Atlas Fallen Review
Story And Setting
Visuals And Performance
Atlas Fallen has some really interesting ideas, but poor execution of those results in a truly flawed product.
- Developer: Deck13
- Publisher: Focus Entertainment
- Release Date: August 10, 2023
- Platforms: PC, Xbox Series X/S, PlayStation 5
- Tested On: PC
- Engaging Combat
- Rewarding Exploration
- Worthwhile Upgrades
- Great Customization
- Good Art direction
- Bland Writing
- Horrible Voice Acting
- Poor Pacing
In the realm of gaming, there are always a few experiences that manage to perfectly balance potential and pitfalls, while offering a captivating yet flawed experience. Atlas Fallen, developed by Deck13, stands as one such experience, a title that beckons players with the promise of a grand adventure but leaves them with mixed sentiments upon its conclusion.
Deck13 is no strangers to the Soulslike genre, having developed titles like Lords of the Fallen and the Surge series, both of which are respectable endeavors in the genre. Atlas Fallen, however, is not a Soulslike. It is an open-world, action-adventure game that is more akin to something like Darksiders rather than Dark Souls, with a big emphasis on platforming and a sprinkle of Metroidvania elements.
And so diverging from their previous successes, Deck13 has taken a bold leap with their newest game.
Story And Setting
In Atlas Fallen, you play as a nameless protagonist hailing from a downtrodden social stratum devoid of recognition, aptly called the Unnamed. Overseeing the sandy kingdom where the story takes place is an immortal queen, who is followed by an unwavering religious order that exploits your kind to extract Essence, a mystical resource vital for their deity worship, which also inadvertently causes the land’s decay.
The story unfolds when a long-forgotten talking gauntlet becomes your unexpected ally during a perilous encounter with formidable Sand Wraiths, which are this game’s version of enemies. This mysterious artifact, inhabited by a strange spirit called Nyaal, awakens a fierce resolve within the protagonist to free the Unnamed by challenging the queen, resurrecting the land, and toppling the deity Thelos.
Characters, despite showing glimpses of potential, fall flat and are weighed down by uninspiring dialogue and amateur voice acting.
Within Atlas Fallen’s very short campaign, lies one of its most glaring weaknesses. The narrative stumbles and falls, struggling to find footing amidst its otherwise genuinely interesting setting. The pacing is also at times disjointed, and the game’s lore also struggles to captivate, as it comes across as a very shallow and cookie-cutter narrative.
Characters, despite showing glimpses of potential, fall flat and are weighed down by uninspiring dialogue and amateur voice acting. Their dated and bland nature becomes strikingly apparent in contrast to modern standards of storytelling and character development. On top of these hiccups, the protagonist, though fully voiced, also lacks a distinct personality, which renders many dialogue choices inconsequential. This lack of a strong central identity left me unsatisfied and yearning for a deeper connection to the world and its inhabitants.
The primary storyline appears centered around the gradual introduction of new mechanics rather than the weaving of a compelling story. The narrative spreads across a handful of expansive open-world zones, each exuding a distinct ambiance. These maps, such as the subterranean Fortress of Bastengar and the crater-laden Wildlands, are replete with hidden treasures and side quests, creating a sense of constant discovery.
But side content dominates the landscape, often requiring the retrieval of three shards to complete relics and unlock subsequent gauntlet upgrades. However, the scattered components are relatively straightforward to locate, and the ensuing rewards are consistently worthwhile.
Momentum adds another layer of engagement to every encounter, urging the player to balance risk and reward.
Unveiling new abilities for the gauntlet, such as the triple air dash, is where the Metroidvania elements come into play. While the game boasts exploration and the acquisition of new abilities to unlock new areas, the execution is lacking. The process of obtaining new abilities feels tedious and poorly paced, involving multiple glorified fetch quests and backtracking. The platforming puzzles associated with the new abilities aren’t engaging or innovative either, and the open-world exploration is hindered by the game’s limited scope.
However, these upgrades do play a part in the game’s combat, which is uncomplicated yet dynamically engaging. Though seemingly fast-paced and button-mashy, it rewards strategic thinking and synergistic use of all of your unlocked abilities. Basic attacks vary based on the equipped weapons, which also influence the character’s movement. The inclusion of a satisfying parry mechanic, which is fairly easy to pull off and can stun the attacking enemy, further diversifies combat tactics. These combat elements are vital in defeating large adversaries. The synergy between basic attacks and specialized abilities that consume Momentum keeps combat fluid and engaging.
Speaking of Momentum, this system adds another layer of engagement to every encounter, urging the player to balance risk and reward. Each strike charges a Momentum gauge that corresponds to active and passive abilities. Higher tiers of Momentum amplify both damage dealt and sustained. These higher tiers grant access to stronger abilities that make battles feel intense and encourage careful deployment of the finisher attack to shift the tide of battle. This finisher called the Shatter Attack, consumes all Momentum currently accumulated to unleash a devastating blow to all surrounding enemies, instantly stunning them for a set period of time.
These abilities allow for deep and intricate customization in Atlas Fallen. Unlocked by collecting Essence Stones spread across the open world, these abilities contribute to character personalization by permitting crafting and upgrades. This facilitates the creation of various character builds tailored for different roles, be it healing, damage-dealing, crowd control, tanking, or a little bit of everything. However, maintaining high momentum, which is essential for using these powerful abilities, necessitates strategic decision-making, as nearing the limit exposes characters to heightened damage.
Embracing Atlas Fallen as an online co-op adventure, where friends traverse a sprawling open world, uncover rare treasures, enhance their characters, battle formidable monsters, or simply revel in collecting cosmetics for the remarkable transmogrification, might offer a more rewarding experience. The game facilitates the completion of side quests and interludes between significant story events individually while ensuring that both players reap the same rewards, even when separated by vast distances. The freedom to divide tasks and explore separate territories may enhance your experience with the game.
That being said, the promise of seamless cooperative play is marred by the omission of basic matchmaking functionality. In an era where drop-in co-op experiences are increasingly the norm, Atlas Fallen severely misses the opportunity to offer players smooth multiplayer engagements across its player base. This oversight greatly hampers accessibility and leaves those eager to share the adventure with other people from around the world feeling a sense of disconnect, being locked out of one of the better aspects of this game.
Visuals And Performance
Atlas Fallen introduces players to a beautiful hand-crafted world with its visually striking landscapes and intricate designs. The medieval desert kingdom comes to life through vast, open environments that evoke a sense of exploration and wonder. The game’s visual aesthetic is reminiscent of elegant fantasy concept art, drawing players into its immersive setting. The sand-filled landscapes, ancient ruins, and towering structures create a distinct ambiance that sets the stage for the adventure.
In terms of performance, Atlas Fallen offers a mix of fluidity and inconsistencies.
However, while the excels in its visual design, it’s not without its share of technical hiccups. Players may encounter occasional low-texture pop-ins that momentarily disrupt the seamless immersion. These abrupt transitions can momentarily pull players out of the experience, reminding them that they are in fact navigating a virtual landscape. Such glitches, although not pervasive, are noticeable enough to be mentioned.
In terms of performance, Atlas Fallen offers a mix of fluidity and inconsistencies. The game impressively maintains decent framerates and graphical presets on a fairly underpowered 10th-generation Intel i5 and GTX 1650. This, however, doesn’t mean too much as the texture and foliage pop-ins, average-looking character models, and low-resolution textures overall leave the game looking like a last-generation title even at the highest settings.
Atlas Fallen offers a mixed gaming experience that shows promise but falls short in key aspects. The game’s cooperative gameplay is well-explained and the movement and combat mechanics are enjoyable, and the open world boasts expansive environments for exploration, particularly with engaging sand surfing mechanics. Visually, the game impresses with its beauty and optimization, providing smooth performance even on lower-end hardware.
However, the narrative and dialogue suffer greatly. The story is poorly paced and the character interactions feel outdated, reminiscent of video games from a decade ago. Voice acting and writing come across as bland and uninspiring, detracting from the immersive experience games should strive for. The combat, while offering variety in skills and upgrades, can feel clunky at times. The lack of matchmaking for cooperative play is also disappointing, and while the game has potential as a co-op experience, it struggles as a single-player endeavor due to excessive exposition and unengaging dialogue. Bugs and technical issues, such as disappearing enemies and missing audio, also hinder the experience.
Although Atlas Fallen showcases moments of fun combat and exploration, the overall execution falls short of expectations. The game’s unique identity has promise, but it requires significant improvements in storytelling and character engagement. As it stands, the game may be worth considering at a discounted price, but its current state leaves room for growth and refinement.
This has been our Atlas Fallen Review. While you’re here, consider checking out some of our other articles.
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