Atomic Heart’s Devs Apologizes For Racist Cartoon Footage Amid Several Controversies

Mundfish's latest venture is under heavy fire.

Story Highlights.

  • Atomic Heart by Mundfish is under fire for featuring a cartoon with a racist stereotype.
  • Mundfish has come out with an apology.
  • Developers are receiving criticism for their links to Russia in light of the ongoing conflict between Russia and Ukraine.
  • Despite several controversies and performance-based issues, the game is doing quite well critically and commercially.

The first-person shooter Atomic Heart by Mundfish is under fire for featuring a cartoon with a racist stereotype as spotted by a user on ResetEra earlier this week.

PC Gamer pointed it out stating various criticisms the game faced right after its release. And now, the developers of the game themselves have come out with an apology giving the impression that they are seeking to mend its mistakes so far. 

The week leading up to Atomic Heart’s release has been marred by controversy, as the game’s creator Mundfish is receiving criticism for its links to Russia in light of the ongoing conflict between Russia and Ukraine, unstable experience on certain platforms, and now for including a racist cartoon in the game.

The racist, antiquated imagery in one specific scene has been addressed in further detail by Mundfish. It’s a clip from what appears to be the Soviet rendition of Tom and Jerry, a Russian cartoon from the 1960s, but it outraged viewers all around the world right away.

Players may take a break from the game’s robot-bashing action in resting chambers and watch seasons of the popular Soviet children’s program Nu, Pogodi!, which debuted in 1969. Yet, at least one of the highlighted episodes may be a little too evocative of its time period.

In essence, Nu, Pogodi! is a Soviet version of Tom and Jerry. It features a perfectly coiffed Soviet disco wolf (Volk) who attempts and fails to capture a naughty hare (Zayats). One of the Atomic Heart’s episodes, “Museum,” from 1978’s episode 12, has drawn criticism.

The two’s antics set off a Rube Goldberg-style series of chaotic events that ultimately places Volk in the sarcophagus of Ramesses the Great.

In a quick flash on the screen, the statue—a racist representation of an African tribesman—is fired by the bow and arrow it is holding as a result of the statue’s antics. The relevant episode is available on Twitch (racism warning).

Nu, Pogodi! Episode 12.
Nu, Pogodi! Episode 12.

Atomic Heart by Mundfish was initially revealed in 2017 and is set in a 1955 Soviet Union parallel reality where chrome robots are in power. You take on the role of Major Sergey Nechayev, an amnesic World War II veteran tasked with eliminating enemy robots.

Players use Nechayev’s robotic modifications to hack, freeze, and levitate automatons before destroying them with streams of gunshots, lightning, or blunt items.

The gaming community was not pleased with Atomic Heart’s significant in-game usage of pro-Soviet Russia propaganda and its creators’ ambiguous position on the ongoing conflict between Russia and Ukraine.

Mundfish’s reputation suffered after its official Twitter account posted an ambiguous remark regarding its position on Russia invading Ukraine. Mundfish claims that its developers work from nations like Ukraine.

Guys, we have noted the questions surrounding where we, at Mundfish, stand. We want to assure you that Mundfish is a developer and studio with a global team focused on an innovative game and is undeniably a pro-peace organization against violence against people.”

Ukraine’s Ministry of Digital Transformation has asked Valve, Microsoft, and Sony to halt the sale of Atomic Heart in Ukraine and will urge “limiting” its distribution in other countries because of the “the potential use of money raised from game purchases to conduct a war against Ukraine.”

The uncanny similarity between the female robot twins of Atomic Heart and Yulia Tymoshenko, the head of the Batkivshchyna party in Ukraine, comes next on the list of controversy-worthy aspects of the game.

Kotaku reached out to Focus Entertainment and Mundfish for comment but there has been no answer from their side as of yet on this issue.

Atomic Heart had performance difficulties when it first came out, especially on Xbox Series S. According to Mundfish, these issues varied depending on whether the player character was inside or outdoors.

Ray tracing capability, which was touted as a selling point for Atomic Heart but is presently unavailable in the game on PC, will eventually be added, according to the developer.

Despite several controversies, critics and gamers have generally praised Atomic Heart. According to SteamDB, the game began with an all-time high of 38,469 players and has consistently maintained 35,047 concurrent players. The sci-fi shooter has a Metacritic score of 77 on average and a user rating of 7.6.

Atomic Heart dubbed by gamers as the “Russian BioShock” is out now for the PlayStation 5, PlayStation 4, Xbox Series X|S, Xbox One, and PC.

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Ahmed Mansoor is a News Writer who has a deep passion for single-player adventure games. He loves to keep tabs on the gaming and technology industries and loves to break stories that interest his audience. He has a Bachelor’s Degree in Journalism and several years of experience writing for games. Experience: 3+ Years || Education: Bachelor's in Journalism || Written 600+ News Stories.

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