Atlas Fallen is an action RPG developed by Deck13 and published by Focus Entertainment available for PC, PlayStation 5, and Xbox Series X|S. Released at a peculiar time due to the great clamor aroused by Baldur's Gate 3 landing on PC, Atlas Fallen had a great boulder on its shoulders to be able to impose itself as one of the most played games of this August: the developers will have succeeded to make the game attractive to the most? Find out in our Atlas Fallen review.
A long journey in the desert
The world of Atlas Fallen is fascinating in and of itself. It is a planet that is rapidly becoming arid and is dominated by the unsettling statue of the god Thelos, who is responsible for its demise by sapping its life force. The aristocrats, who reside in livable cities like Lithesta, and the Nameless, the worthless slaves and mercenaries who eke out an existence in outposts strewn throughout the vast desert, are the two halves of the corporation that divided.
An actual Nameless is our alter ego. When a weird glove is found, it contains a chatty soul who has no memory of how he got there or what brought him there, and his fate is significantly altered. The glove obviously bestows upon us superhuman abilities that have the potential to free us from the control of Thelos and its adherents and, more importantly, enable us to engage in fair combat with the terrifying ghosts that stalk the desert, to which we are enigmatically connected by a twin thread.
The story begins with a mundane but intriguing premise, but it quickly flattens out and is reduced to serving as a mere excuse for exploration and conflict. There are so few turns and turns in the main campaign that you can essentially count them on one hand. The only reason to keep going is to unlock the next objectives and the new areas to explore that come along with it.
The gauntlet's power
Almost everything in Atlas Fallen is centered around the glove and its abilities; in fact, the main campaign will occasionally pause while you search for the pieces necessary to perfect the capabilities the glove bestows in order to unlock areas that have been closed off to you up until that point. In order to complete an objective, you must occasionally use the unlocked powers of the glove. Sometimes all you need to do is locate the NPC or chest containing the turn's fragment. Other times, you must take down a boss.
A number of combat-related talents, including the dodge, are also unlocked by the glove and can be used whenever, even after repeated use. Due to the limited number of foes in the maps, Deck13 clearly intended for the gameplay to be based on exploration and discovery, leaving combat as an important but minor component.
The first thing you should be aware of is that dodging has a new defensive ability called Skin of Sand, which is the most technically complex aspect of gameplay. This new defensive ability is similar to a parry and protects the character for a brief period of time before needing to recharge before being used again. The idea is straightforward: by parrying enemy blows repeatedly, a paralyzing effect that freezes the target is gained, giving us a little window of time to strike him without restriction.
Atlas Fallen fighting mechanics
Up to three different weapons can be obtained as you advance through the campaign; however, you can only have two of them equipped at once, one as your primary weapon and the other as your backup. Once you unlock the default settings, you can save up to three different combinations of Stones and Weapons to switch between them whenever you aren't engaged in combat. Each weapon has a defined range and power.
A gauge known as The Impetus, which is separated into three notches and charged by combating foes, is located beneath the gauge for essential energy. More harm is done, but also more harm is done to us as the momentum builds. Essence Stones, unique interactive or passive abilities that fit into the slots corresponding to the three notches and take effect when the relevant Impetus level is attained can be used to modify the Impetus indication. These abilities are activated when the associated Impetus level is reached.
Space? What is space?
Atlas Fallen has a few other issues that we want to draw attention to, in addition to an incomplete exploration and a story that never really takes off. However, we would like to make it clear that while some of them are probably going to be fixed in upcoming updates, there are some that we don't think the development team will be able to fix because they relate to the game's design and structure.
Due to the lack of feedback from your strikes and the difficulty of precisely calculating distances in 3D space, you frequently feel as though you are hitting the air and can't block or dodge effectively. Additionally, your shots frequently miss or hit in an arbitrary manner, making it difficult to do block or dodge maneuvers. As opposed to issues with adversaries that vanish and then reappear in different locations, texture issues, and an unreliable camera, this one is considerably more structured, making it seem doubtful that Deck13 will be able to fix it.
Go there, find the item, find the person, and come back
Even the secondary missions, denoted by blue or green indicators, are numerous but not particularly inventive: at the end of the day, it comes down to tracking down an enigmatic character, slaying foes, or collecting objects. Up until this point, there would be nothing wrong, barring any pits that add very little or nothing to the game's story or visuals.
The creation of the world is thus left to the “environmental narrative” beloved of soulslikes (a genre to which Deck13's earlier works belong), but the disorganized ruins that timidly appear among the sand dunes, the bridges suspended in space, and the stone arches that led to ancient strongholds don't add anything to the story; instead, they just serve to set the scene, and they succeed because the panoramas of Atlas Fallen are bloody successful.
Exploring Atlas is enjoyable because of the mobility that is gained immediately along with the glove, but over time you come to realize that it is a monotonous activity and a means to an end in itself. There are artifacts to be sold, statues to be destroyed, timed challenges to complete, chests to open, or Essence Stones to socket in the glove. However, it is these traits that are connected to the glove's abilities that are the source of the issue. The aerial momentum and extraction power are introduced early in the adventure, but the gameplay dynamics are unaltered, and what you accomplished in the first hour of the game is what you perform for the remaining fifteen hours, which are required to reach the game's conclusion.
Atlas Fallen review – 6.5/10
In conclusion, Atlas Fallen is an action RPG full of ideas that are not expressed to their full potential: many are not very original, while others are very ingenious. The narrative is flat and never takes off, which does not stimulate exploration of the game world, also because the secondary activities present are not well diversified from each other and do not encourage the player to discover more, also because there it's a lot to discover.
The gameplay could have been the most successful part of the whole work, thanks also to some interesting ideas developed by the developers, but there are obvious problems in the realization of the same that fail to make this aspect excel. The most striking thing about Atlas Fallen, however, is the artistic direction: the landscapes and settings are suggestive and successful. Unfortunately, however, this is not enough to make the title a must-have and therefore we recommend it only to those who are truly passionate about the genre.
Game was reviewed on PlayStation 5 with the code provided by Publisher.