- 1 From a nameless weakling to destroying a tyrannical god and saving people
- 2 How to play it?
- 3 What about optimization, visual and audio support?
- 4 What I didn’t like?
- 5 Five Things to Know About Atlas Fallen
5 reasons to buy Atlas Fallen
- You want a game where epic battles with mysterious creatures are constantly happening
- Atlas Fallen allows you to create a unique fighting style thanks to a variety of skills
- You've been looking for a story-driven game for a long time to play with a friend
- You are not ready to spend more than 20 hours in one game
- Have already forgotten what real sand looks like and want to look at it at least in the game
3 reasons not to buy Atlas Fallen
- What you value most in games is an interesting plot, but here there are problems with that
- You have no one to complete the game with
- You can't stand sand
From a nameless weakling to destroying a tyrannical god and saving people
It all starts with a display of illustrations, where a mysterious woman’s voice talks about the world of Atlas Fallen. It is led by Talos, the Sun God, who has established a dictatorship and forces ordinary mortals to collect the mysterious Essence, which he needs to realize his plans. For years people bowed their heads before Talos and his army and fulfilled all his wishes. However, here ordinary people are considered trash, they don't even have a name, and they are called Unnamed. But the woman behind the scenes says that she is tired of this and needs to finally start taking action. But who is this woman and how will she fight?
Illustrations that tell about the world of the game and open the passage of Atlas Fallen
After this, we begin to play as an incomprehensible blue creature that resembles Avatar. We go through training, learn about the basic mechanics of the game, and now we need to create our character. You can play as a man or a woman and customize all the facial features as the player wants. This is just a cosmetic customization, and your choices will not affect stats, skills, personality, or anything else. But what kind of role-playing game is this where you can’t create your own character?
Having created a character, the main event of the game begins, where some points of the plot become clear. We play as one of the Nameless Ones, who transported the Essence with his caravan. But the Queen, the right hand of Telos, told the caravan to take a different route. They were attacked, the Essence was lost, there was a sandstorm outside and no one knew what to do next.
1) An incomprehensible blue creature for which we are taught the basic mechanics of the game; 2) The process of creating your own character for whom we will play until the end of the game
But our main character decides not to lose heart, but to gather a small detachment around himself and begin to negotiate better conditions with Morrath, the caravan commander. Morrat, according to all the laws of the genre, turns out to be as cruel as Talos, and invites our hero to find a thief outside the camp who stole an important thing from him, and then perhaps there will be some kind of dialogue.
The camp where Nameless and other slaves found themselves
And so, after walking a few meters, the Nameless One finds a secret glove, which is called the Gauntlet here, and now he has magical powers that will help him a little later. Having found the thief, we return to the camp, Morrat wants to take the glove from us, turmoil begins, the hero still retains the glove, the introduction of the game ends, and we find ourselves at the first large location of the Atlas.
Morrat tries to take our glove away
The glove, as it turns out, hides many interesting secrets. It contains Nyaal, another god who was imprisoned long ago by Talos. This is the same “blue Avatar” that we played for at the beginning. And now our new duo must stop Talos, his servants and bring peace and prosperity to Atlas.
Gauntlet, which hides the spirit of the god Njal
After this, players will have an adventure of about 15 hours, where they will have to step by step get closer and closer to Talos and at the same time deal with the problems of the characters and settlements that we will meet along the way. It’s difficult to call Atlas Fallen an outstanding plot. There will rarely be unexpected plot twists, drama or any emotions. This is a story that most have seen in films, games or read in books – a loser hero in one day turns into the strongest man in the world, gives hope to humanity and now everything will be different. And even a long-familiar genre can bring fresh ideas, as was the case in The Last of Us, where the theme of a virus that turns people into something like zombies offered a completely different perspective on the post-apocalypse. But Atlas Fallen cannot boast of this. If you don’t care about the plot, but just want to run around, fight and open all the chests, then there shouldn’t be any problems. But if story is what you value most in games, then the Deck13 project can quickly become boring.
The first open location we find ourselves in after joining
Characters who did not fully cope with their task
The characters have an “interesting” story here. There are plenty of them in the game, but I don’t even remember what most of them are called. They have their own history, conflicts, different situations, but all this is not sufficiently disclosed and in front of you there are mainly “talking heads” who give a new quest and can discuss everyday things. The only thing that the developers have succeeded in is that the characters here do not disappear and live their own lives. If I helped a woman at the first location, I will meet her later, she will tell me how they ended up here, what she does and can offer a new task. And there are enough such situations here, only if these characters had charisma, because the only one I liked was a traveling merchant who can joke and tell something interesting. It would be better for the developers to reduce the number of characters and work on them more. For example, in God of War 2018, the game world is also semi-open, but we do not meet a large number of heroes, although almost everyone we saw: from Mimir to Baldur, is remembered for a long time.
The woman I helped at the beginning of the game meets later, which makes the game world feel at least a little alive
The game world, which is difficult to find an analogue
You can’t immediately remember a lot of games with a lot of sand, except for Sable and Journey, so Deck13 had an advantage in the setting, which they did not manage to use wherever possible, as happened with the same post-apocalypse or futuristic future. Thanks to the semi-open world, you can explore the area without spending dozens of hours and quickly navigate it, which is ideal for those who need to complete the game in 4-7 days. All sorts of chests, notes, secrets, castles, settlements, camps, caves are scattered around the world, and there are plenty of them here. They don’t want to overfed you with hundreds of activities, but the map doesn’t feel too empty, especially since Nameless One slides with sand as if on ice, which makes movement fast, and fast travel points in the form of anvils, which are scattered every 200-400 meters, help even more. And there are practically no moments when you don’t understand how to get somewhere. The only thing I would like to see is random events when, for example, someone attacks a small settlement. This would definitely make the game world come alive, but overall it is implemented well here.
How to play it?
And now the most interesting part of the game – the gameplay. In addition to exploring the sandy Atlas and collecting various small items, we will have to constantly fight, and this moment is realized best in Atlas Fallen.
Fight until all your boots are covered in sand and your hands are sweaty
We will fight against the sand creatures that Talos created. Most of them resemble animals: birds, crabs, lions and others, and are divided into two categories: small and large. In order to defeat them, we use our glove, which can transform into three types of weapons:
- Dunecleaver– a heavy weapon that resembles a hammer and is suitable for delivering strong blows at short and medium distances.
- Sandwhip – the fastest weapon in sword form. Most effective at long distances and suitable for keeping enemies at a distance and away from you.
- Knuckledust – fist weapon, for delivering a large number of blows to one target at close range.
Dunecleave, Sandwhip, Knuckledust
The player carries two types of weapons at the same time, but three profiles can be created to create unique sets and switch between them immediately in the game. Only you can’t switch between profiles during a fight.
But everything is not limited to weapons. During battles with creatures, players can dodge, fly into the air, and counterattack. If you repel attacks in time, the enemies will be affected by the cold effect, and they will freeze like statues for a few seconds. This works on all enemies and is most effective against pesky birds and creatures that resemble lions and put a shield in front of them, forcing them to attack from behind.
View of some enemies
A system of “parts” works against large enemies. You need to attack in special zones to win. For example, a sand crab has a head and two claws. These zones are always shown on the side of the screen and how much damage we have done. There are yellow and red parts. If you knock down all the red parts, the creature will automatically die. The only thing that is not clear in this system is that if you beat off a conditional crab’s claw, it will still attack with it. Theoretically, this should have worked like in the Horizon series, where there is a very similar system, and if you knock off some part of the machine’s body, it will not be able to use it, but here this point was not fully developed.
A system of “parts” that shows how much and where to hit a large enemy
And the cherry on the cake – Essence Stones. These are special perks that you can add to your arsenal and they will help during battle. There are passive perks, like increasing damage, and there are active ones that create a tornado or create a blast wave around you. In total, you can wear 11 stones, 3 of which will be active (there is also an additional stone that cannot be changed, and it is responsible for health regeneration). Stones are divided into 1, 2, 3 categories. The higher the category, the better the stones. There are about 50 stones in the game, you can get them by completing quests, finding them in chests or buying them. But in order for the stones to work, you need to actively attack enemies, which fills a special Momentum scale. To activate stones of the 1st category, a little Momentum is enough, and for the last one you will have to beat everyone in the arena thoroughly.
The place where all the player's Essence Stones are collected
In general, the combat system in the game turned out to be epic and intense. You are not allowed to rest, so every encounter with the enemy here is intense. In some places, battles can give such emotions when you have been actively pressing all possible buttons for several minutes, there is a boss and small enemies around you, but you cannot stop, and you need to emerge victorious. And after the last blow, you exhale, are glad that you passed this fragment and just want to catch your breath for a minute. You can also play the game with a friend, and when you two use different stones and weapons, it becomes much more fun and adds even more epic to the battles with these sand monsters.
Minimum pumping system
Also, Stones can be improved to increase their performance. To do this, you need to collect all kinds of plants and ore that are scattered throughout the game world. To be more stylish in Atlas, you will have to upgrade your armor. This is, of course, not The Witcher, and you shouldn’t expect dozens of different armor here, but the developers have prepared several interesting sets. Some of them will be given to you during the story, some can be purchased in the store, and the rest will have to be found by completing additional quests. Each armor has its own unique characteristics. One set improves your defense, and the other enhances your attacks, so it’s up to you to decide with what armor to liberate this world. Sets can also be upgraded twice at the anvil, using essence that drops from creatures and is given for completing quests. All other items (and armor too) are bought for gold, which is scattered wherever possible.
In the Atlas you can always meet merchants who offer to purchase Essence Stones, armor, treasure maps and various items
Explore the Atlas to complete all activities
To diversify the gameplay of Atlas Fallen at least a little, the developers have added several types of activities. Not everything will be mentioned here in order to maintain intrigue for those who will still play through the game.
- Chests – dozens of chests are scattered around the world in which you can find gold, essence, resources and Essence Stones.
- Treasure maps – you need to find three parts of a treasure map to see the location in which a special chest is hidden that will give various bonuses
- Magical animals – sometimes you can find an animal that will lead you to a place where valuable resources are hidden, the main thing is to follow the animal quietly and not attract it attention.
- Fragments for the glove – to unlock new capabilities of the glove, you will have to look for special fragments. Some are quite easy to pick up, sometimes you need to overcome enemies, and in others you need to quickly activate crystals to pick up a fragment.
- Notes– There are many notes scattered throughout the Atlas that will help you understand the world of the game and discover certain details of this story.
- Anvil – a place where you can upgrade your weapon, save the game and quickly move to another anvil.
Additional quests that sometimes get boring
More will be said about the monotony of tasks, but here it’s a disaster with additional quests (and sometimes with the main ones). It’s 2023, and some games show stagnation in the development of quests. I don’t want to complete ten quests with the same type of “fetch-give” order. Performing such tasks several times is okay. But when all they can offer you is to collect 5 notes or bring 5 coins, it’s not interesting. If we go back to God of War 2018, there were additional quests that allowed you to open new regions, learn interesting stories, or reveal the character of the heroes. There is almost no such thing here. The only quests that allowed you to open new locations and gain emotions were the assignment to save the miners or the choice to hand over the thief to be arrested or not. You want to finish everything else as soon as possible in order to get your reward and move on with the plot. It would be better if the game had only a few additional quests, and the emphasis went on the main story. Therefore, I advise you to complete all additional quests in the first large location in order to get enough gold and essence, upgrade your equipment and move exclusively according to the plot, so as not to waste time on the same type of tasks.
An additional quest where you need to clear the mine, which allows you to open a new location
What about optimization, visual and audio support?
There were no problems with optimization on PlayStation 5. Several times FPS could drop to 50, but this lasted no more than 3 seconds. I am sure that with the release of the first day patch, this problem will not exist. During my entire playthrough, I never encountered any bug, didn’t fall through the textures, and didn’t crash the game. I hope the situation is similar on Xbox and PC.
Sandy locations with elements of stone and wood
Most Atlas locations are sandy, but for variety, there are sometimes green locations with grass, trees, bushes and animals. Sometimes you will have to wander through caves and underground cities, where the emphasis is on architecture with large bookshelves, abandoned houses and murals that resemble cave paintings. To avoid playing a desert simulator, Deck13 added various camps, huge settlements, and cliffs in open areas to explore the world vertically. I especially liked the last location, where there is practically no sand, and everywhere there are swamps and trees through which the rays of the sun pass. The picture is not bad, but it is clear that the headquarters of 65 people (data for 2021) is not enough to make graphics at the level of Horizon Forbidden West, on which about 300 people worked. If you don't need ultra-realistic graphics on Unreal Engine 5, Atlas Fallen's visuals will be fine.
The sounds in the game are well implemented. Enemies scream, growl; before their attack you hear a characteristic sound, which helps to parry the attacks. The weapons sound good too. Each blow is accompanied by its own sound, and you are clearly aware that you have hit it. This works especially well when there are a lot of enemies around you, and you can’t always keep track of their health levels.
There are no problems with music either. During battles, all the compositions are driving, which has its effect when you go to beat the next boss or a flock of small creatures. When story scenes or illustrations are shown, epic music plays that immerses you in those events, and in the open world, light compositions play quietly in the background, and they do not irritate or become boring.
What I didn’t like?
The game has several serious flaws that do not always lead to a good experience. Until the very end you believe that maybe things will be different now, but the final credits begin and you realize that your hopes were in vain.
Lack of chemistry between the main characters
Nameless from the first minutes of the game wears a glove in which the spirit of the god Njal lives. He can even be seen every time the player activates an anvil, and we hear his voice almost always. Only there is a problem in all this – the relationship is not developing. It has never happened that our hero has one approach to a situation, and Njal has another, and then a conflict would begin that could cause emotions and begin to worry about one of the parties, but this never happened.
In 2013, the game Beyond: Two Souls was released, where the main character also lived with a spirit that was always there, and their relationship constantly developed, from the first to the last minute. They quarreled, helped each other, separated for a while, and this evoked empathy in the player. It's interesting for you to watch their story. Why something like this couldn’t have been added to Atlas Fallen is a big mystery to me, and it was sorely missed during my playthrough.
Nameless and Nyal, whose relationship practically does not develop
If you can somehow understand the additional tasks, in which you just need to collect objects and that’s it, then similar tasks in the main story cause outrage. The game gave a task several times where you need to collect 3 fragments to upgrade the glove, and every time it was the same. They also offer you to break 5 chains, destroy 2 towers, collect something else – and there’s a ton of that here. Was it really impossible to sit and come up with something interesting? For example, a task where a unique creature sits in a secret cave and protects 3 fragments. This would be perceived as more interesting than turning on the crystals for the fourth time at speed. I want to believe that games with a semi-open world will increasingly abandon such monotony and start imagining and offering something unique for players. There are interesting quests, of course, but the ratio is 3 to 7.
It's not always an RPG
Player decision is one of the features that is inherent in RPG games. This is somewhat difficult here. We are not given a choice as such, there is only one ending, and there are very few quests where we decide something. Above, I already mentioned a quest where a thief stole apples, and we need to decide what to do with him: hand him over or let him go. And I would like more of this. When you start an RPG, you expect that choices will be made frequently and will affect the story. Remember in The Witcher 3 a series of quests with the Baron. There, depending on our actions over several quests, the ending of this story was very different. This is what is missing here.
For example, in Atlas Fallen there was a quest where you had to collect 3 notes and find words there that are the password in order to go further. And even if you answered incorrectly, they will still let you through. Although here it would be necessary to allow the player to come up with a new way to pass if he failed such a task.
Quest in which we need to choose the fate of a thief. And I would like to see more of this here
It would be better if this was an exclusively cooperative game
I played through the game alone, but I feel that together with a friend, collecting 3 crystals, and bringing 5 coins, and together looking for a treasure map, a chest and fighting against everyone in a row, would be much more interesting. Therefore, the game should only be made cooperative, and not always interesting elements of the game would be perceived completely differently, and those that work great would be implemented even better.
The main art of the game, which hints that the game is better played together
Five Things to Know About Atlas Fallen
- Atlas Fallen is an adventure that takes you to a unique sandy world where you can explore ancient ruins, deserts, cliffs and cities.
- The game has a very dynamic combat system that can give a lot of emotions and adapt the fighting style to suit you.
- The game suffers from monotonous quests and lack of chemistry between the main characters.
- Thanks to the semi-open world, the game can be completed quickly, and you will not have to spend 30-50 hours to achieve the final goal.
- Atlas Fallen is best played with a friend, which will give you much more emotions than if you play the project alone.
|PC, Xbox Series, PlayStation 5
|Number of players
|Single-player/Co-op for two people
|Time to complete
|August 10, 2023
The editors thank the publisher Focus Entertainment for kindly providing the game for review