Atomic Heart’s superb visual design extends to its large range of partially ruined labs, facilities, and transportation hubs, each filled with long, snaking globules of the liquid polymer that powers the advancements of this fantastical 1950s
Atomic Heart, the latest single-player video game, has garnered attention for its intricate world and striking visual design. Developed by Mundfish, this alternate-history shooter features a retro-futuristic landscape that blends sci-fi and supernatural elements. The game is set in an imagined past where technology has turned against its creators, leading to a world overrun by robots and other advanced creations.
Plot of the game
In Atomic Heart’s alternate timeline, a scientist by the name of Dmitry Sechenov sparks a robotics renaissance in Russia in the 1930s. By the 1950s, the Soviet Union’s working class had been entirely replaced by robots that were controlled by a hive-mind network known as Kollectiv 1.0. A few years later, just before Kollectiv 2.0 is made public, the game starts.
Kollectiv 2.0 will give all people equal access to the hive-mind, enabling them to connect and share information with one another over great distances and control robots remotely through Thought devices that are wired directly into their brains. In essence, it’s a 24-hour, plugged-in version of the Internet.
The game borrows from recognisable building blocks, including BioShock, Half-Life, and Portal. However, Atomic Heart stands out for its confident and compelling design, particularly its well-crafted enemies, which range from sleek terminators to pot-bellied parking meters. Players will encounter featureless ballerina bots, spindly-legged battle balls, and even a Baymax lookalike cosplaying as a tank.
Atomic Heart’s superb visual design also extends to its large range of partially ruined labs, facilities, and transportation hubs, each filled with long, snaking globules of the liquid polymer that powers the advancements of this fantastical 1950s. The level of detail is strikingly good, with tiny touches that smack of a great deal of consideration, such as the different reload animations for unspent magazines compared to empty ones.
However, the game is not without its flaws. It’s not as clever as it thinks it is when dealing with melee combat or its typical fetch quests, and the story doesn’t quite stick its landing. Players follow special forces veteran Major Sergey Nechaev, or P-3 as he’s dubbed throughout, in his quest to explore what’s gone wrong in a false utopia.
The foul-mouthed and amnestic P-3 is admittedly a bit of a relic of games gone by, and the script does him a disservice with its frequent swearing and modern turns of phrase that don’t keep the overall experience seated in the 1950s.
Despite its flaws, Atomic Heart is a lengthy, tough, and terrific-looking shooter that has players bathing in the blood and gears of elaborately designed enemies both biological and robotic and dispatching them with an impressive set of combat options. The game is not wholly derivative despite its recognisable building blocks, with developer Mundfish assembling its vision in a confident and compelling way.
Atomic Heart is available on Xbox Series X and other platforms, and players are encouraged to embark on a mechanical mystery tour and discover the intricate world for themselves.