Atomic Heart is set in an alternate universe where the Soviet Union has become a technological superpower. The game introduces an interesting alternative history that shows how Soviet Russia could have used its power to achieve something great. It is an incredibly interesting concept that may be a little uncomfortable considering the current political climate.
The game’s visual style is incredible. The idea of going back in time and seeing a world filled with advanced robots and technology far beyond what we have today while also looking like a product of its time is a masterclass of artistic creativity. It is very hard not to immediately think of a game like Bioshock, a game that many try to be but rarely become.
The game is set in an area of soviet Russia, where players take on the role of a KGB officer sent to investigate the cause of why all of their advanced robots have suddenly started to attack humanity. It remains a solid premise and drives the story very strongly throughout the game. One thing that is quite odd is that this Russian officer has an American accent, as do all other characters in the game but perhaps this was a consequence of Russia’s current unpopularity on the world stage.
The game’s alternate history and political story are one of the standout features of the game. It’s interesting to see that even when Russia was able to use its wealth of resources and knowledge to become a technological superpower that brings good to the world, classic Russian corruption wins. The game’s story is deep and complex, and while at times it is a little tricky to follow, it is highly appealing and unique. It certainly does not come across as Russian propaganda like the boycott movement is suggesting. This game portrays Russia quite poorly.
Atomic Heart”s visual style is one of its greatest strengths. The artists behind the creation of this game had such a fantastically creative vision and it is a true achievement to see this brought to life. The game’s environments are incredibly detailed, and the game’s alternate universe has a striking aesthetic. It is clear that the developers have put a lot of effort into creating a visually stunning game.
As you get into the thick of things, you will develop a phenomenal hunger to explore. You can’t help but want to see more of this amazing world. Unfortunately, the game’s open-world elements are disappointing. The game tries to deliver a Far Cry-style experience but fails to give players anything interesting to do. The game’s world is vast, but it lacks any real depth. It often feels empty and uninteresting, with little reward for taking on the unending horde of machines.
The game’s combat system is fairly standard for a first-person shooter. There is a strong emphasis on using melee weapons and while it feels unfair at first to be using an axe to take down several bots, you really start to enjoy it once you get the hang of dodging. Energy weapons are powered by a battery pack which is charged from using melee attacks forcing you to get to grips with the melee combat.
There is a diverse array of different enemies you will come up against, all with impressive levels of creativity in their design and offensive capabilities, this keeps combat feeling interesting as you always have to alter your approach.
There is a real issue with the repair of robots, however, most notably when you are out exploring the map. When you destroy a robot, it can be repaired within 20-30 seconds, bringing it back to full health. This is really frustrating when you are dealing with several enemies at once. They are repairing faster than you can kill them and you will soon run out of ammo when there is no way to stop them from repairing. Sometimes you just have to run away and accept that this is never going to be a battle you can win, no matter what weapons you have.
Considering how much effort was put into building the deep back story for this world and the detailed story, it seems odd how shallow the main character is. He comes across as an incredibly immature teenager. His attitude level is like that of a 1990s WWF wrestler who is overly aggressive for nothing. He is dealing with too many emotions and doesn’t have the capacity to deal with them outside of swearing excessively.
The game’s use of puzzles is another interesting aspect of the game. Similar to games like Half-Life, the game’s puzzles are challenging and add another layer to the game. Making your way through labs and other underground structures requires you to deal with some platforming puzzles which are quite fun overall. The biggest issue is that some of the platforming is quite unforgiving, with no checkpoints. Falling off a platform often means you have to start again from the very start, which can be frustrating.
Atomic Heart is a game with a lot of potential. The game’s alternate history and political story are impressive, and the game’s visual style is stunning. However, the game’s open-world elements are disappointing, and the game’s combat system has its flaws. The game’s use of puzzles is interesting, but it can also be frustrating. The main character is also a bit of a letdown. Despite its flaws, Atomic Heart is a game worth playing for those interested in alternative history and political stories, and for those who appreciate a visually spectacular game.