ATOM RPG Review: A Fallout Clone That Never Takes Itself Too Seriously
ATOM RPG, developed by AtomTeam, an indie developer from Russia, is a spiritual successor to the original Fallout games. But it isn't your typical gruesome post-apocalyptic fare. On the contrary, ATOM RPG possesses some witty humor and a healthy dose of self-irony.
"Russian Fallout," a title coined by ATOM RPG players, has been in development for many years. It gathered over $30,000 on Kickstarter, which was twice two times its development budget.
Despite that relatively small investment, the result is quite impressive; in the end, AtomTeam managed to create a really decent game.
Story and Setting
ATOM RPG takes place in an alternative universe, where 1986 marks the end of the USSR and the Western bloc, as both get destroyed in a nuclear war.
The main protagonist of the game is an agent of ATOM, a secret organization sent to explore the Soviet wastes in search of a special squad, which disappeared during the investigation of the mysterious bunker #317.
The wastes are incredibly dangerous and filled with gangsters, mutants, stalkers, and other nefarious survivalists. The player's role is to become one of them and work through a variety of quests, gaining authority and ultimately finding the rest of the ATOM agents.
The game starts to show its true colors through the characters you meet on your way; they are some of the most surreal and bizarre people you've ever met. But in a post-nuclear-war world, meeting the truly strange is par for the course.
Not only have the characters lost everything they once held dear, but many have also lost their minds along the way. Like the isometric Fallout titles that came before it, ATOM RPG takes this idea and runs with it, producing some truly curious situations and eccentric dialog.
Of course, the developers also make room for some more serious gameplay; players do get the chance to complete consequential quests, raid bunkers, help drug addicts, hunt for slave traders, and do other exciting things.
The Fallout aesthetic permeates every facet of ATOM RPG, right down to the interface, the color scheme, and of course, the gameplay mechanics. Veteran Fallout players will have a strong sense of deja-vu here.
You can travel across the map either by foot or in a vehicle, which appears later in the game. As usual, the combat is turn-based, and the skill tree puts a whole galaxy of abilities is at your fingertips. You can invest your experience points in communication, hacking, pickpocketing, technology, crafting, survival, melee, and so on; all skills you would expect to find in a survival RPG.
Your progression level is reflected in numerous dialog choices and quests. For example, strength allows you to threaten NPCs, charisma and communication give you the power of conviction, and agility provides certain advantages during combat.
Additionally, quests can be completed in myriad different ways. Each will provide you with several options, testing your moral compass. You can be good or bad, diplomatic or aggressive.
The best part, though, is that players can forget about the plot completely if they choose; players are free to explore the wasteland, attack caravans, wreck havoc inside brothels and casinos, and blackmail all sorts of NPCs. Here, player choice is the primary focus.
However, the number one enemy in ATOM RPG is probably the wasteland itself. You can die from radiation, hunger, and poisoning; aside from worrying about enemies, you'll need to carry supplies, medicine, alcohol, and other consumables that can temporarily improve your condition.
It all becomes a little easier when you start bringing companions along, but you can't control them; in and out of combat, the AI does the job for you. Unfortunately, it doesn't do a very good job, either, and you will often notice that it puts your companions in the wrong positions, and does a poor job in general, when it comes to damage dealing.
- Addictive gameplay
- Freedom of choice when completing quests
- Some really funny characters and dialog
- Fallout nostalgia
- Terrible AI
- Clunky interface
- Outdated combat
ATOM RPG is not perfect by any means; it has some of the clunkiest interfaces in all of gaming, some truly weak A.I.a, and outdated combat. That's not to mention all of the bugs that you will encounter.
Despite all of this, the game is addictive, just like the first two Fallout games. If you're one of those nostalgic gamers that's tired of seeing Bethesda failing to deliver good Fallout games, then ATOM RPG is a good alternative.
Don't expect a mind-blowing experience, but instead expect familiarity, which is like coming back home after a long, tiresome trip.
And although the humor in ATOM RPG is a little trashy, it still holds some value in the current market, which is oversaturated with games and developers that take themselves too seriously.
[Note: A copy of ATOM RPG was provided by AtomTeam for the purpose of this review.]