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Atomic Heart has a great aesthetic in search of a more interesting game

I believe it was the second time Atomic Coronary heart’s (opens in new tab) protagonist uttered his quasi-catchphrase—a flabbergasted “Crispy critters!”—that I started to fret that my hopes for the sport had been misplaced. An FPS with RPG parts and lots of immersive sim inspiration, it has been one of the crucial intriguing video games on my radar ever since its first trailer dropped again in 2018 (opens in new tab), echoing BioShock, Stalker, Nier—principally every little thing pensive, formidable, and bizarre—and finding all of it in a retro-future Soviet utopia-gone-awry. Even the soundtrack for these trailers, that includes a number of the most potent deployments of Alla Pugacheva (opens in new tab) because the fall of the Berlin Wall, appeared to vow one thing that was confident and attention-grabbing. However having gotten some hands-on time with it, I am nervous Atomic Coronary heart may not be very attention-grabbing in any respect.

Fairly vacant

Let’s begin with the great things: Atomic Coronary heart appears to be like nice. Think about the pomaded, pearly-toothed optimism that we affiliate with the Nineteen Fifties USA in our personal actuality, and transplant it right into a world of towering Stalinist skyscrapers and cloyingly-helpful robots. A technological revolution has turned the USSR right into a seemingly-uncontested world hegemon within the sport’s model of 1955, and everybody’s having a grand previous time whereas an android workforce—whose designs vary from normal uncanny valley humanoid fare to shambling, pot-bellied issues harking back to that 2005 Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy (opens in new tab) movie—does all of the precise labour. The trailers weren’t mendacity, the sport actually is impressively visually inventive.

An image of a Soviet city in Atomic Heart, strewn with advertisements and propaganda.

(Image credit: Mundfish)
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However as thrilling as Atomic Coronary heart appears to be like, I by no means obtained the impression the sport was ever going to search out a lot to truly say about lots of these things. As a sport from a Russian studio that pulls apparent inspiration from BioShock, I might gone into Atomic Coronary heart with excessive hopes for some distinctive historic reflection. However outdoors of some stale social credit (opens in new tab) jokes, the sport by no means actually appears to have a lot curiosity within the precise Soviet Union as something aside from a supply of immediately-recognisable visible weirdness. Nu, Pogodi! (opens in new tab) performs within the sport’s save rooms (an oddly Resident Evil-ish contact) and random Soviet propaganda posters deck the ruined halls of facility 3826 (opens in new tab), however they solely really feel like easter eggs for these of us nerdy sufficient to care. From what I’ve performed, it is disappointingly bored with historic Soviet socialism.

It’s all for comedy, although, which I am unable to say I used to be anticipating. Whether or not it is the rocket-launcher-toting grandma or the tediously attractive weapons improve robotic that turns each interplay into an prolonged gag about ‘inserting’ supplies, Atomic Coronary heart is inescapably zany. Numerous the humour comes from the participant character, Main Nechaev, and his AI companion Charles. The pair have a form of comedy double-act factor happening, with Charles the exasperated straight man to Nechaev’s quippy protagonist. Earlier than I used to be even 5 minutes into enjoying, I innocently interacted with a cellphone sales space and was baffled to search out myself engaged in a scene during which Nechaev requested a stranger on the opposite finish of the road if that they had Prince Albert in a can. Charles was not amused.

An image of Nechaev and Granny Zina from Atomic Heart.

(Image credit: Mundfish)
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Nu, Pogodi! performs within the sport’s save rooms and random Soviet propaganda posters deck the ruined halls of facility 3826, however they solely really feel like easter eggs for these of us nerdy sufficient to care

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