waste because of some brutal battle you didn’t survive, with ‘game overs’ to be expected on a regular basis.
Some of this is owed to the random nature of the game too, with some runs proving more unfavourable than others as far as the items you can find or the land you can explore is concerned. But hey, it’s the nature of rogue-likes, so if you’re a fan of the genre I’m sure you’ll appreciate the unpredictability this randomness brings – even if it doesn’t always swing in your favour.
Atomicrops is an entertaining and unconventional addition to the ‘farming-sim’ genre, with its quick paced farming and frantic action making for a good time.
It can also be pretty tough though, with its random nature and brutal mutant baddies certainly putting both your farming and shooting skills to the test. It’s all part of the experience though, and whilst Atomicrops can get a little repetitive in places, it’s still a neat and unique rogue-like that fans of the genre will certainly appreciate.
Developer: Bird Bath Games
Publisher: Raw Fury
Platform(s): Nintendo Switch (Reviewed), PlayStation 4, Xbox One, PC