Who’d have thought that something could possibly go wrong in a seemingly harmonious utopia where humans live alongside their servant robots? It’s a recipe for disaster, and Atomic Heart proves that in its opening sequence when the robots take a psychotic turn and decide they want to savagely dispose of their human counterparts. It makes for a first-person experience that will certainly appeal to fans of the Bioshock series, though some iffy pacing issues and technical problems do stop the game from living up to its pre-release hype.
Check out some screenshots down below:
Atomic Heart puts players in the role of Sergei (codenamed P-3), who lives in a Soviet empire that has seen vast advancements in science thanks to the work of the brilliant Doctor Sechenov and his polymer technology. Alas, technological advancements aren’t ALWAYS a good thing, and this is made abundantly clear when the robots that are meant to serve humanity end up running riot on one of the Soviet’s floating cities, with Sergei having to fight through them to bring their carnage to an end and find out what exactly is going on behind the scenes.
The narrative is intriguing throughout and has some clever ideas, but the pacing of Atomic Heart could see some events dragging out a lot longer than they needed to. It’s a meaty game with plenty to do, but a lot of it felt like filler that could leave some aspects of the experience feeling stale. The twists-and-turns of the tale were still exciting, but the storytelling would have benefited if everything was just trimmed down a little.
Oh, and the dialogue? It’s a very mixed bag. Whilst a lot of the cast were entertaining to encounter, I winced just about every time Sergei opened his mouth. This is one of those games that would have DEFINITELY benefited from a silent protagonist, with some of the things he says just proving to be cringeworthy. And sure, there are some other characters you meet that are a little weird, but at least they’re interesting; Sergei is just a bland action-man that says a lot stupid things.
“Atomic Heart does try to do a lot of things and for the most part it succeeds in delivering an enjoyable experience, but, as mentioned, the long run-time does see some of its ideas running dry towards the later hours.”
When it comes to gameplay, Atomic Heart reminds me a LOT of the Bioshock series. Whilst you’re armed with a decent selection of weaponry to take down enemies, the bigger emphasis is placed on using your special polymer glove and its more unique abilities. With abilities such as shocking or freezing enemies, telekinesis to lift enemies in the air, and a special shield to protect the player from damage, your glove can be utilised in a variety of creative ways to ensure you have the upper hand over your foes. Each ability can be upgraded in an abundance of creative ways too, with Sergei feeling like a real powerhouse towards the game’s later chapters.
It ensures combat is fun and engaging, whilst being able to utilise varied approaches such as stealthily avoiding enemies or going all-guns blazing means there’s a bit of variety to each scenario you face in the game. There’ll be times when you face an onslaught of enemies and your survival instincts will have to kick in, but Sergei is also a dab-hand at dodging enemy attacks, so it never feels overwhelming nor does it force you to just shoot and hope for the best. It all adds to the depth of the game’s combat and ensures it stands out as a highlight of the experience.
You’ve got a bit of puzzling, crafting, and light platforming thrown in for good measure, whilst there are plenty of side activities to dive into to flesh out exploration. The most prominent of the side activities are the Polygons, which are essentially areas that focus on the puzzling aspects of the game to give the player various rewards – they’re a neat addition that challenge the player to do something a little different. Atomic Heart does try to do a lot of things and for the most part it succeeds in delivering an enjoyable experience, but, as mentioned, the long run-time does see some of its ideas running dry towards the later hours. The gameplay was fun enough that I never got bored when playing and there were plenty of cool scenarios to keep the excitement up, but there were times where I just wanted to move onto the next part of the story.
Check out some screenshots down below:
One of the things that caught my eye pre-release was just how pretty Atomic Heart looked in screenshots and videos, so I’m happy to report that it’s just as beautiful to play. Environments, enemies, and your weaponry are rich with detail and always look impressive, whilst there’s a unique sense of identity to the world that just makes it feel so alluring to explore. It feels like there’s always something stunning to see across the world, and whilst it might be a little unsettling to explore, it never failed to keep me in awe – whether that’s when exploring some of the more open locales or the more claustrophobic confined areas. Add to that the steady performance that never really faltered and it’ll be easy to see that Atomic Heart does at least live up to the pre-release hype as far as its presentation is concerned.
It’s just a shame that there are plenty of small technical issues that hinder the experience. I saw visuals bugs, objects not working when interacted with, enemies getting stuck in the environment, the occasional crash… you name it, it has it. Whilst it was definitely playable from start to finish (and there’d even be times where I would go hours without anything going wrong), Atomic Heart has its fair share of issues that will cause players more than a few frustrations.
Atomic Heart Review
Atomic Heart is a fun game with some cool ideas and inventive combat, but some technical and pacing issues do hold it back. It’s not that I ever got bored when playing, but playing through some drawn-out scenarios waiting for the next exciting thing to happen could get a little dull at times – especially since I suffered a few crashes that forced me to replay through a few sections all over again. And don’t get me started on the protagonist’s dialogue…
It’s flawed, but there’s still a LOT I liked about the game. The combat is slick, the world design and visuals are fantastic, and the story definitely kept me intrigued right until the very end. It could have just done with trimming a bit of its filler, whilst a bit more development time could have seen the more obvious technical hindrances ironed out.
Publisher: Focus Entertainment
Platform(s): PlayStation 5 (Reviewed), PlayStation 4, Xbox Series X|S, Xbox One, PC