Reviews are now officially in for Atomic Heart, the Bioshock-esque adventure game from mysterious studio, Mundfish – and they seem to be an oddly mixed bag. Some reviewers have praised the game for its eye-catching visuals, unique puzzles, and sleek combat. Others have called the action laughably bad, with the game’s narrative and characters being major sticking points. While reviewers agree it’s an ambitious project, and one that looks absolutely stunning, it does appear the experience isn’t quite as smooth or impressive as many anticipated.
Here’s what to expect from Atomic Heart, per recent reviews.
IGN – 8/10
One of the highest review scores for Atomic Heart has been delivered by IGN, who gave it a solid 8/10. Praise was particularly given for the game’s imaginative riff on the Bioshock formula, and its clever puzzles:
‘Atomic Heart is a deeply ambitious, highly imaginative, and consistently impressive atompunk-inspired attempt at picking up where the likes of BioShock left off – something it’s done with a lot of success,’ reviewer Luke Reilly wrote. ‘It certainly makes missteps, chiefly with an irritating leading man and a self-indulgent habit of using the same tired tropes it tries to make fun of, but this stern, super-powered, and stringently solo shooter has worked its way under my skin despite these flaws.’
Press Start Australia – 6.5/10
Our pals at Press Start Australia had a similar experience, but found the game’s performance, and its uneven narrative, held it back from greatness:
‘Atomic Heart is all at once the strangest, most off-the-wall, most bombastic game I think I’ll play this year. It’s got a self-referential, almost self-deprecating sense of humour that surprised me to no end and its nods to the games it so badly wanted to be – see any BioShock game – were so on the nose,’ reviewer Brodie Gibbons wrote. ‘To put it the only way I feel I can, Atomic Heart is unadulterated, pulp schlock.’
GameSpot – 6/10
GameSpot praised the game’s combat and soundtrack, but cited major disparities in its moving parts. It also noted Atomic Heart does little to endear itself to players, and that its storyline fails to do justice to a ‘cool premise’:
‘There are quite a few parts of Atomic Heart that just don’t neatly fit together, and those disparities create an experience that often feels at odds with itself,’ reviewer Jordan Ramée wrote. ‘That disparity is most evident in how the history of the world in Atomic Heart is interesting and sets up an intriguing conversation about the nature of free will and collectivism, but then the unlikable protagonist repeatedly prevents that topic from being explored.’
GamesRadar+ – 5/10
GamesRadar+ had praise for the game’s big idea and concepts, but similarly felt disappointed by the messiness of the game’s story, and its failure to grasp its true potential:
‘Atomic Heart front-loads its most fascinating concepts,’ reviewer Josh West wrote. ‘There are floating Soviet laboratories in the sky, home to a networked artificial intelligence which could signal the evolution of human consciousness; a veteran USSR operative who can’t recall his past, and an army of rampaging robots designating the populace of Facility 3826 as enemy combatants after a software malfunction … Sadly, Mundfish isn’t able to weave these loose threads into anything functional.’
GameRant – 4/10
GameRant had a considerably worse time with the game, citing ‘an incredible amount of bloat’ that rendered the entire experience a drawn-out drag:
‘A simple playthrough of Atomic Heart will take players around 25 hours to beat, which is a solid playtime generally. This gives the game plenty of time to set up its story, delve into its most interesting parts, and back it up with fun mechanics and gameplay. But it doesn’t do that,’ reviewer Joshua Duckworth wrote. ‘Of that playtime, less than half of it involves something interesting or fun, while the rest is nothing but frustrating bloat, resulting in a game that can be best summarised as an incongruent mess.’
With such a mixed response, it does appear Atomic Heart will be an acquired taste. Players keen to check it out should consider their interest in the game’s action-adventure roots, and whether a weak story can be overlooked in favour of flashy combat, and a gorgeous world.
Atomic Heart is set to launch for PlayStation 4, PlayStation 5, Xbox One, Xbox Series X/S and Windows PC on 21 February 2023.
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