Atomic Heart: 1950′s Soviets Making Robo-apocalypse (REVIEW)
Like Bioshock meets Fallout and so much more
WACO, Texas (KWTX) -
Platforms: PS5, Xbox Series and PC
Reviewed: PC (Steam)
Code provided by publisher
In what is clearly a high fantasy narrative, this game is set in an alternate 1955 where the Soviet Union is the most powerful country on the planet. They have led the world in scientific discoveries and have developed robots that can be used by everyone on earth as servants. But things take a turn for the worst when the robots enter combat mode and begin attacking instead of serving. Atomic Heart was released on February 21st 2023 and was developed by Mundfish Studios. While not necessarily a horror game, it is horror adjacent and plenty bloody, so I am here to review it and let you know if I think it’s worth your time. I’m Levi from Hardwired and life is a waking nightmare, so let’s escape it all for a little while and dive into another nightmare.
We come into the game on a day of celebration at the Chelomey Complex. They are about to release Kollectiv 2.0 and a THOUGHT neuro-connector which will allow people to command their robots by simply using their minds. It all can be done with a liquidized programmable module called Polymer that was created in the 1930s. The Polymer can interact with the human body through the THOUGHT device to control the robots. People will also be able to upload knowledge directly into their brains through the device as well. You are a military officer named Major Sergei Nechaev, but your nickname is P-3. Your character is equipped with a glove on his left hand that functions much in the same way as the THOUGHT neuro-connectors that are about to be released, although his glove has an AI personality programmed into it named Char-les. You are called to action to prevent small situation with the rollout from becoming a major situation. But unfortunately, the situation blows up before you’re able to assist. The machines go awry and you’re now tasked with finding out why this happened and bringing whoever did this to justice. (Just a side note completely unrelated to the game but Kollectiv 2.0 is going to release on June 13th, 1955 in the game, which is Jason Voorhees’ ninth birthday.)
First off let me just say that the game is visually impressive. The Chelomy Complex at the beginning of the game is a beautiful little city, and then when you get to the outside area in the mountains the landscape is vibrant and gorgeous. The corridors in the facilities are rightfully creepy as well. The lighting in them is dim and very well done to create an atmosphere of dread. There are droids that don’t have combat capabilities, so they are stuck in a damaged loop of cleaning and other menial tasks in many of these complexes and you must avoid them as they zip around the room at high speeds. It’s a great detail to sell the disfunction of the bots.
Speaking of the bots, there are some creepy dead-eyed bots that attack you all throughout this game. They have little Charlie Chaplin mustaches and blank expressionless faces, and they are all clothed in either white or black jumpsuits, though I’m sure those suits are just painted on. Then there are these annoying flower-shaped sentry bots that hang from the walls and if they see you then they summon swarms of extra enemies to the area. There are also many flying bots that serve different functions such as attacking you or alerting other bots to you, but the most annoying are the blue ones that repair bots that you have destroyed (especially because they love to repair the sentry bots as a priority.)
The human characters in the game are all amazingly detailed as well. The subtle twitches and movements of the hands during gameplay really sell every action. In cutscenes the details on their skin and facial expressions were very realistic. Everything is really polished and high quality from a graphical standpoint. I was very impressed considering that this is Mundfish Studios’ first game.
The game’s sound design is stupendous in addition to its stunning visuals. The voice work is good for a bunch of voice actors that I’ve never heard the names of before. P-3 had a few weirdly delivered lines at the beginning of the game, but as I played further into the game and got a better idea of his character, then the sarcasm and cynicism that he oozes makes those early lines not seem so strange. The robots all have a nice motor sound that accompanies their movements. The sound of your melee weapons smashing onto the metal bodies of the robots is satisfying. Atomic Heart’s score is composed by Mick Gordon, who scored Doom 2016 and Doom Eternal. The score for the game is nothing short of exceptional. The combat music got me amped up every time I was smashing bots. Besides just the score, the game incorporates classical and opera music at several points and even remixes some opera at points. There’s also hints of heavy metal music that isn’t being sung in English, so I assume they are singing in Russian. The music hands down is my favorite aspect of Atomic Heart.
There’s been a lot of first-person shooters lately that try to focus on the story and let their gameplay slip as a result. But Atomic Heart has superbly fun gameplay and combat. You have your melee weapons, as I’ve said before, but you also have guns like your pistol, shotgun, electric discharge guns both big and small that use energy instead of ammo, and even rocket launchers. The energy to fire the electric guns is constantly being regenerated but at a slow rate so use it sparingly. You can customize your weapons both melee and ranged to do more damage or be more accurate. You can even turn your melee weapons into power weapons or add a cartridge to your ranged weapons that allow you to add fire, freezing, or shock damage to your weapons.
You can also upgrade your character’s glove system to do things such as send out a bolt of lightning to stun enemies or to telekinetically lift enemies up and smash them down. You can also freeze them or spray them with Polymer that you can then set ablaze with gunshots. You can also use your glove to scan the surrounding area for objectives or enemies. It can also be used to loot cabinets and boxes by telekinetically pulling the objects to you.
In addition to an intriguing and decently lengthy main campaign, the game also has a lot of extra puzzles and extra boss type creatures you can fight all over the place when you explore. So, there is plenty to do in this game if you’re an achievement hunter. That being said, the gameplay was a lot of fun and I enjoyed it, except when they made me play snake, a game I have never played or have ever wanted to play. Nobody likes Snake and I certainly don’t want to play it DURING MY FPS...
All in all, Atomic Heart is a great first-person shooter, and that’s being said by someone who hates first-person shooters. It’s got a decent story and its graphics are top tier. I still find it hard to believe that this is Mundfish Studios’ first game. The music in the game is amazing and fills the world with so much character. It’s decently violent as well so that always scores points with me. Therefore, I will give Atomic Heart a 9/10. It’s Excellent. For Hardwired, I’ve been Levi Barner.
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