Atlas Fallen – Review

Atlas Fallen, and I can't get up.

When the credits rolled on Atlas Fallen, after 11 hours of sand surfing and wraith killing, I wasn’t filled with satisfaction or triumph, I was filled with frustration and relief. Go back 5 hours in that timeline, and I would have told you I didn’t want the game to end. Like football, this was a game of two halves, the first filled with curiosity, and comparisons to Darksiders, Devil May Cry, Monster Hunter, and so many other titles. The second half however was a totally different story.

The opening beats of Atlas Fallen, don’t exactly break any new ground on paper. Playing as ‘Unnamed’ a random nobody, you discover a magical gauntlet infused with the power of a god, quickly thrust in to an age old story of rebellion vs an oppressive god called Thelos and their religion. Standard idea, but it’s what you do with it that matters, I mean, the current box office hit is a movie about a childrens toy. Execution is just as important as concept.

Unfortunately, that’s the first hurdle where Atlas Fallen… Falls. There’s so much potential here to explore, questions to ask. A world ravaged by an oppressive god who’s draining the life out of it. A caste system where people lose their identity’s and names. A rebellion led by a group of knights against the ‘Thousand Year Queen’. There’s potential in them there hills! But it’s unrealised, you only ever skim across the surface of these ideas. The issue is only worsened by lackluster voice acting and dialogue scenes. They feel wooden, with minimal action taking place, and the content of them isn’t much better.

Which is a shame, the world of Atlas is filled with sidequests, collectables and voice notes that try to expand on the world Deck13 have built. One such note I discovered told the story of a man who remembered having a name once, but he couldn’t remember what it was, as it had been taken from him. I was hoping that I might find more notes on this subject, were names taken by some mystical force? Was it just done at a young age, so long ago that he had forgotten simply by time itself? I never found out, I can only hope that a note lays hidden in the sands somewhere that answers that question.
And the world is filled with little bits of information like that, people called simply by their job titles, quests to uncoverer more knowledge of the world or new ‘Essence Stones’ for you to use, but I found myself lacking any desire to help out, because the quests were more often than not, bordering on generic MMO quests.

All of that could be forgiven, when the combat system is introduced. Given Deck13’s resume contains The Surge franchise it would make sense that the combat would be enjoyable. A fluid system with a few moving parts helps keep it interesting throughout the whole game. Combat sees you picking 2 weapons, out of a choice of 3. Each one comes with its own combos which you can easily weave together with both weapons to create an approach that fits your playstyle. A momentum system rewards dealing damage and parrying attacks, the higher your momentum bar, the more damage you deal, and take, in a risk reward trade off, but also unlocks abilities you’ve slotted in to your gauntlet in the form of ‘Essence Stones’.

Essence Stones come in 5 colour coded flavours, 3 tiers, and with Active and Passive options. Want to deal more damage when you’re outnumbered? There’s a stone for that. Want more loot if you finish a Wraith with a shatter ability? Say no more. What about some extra healing for your co-op partner? Look at you being a good friend. Some stones can also be upgraded so they remain relevant for longer, with more abilities being found scattered throughout the world or as quest rewards.

All the Colours of the Rainbow

You’ve got your weapons chosen, you’ve got your stones slotted in to your gauntlet like a mad titan, but you need something to hit. Good news! Thelos has filled the world with Wraiths for you to slaughter. Wraiths come in three flavours, Lesser, Greater, and Colossal. But this is a Deck13 game, which means that you can target specific body parts. Lesser Wraiths simply have a single health bar, once it’s done they’re done. Greater and Colossal Wraiths have multiple body parts, that come in two flavours, Cataylst and Piñata. Catalyst parts are highlighted in red, destroy all of these and the Wraith falls over. Some of the body parts might be neutral stone colour, you can ignore those if you choose, or you can destroy them for higher chances at loot.

Combat truly is the highlight of Atlas Fallen. Several times I found myself checking the map to see where the closest Wraith was, simply so I could fight more things, rather than avoid them and just B-Line for the next main quest. Combat is so enjoyable that it almost outweighs the generic story, and lack of environmental variety. I say almost because with a system as fast and fluid as this, bugs can not only annoy, but ruin your enjoyment outright. During our review, I had Wraiths that I couldn’t target. Wraiths that had all body parts destroyed but refused to die. The penultimate boss fight where they couldn’t be damaged as minions you needed to kill had spawned underground. The reward at the end of this frustrating journey was then a final boss fight that crashed… Twice.

At times I wanted to fall in love with Atlas Fallen, especially due to it being a co-op game. You could easily treat Atlas Fallen like Outriders, Stranger of Paradise, Monster Hunter or Godfall, a platform for you and a friend to just have some monster killing fun, choosing to engage with the story as much or as little as you want. But you’ll spend less time in it than any of those other titles, and depending on how many bugs you hit along the way, your frustration might outweigh your enjoyment. With all that in mind Atlas Fallen is a title best left until a few patches and a sale make it a more tempting offer.

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Dave Spanton

Dave Spanton

Unable to juggle or whistle, Dave handles the PR side of things at LT3 and also is one of the main content creators for the site. Which means if something's broken, you can most likely blame him.

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