An independent Russian game studio called Mundfish released their debut effort ‘Atomic Heart’ just a few weeks ago. What began as a small effort quickly evolved into something humongous once crowd funding and hype got aboard the hype train. After years of teasers and tech demos, we finally got to play it.
You play as Major P-3, a highly skilled combat agent who is constantly assisted by his AI-enhanced power glove named CHAR-les. It’s a fictional world that is seen through the perspective of if communist Russia put science before all else. The game begins with you entering a very lush and busy city via a gondola boat. The streets are crowded with hundreds of citizens, street vendors, androids, and parades. Its a big day because one of society’s biggest scientists and contributors is debuting a new device that essentially allows you to interact with machines via the mind – which does feel nearly identical to Bioshock Infinite’s grand opening once you enter the floating city. But shortly afterwards, a terrorist hijacks all electric feeds that control the AI enhanced robots and they go on a killing spree.
It’s a very beautiful game right out the gate. The graphics are humongous for an independent studio and the world itself feels very rich. It plays out like a linear RPG where you have one main quest line that the game really pushes for you to pursue, but there’s all sorts of extra rooms, dungeon-like buildings, secret weapon bases, and more that tempt you to explore.
You operate a melee or shooting weapon in your right hand while using your power glove with your left- which has multiple abilities you can choose and upgrade such as electric bolts, ice beams, and plenty of others. The combat is a bit strange, almost like Calisto Protocol with the duking method, mixed with the dual-wielding approach of Bioshock 2. For some it can be a bit tedious and complicated, while I found it challenging and interesting.
The game is honestly pretty hard. The opponents take a lot of damage to die, are powerful, often ambush and overwhelm you, and even some of the flying robot-drones you destroy are quickly regenerated and basically never leave you alone.
It’s hard to lump this game into any one category. It does have the heart of an RPG (with the upgrading skill trees, looting systems, and multiple ways to complete a goal) while also giving us a unique fighting/shooting game that feels reminiscent of past favorites while trying to stay original. It’s fun, beautiful, and quite massive. It’s not perfect by any means and it does have a fair share of complaints, but I’ve been waiting years to play this and I’m quite satisfied with the result. The main character is obnoxious and talks too much, the gameplay is a bit complicated, there’s no real directional marker, and there’s a vending machine that violently wants to have sex with you.. but there’s also an awful lot to love.
“Atomic Heart” is currently available on Xbox One, Xbox Series X/S, PS4 & PS5, and Microsoft Windows.
‘Til Next Time,
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