ATOM RPG is a game that banks on nostalgia. It tries to bring back elements found in games 2 decades ago, ancient if you can compare it with today’s gaming standards. However, despite heavily taking inspiration from known products, it manages to cut itself a new line, bringing forth something new to a tried, beaten and tested genre. Today, we review ATOM RPG, a post-apocalyptic game released last 2018, to see if it is worth seeking out.
ATOM RPG was reviewed on an ASUS ROG ROG Strix G (G531GV-AL184T). You can check out our review of the gaming laptop here.
What Is Atom RPG?
As stated above, ATOM RPG is a post-apocalyptic adventure set in the USSR, or what remains of it. Unlike games and films with similar premises, this one treads on a somewhat uncharted territory. What happens to the remains of the USSR after the bombs fell? Are there post-apocalyptic mutant bears? Will there still be vodka flowing? These are questions that ATOM RPG tries to discuss and it does so well. And the good thing about all of these is that you, the player, is smack in the middle of it.
The Story In Post-Apocalyptic USSR
ATOM RPG starts with you being a member of ATOM, a secretive organization composed of the remnants of the Red Army. As part of this formerly illustrious group, you are then tasked to find a platoon of missing soldiers sent out to recon a bunker. From then on, your adventures in the wastes take a sharp turn for the worst.
Once you’re out into the glassed world, your character gets a free rein on how to complete the mission. But as with every RPG game, going straight to complete the story is a waste. Exploration is its own reward in ATOM RPG. Visiting towns gives you ideas on how this post-communist settlements fight to survive on their own, building the lore of the world that they inhabit. You can meet characters, both level-headed and outright insane, and manage how to deal with them. You also get to experience weird and peculiar quests, with mundane ones that even involve the concepts of consciousness and the sense of self.
ATOM RPG – Play It Like It’s 1998
It is no secret that ATOM RPG is a game inspired by the first 2 Fallout games, you know, the better ones (plus Fallout NV). It has an overhead view of the field with the player clicking anywhere on the map to move the player character. To interact with objects, you click on them. Alternatively, you can use keys plus a mouse click to lockpick, steal, and inspect objects closer to give you an idea on what to do next.
Character creation is also heavily-inspired by Fallout games both old and new. The player must allot points to several stats such as Strength, Agility, and Dexterity. These stats dictate how your character will perform in the in-game world. Aside from that, you also get to choose skills that you want you character to excel at. You can get ones like Pistol/SMG skills, allowing you to wield the said weapons like a modern gunslinger. Or you can also go with ones like Barter and Speechcraft, both of which can give you significant advantage out of combat. Whatever character you choose to build, you can find solutions for the problems that ATOM RPG will present you. Most of the time.
Turn-Based Combat & Action Points
If you’ve played any of the OG Fallout games, the combat in ATOM RPG is literally the same. Combat plays with each characters fighting in turns, the sequence of which are decided by their respective stats. Each combatant has a set amount of Action Points (AP) that they can use to perform actions. Moving, accessing the inventory, shooting and reloading all consume AP. Once a character has consumed all of its AP, the turn ends and the cycle repeats.
The limited movement adds weight to every action you take, leaving you praying to the RNG gods for criticals or even hits during the first parts of the game. Should you shoot or take cover? Or should you take down the advancing melee lunatic first or the equally dangerous sniper? These choices add tension to every battle, more pronounced during the earlier parts of the game wherein you’re at your weakest. Positioning is also important as chokepoints and blocking are equally important in gauging how you and the opponent’s team will perform.
Dialogue & The Significance Of Choice In ATOM RPG
As with RPG’s of this type, story and dialogue are what makes or breaks it. Combat helps but how the words and conversations flow is what makes a game like this memorable. For ATOM RPG, conversations are mostly great with some being far too long.
Talking to a character reveals certain lines of dialogue that you can choose to steer the conversations. They can be simple ones like asking questions that can then lead to additional information that you can pry. In some cases, your character stats come into play, allowing you to change the outcome or command the conversation. If you have high Strength, you can intimidate or scare off enemies. High Speechcraft skill can help you convince mercenaries to leave, leaving your target alone and undefended. These add credence to non-combat skills as often times bloodless conversations are far more rewarding than the alternative.
Bugs, Bugs, Bugs?
A game of this scope and genre is not without any problems. Though truth be told, I did not encounter any bug that warranted me to restart from some point. I did not encounter any crashes or any of the sort while I was playing on the PC. As I played it 2 years after its official release, most of the headaches are likely already patched and fixed.
While not a technical problem, there are certain quests in the game that lack polish in someway. I encountered one quest that locked up once I chose to lie to the quest giver, abruptly ending the quest with no way to advance it further. While disheartening, these kinds of problems are nothing major and do not heavily affect the overall enjoyment of the game. It just sucks if you’re a completionist.
ATOM RPG Review – Verdict & Conclusion
If you’re looking for a modern Fallout game set in eastern Europe with a different paint, then look no further than ATOM RPG. While it does not offer the writing quality presented by its inspiration released 2 decades ago, it still is something worth experiencing. It’s not common that we see games that are set in the USSR, more so a post-apocalyptic RPG. You can really see that this game is a labor of love and is the culmination of something that the developers wanted to make.
For concerns aside from the locked quest, I did find some problems in the game’s dialogue and conversations as some do not make sense to me. It might be due to some translation error or something that flew over me because of my unfamiliarity with the culture. Nonetheless, these moments are so few and too far in between that it does not affect the fun I had in the game.
One thing worth noting is that the allied AI leaves one wanting. There were some moments that I would have wanted to shoot my own teammate for making moves that are very unexpected (i.e. running away from a critically injured enemy). They also tend to block doors, blocking your teammates from entering into combat leaving you a man or 2 shorter during a firefight. In moments like these, I tried to compensate for it instead (Quicksave and Quickload does wonders). But it is still irritating and rage-inducing whenever it happens.
Highly Recommended & A Must-Buy
ATOM RPG may not be graphically appealing and may look somewhat dated, but it offers more than just glamour. It offers a new angle to a popular and beaten genre, complete with quests that make you think and ponder. It is a game filled with choices that matter. And it hammers you the importance of these choices again and again, be it in combat or in completing quests. Again, if you’re a fan of Fallout 1 and 2, this one is a no brainer. Get it and play it and see how one hour can turn to dozens in a bliss. If you’re looking for a post-apocalyptic RPG that can be fun, challenging, and fresh, here’s one to consider.
Oh, and the game already has a sequel in Early Access.