“Atomic Heart”: Alternate timeline Russia is an adventure


Photo courtesy of: Mundfish

“Atomic Heart” is the first game developed by the studio Mundfish. It was released on Feb. 20.

“Atomic Heart” is a first-person action role-playing game that released on Feb. 20. Developed by Mundfish, a new studio that started back in 2017, “Atomic Heart” is their first game and it is chock full of creativity and inspiration from the “Bioshock” series.

The game starts with a beautiful intro and showcases a now modernized and alternate version Russia where robots are a thing and there are flying cities. In this timeline, Russia made many scientific advancements and made a utopian society during the USSR era. Here, you play as a special agent named Major Alekseyevich Nechaev, aka “P-3”. P-3 is tasked to meet with a Russian scientist, Dmitry Sechenov, to get his next mission: investigate what is happening in Facility 3826, as the robots have gone rampant and started attacking people.

In my playtime, around 10 hours, the story is interesting but also lackluster in many aspects. The writing is solid for the most part but there are some inconsistencies with the story and it was confusing during my first playthrough. Where the writing shines is through the background lore and there is plenty of it to fill any detail-oriented gamer’s need for detail.

Then we get to the characters. A story is incomplete without its characters and “Atomic Heart” has some great ones. Most of the characters have depth and motives for why they are doing what they are doing. You have a modern “Baba-Yaga” who mysteriously knows who you are and why you are at Facility 3826. Your companion is a talking glove named “Charles” who has quips and provides more detail to the story.

There is one character that just drags down the tone, writing, and overall story of the game: the main character. P-3 is written like an edgy 14-year-old who just learned how to cuss. He talks a lot in the game but doesn’t add a whole lot to the overall plot, minus some parts. He is just annoying throughout most of the game. But when he isn’t being 14-years-old, which is 85% of his character, he actually has some depth.

“It’s a little exhausting and the presence of modern turns of phrase don’t exactly help keep the overall experience seated in the 1950s [when the game takes place],” Luke Rielly of IGN said.

one thing that isn’t an issue is the graphics and art direction. “Atomic Heart” is beautiful with its environment and the design of its world. I don’t really stand in awe over this stuff, but the art direction mixed with the graphic fidelity makes it amazing.

The music is on another level too. It is a mix of old orchestra and 50s-style music. The legendary Mick Gordon of Doom and Wolfenstein fame even composed some music for “Atomic Heart”. The old-timey music is great when you are exploring and makes it feel even like the 50s, minus the robots. During boss fights, you hear some metal influences that just hit hard during the fight.

Speaking of fights, the gameplay is very good as well. This is where the Bioshock inspiration bleeds in a little, outside of the premise. Charles is not only a companion but a weapon that is the equivalent of the plasmids in “Bioshock”. While Charles is a major part of combat, you have melee options and guns, both of which feel great. The overall combat is very fluid and feels like every hit matters.

While there are a good amount of positives, there is one overarching issue with the game. You can’t manually save whenever but there are save points that are strewn throughout the environment. This causes some issues as even on medium difficulty, the game is hard. Some save points are not close in the slightest. You could lose anywhere from 10 to 30 minutes of progress if you aren’t careful, which happened to me.

“Atomic Heart is a surprising, ambitious, deeply flawed game that at times feels close to greatness . . .But it is always reaching for the stars. Even if Atomic Heart never quite fully grasps them, that has to count for something.” Rich Stanton of PC Gamer said.

Overall, the game has some major flaws that hold it back the game from being an all-time classic in my eyes. It has a great foundation and is a great first step for Mundfish in the development world. I would give it an 8.5/10 overall due to those hiccups and it just barely misses the mark for me. Its ambition is there and I look forward to Mundfish creating more worlds.