Atomic Heart could have been the next BioShock

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Atomic Heart wears its BioShock influences connected its sleeve. Both games spot first-person escapade mechanics successful elaborate utopias gone wrong. Both characteristic verbose, bombastic leaders dormant group connected making their grandiose dreams into reality; combat repertoires operation accepted weapons pinch in-game “magic” (instead of BioShock’s Plasmids aliases BioShock Infinite’s Vigors, we person Atomic Heart’s Polymers); a confused, amnesiac main characteristic has mysterious ties to said leader, forming nan communicative crux.

Yet, crucially, Atomic Heart fails to nail down what made nan BioShock bid — arsenic divisive arsenic it is — work: a keen laser-focus connected a fewer cardinal themes.

Instead of cautiously weaving a textured magnitude to its crippled and gameplay, Atomic Heart developer Mundfish formed its nett wide. And by embracing truthful much, it held onto very little. This deficiency of focus, whether intentional aliases not, connected observant communicative threading successful favour of overgarment bombs of group pieces results successful a vague sketch of BioShock alternatively than a elaborate reimagining. None of this is to mention nan chum of its penning bloodying nan waters of its world, aliases nan incessant whining and unjustified antagonism of its unlikeable protagonist, each wrong a haphazard messiness of levels that needed much editing, not much variety.

While my first impressions of nan crippled were (and remain) highly favorable, and I do urge trying it connected Game Pass — conscionable not buying it — I cannot thief but beryllium underwhelmed by nan consistency of nan game’s inconsistencies. While nan retro Soviet “aesthetic” is prominent, that bombastic, beautiful opening taxable is abandoned successful favour of occasional notes. It’s symphony much than solo.

A first-person position of Atomic Heart, pinch nan subordinate facing a cone-shaped robot leaf arms while battling connected a suburban street. The subordinate is equipped pinch an battle firearm pinch a canister attached to nan side. Image: Mundfish/Focus Entertainment, 4Divinity

This illness of diverseness seeps into nan bones of gameplay too. While Atomic Heart’s attack is initially nosy — it jumps from areas replete pinch works zombies to spaces pinch hulking monsters — it quickly feels for illustration nan designers took nan room descend approach. There is nary relationship betwixt these sections of nan world, and arsenic a result, nan crippled feels much for illustration a patchwork, alternatively than respective beardown ideas that are gradually iterated upon successful each consequent level.

Crucial parts of nan crippled return spot successful underground accommodation — interesting, initially haunting, beautiful corridors — but erstwhile Mundfish thrust maine into Atomic Heart’s unfastened world, I really considered turning nan crippled off.

In nan game’s semi-open world, nan murky depths of an empire’s fragmented failings are abandoned successful favour of a garish pastoral environment. The abstraction is wide open, and filled pinch information cameras and robots and machines that make more robots erstwhile alerted by said information cameras. Everything you spent hours learning is abandoned — Atomic Heart’s unfastened world mightiness arsenic good beryllium a wholly different game. Filled pinch robots that are endlessly repaired and swarms of bullet-sponge enemies that are positioned astatine almost each corner, these open-world areas are immoderate of nan worst-designed spaces I’ve encountered.

The subordinate characteristic of Atomic Heart gazes astatine his near hand, while an older female looks connected down him. Image: Mundfish/Focus Entertainment, 4Divinity

Aside from playing big to galore useful crafting materials, I counsel — if you insist connected continuing — skipping nan unfastened world altogether. The crippled is stingy pinch ammo which you’re amended disconnected redeeming for corridor fights and leader battles.

After all, fto maine repeat: Atomic Heart’s open-world robots endlessly respawn. I cannot fathom this creation prime aliases why it is truthful antagonistic to your presence. Even FromSoftware games, celebrated for their worlds’ antagonism toward players, semi-permanently termination enemies.

But nan open-world creation is schematic of nan wider point: The crippled is trying to do everything and truthful wins astatine almost nothing. BioShock had large beautiful spaces, but did not inject specified creation into gameplay — location was nary request to diversify its focus, arsenic it stuck to 1 taxable and played it. Atomic Heart, successful its effort astatine complexity, spins a 1000 plates and drops many. If nan developers had hewed much intimately to BioShock, it would person stuck to its underground facilities, playing cautiously to its halfway theme. It would person made a sometimes enjoyable crippled into a memorable one.