A corrupt god has brought chaos to the land and it is up to you to save a world that has been ravaged by a cataclysm. This a common premise but if you have seen the game world, you know that the world you are about to explore is a very unique one. Is it unique enough to make this an unforgettable adventure?
The world itself in Atlas Fallen is quite bland. The story explains why but it doesn’t make exploring through an endless desert that has no natural beauty any more enjoyable. Exploring a barren wasteland where all aspects of nature have been decimated, you’ll find yourself wondering how any life is even sustainable here and this brings up the biggest issue the game has. Why even bother saving the world?
You could say this about any adventure game but generally, there is going to be something worth saving or some quest to avenge the death of a loved one. Those drivers feel worthless here. The natural world has been wiped out and there is nothing left. Occasionally, there will be areas where plant life has survived a little but not enough to sustain life. You are fighting to save humanity when there is nothing left to save. It makes the adventure feel quite depressing and pointless. Even if the evil presence were eliminated, the lush forests have been replaced with endless sand dunes.
Just because you are about to embark on an adventure that is without a cause, it doesn’t mean you can’t have some fun. The combat system is where things really start to get wild. It’s fast, it’s flashy, and it’s practically an airborne ballet! Who wouldn’t want to dance around, raining justice from the skies and obliterating everything that comes your way? The combat is not without its learning curve but once you’ve mastered the dance, it’s pure exhilaration.
And who can ignore the joy of sand surfing? It isn’t always the fastest mode of transportation, but damn it, it’s a lot of fun! There is an ability to give you a speed boost when you pick up a consumable item while surfing but those aren’t common enough to truly make sand surfing something you will use instead of fast travel, it is fun but just a bit too slow.
The voice acting is a bit of a double-edged sword. Ever felt like someone’s not really there when you’re talking to them? Imagine that, but in a game. Instead of feeling immersed, you feel like the voice is not being spoken from your current location. Many times you will find any natural reverb for the current location is not applied and you are just hearing clear voice work straight from a recording booth. You might be in a dark cave but the voice just sounds crisp and clear with no echo. The voice work is good and there’s quite a lot of it, even for minor conversations but the ambience of the location is often omitted.
The load screens are another load of… sand. Especially when you die, which believe me, happened quite a lot during my adventure. Isn’t it just the icing on the cake when you have to sit through the same dialogue and cutscenes every time you respawn at a combat checkpoint? You would hope modern SSDs would cut load screens down but even if they can’t, reload at the start of the boss fight, not before the 5 minute cut scene that I need to skip through 20 times.
The narrative is like a mirage in the desert. It promises something, but the closer you get, the more it slips through your fingers. The cataclysm has left a world not worth saving. The hostile, barren landscape, the fractured communities, the lifeless emptiness all perfectly highlighted in a brown, moon-like colour palette, it just feels like fighting for the ashes of a world that is dead. Every new settlement you find you will ask, how are you guys living out here, theres no food or any natural resources! With it being a medieval fantasy, there is no advanced technology to aid survival.
The UI, especially for the skills, is a masterclass in clutter. If you thought your junk drawer in the kitchen was a mess, you’re in for a surprise. You can equip a selection of different abilities and powers, some of which are passive and some are activated. They trigger in combat when you damage enemies enough within a short space of time and do not take damage from certain attacks. It’s a really cool system but it’s hard to get an idea of what abilities are best.
There may be a few abilities that impact your defence and damage but they might say something like “Greatly increases damage”. What does that mean in terms of percentages? There’s no way to know how much better some abilities are than others when using this language. So you just have lots of trial and error which is not as enjoyable as it seems when you have a huge number of abilities in your inventory with different levels and perks.