Overall - 70%
While Atlas Fallen is a perfectly fine game, fine doesn't quite cut it in 2023. If you're dying to hunt down Wraiths, wait for a discount first.
Roughly a year after being first shown, Deck13 and Focus Entertainment’s Atlas Fallen arrives between Baldur’s Gate 3 and Starfield. Does the game do enough to stand out in what has proven to be a stellar year for gaming, or will it fall by the wayside?
Atlas Fallen Review
Players will step into the shoes of a refugee stuck in a camp that is hanging on by a thread. The camp’s soldiers abuse and use the inhabitants for their own means. However, when something is stolen from camp, players will set out to find the thief. From there, one is called by something known as “The Voice,” leading players to a magical Gauntlet. Using this Gauntlet, you can access newfound weapons and skills to fight back against the Wraiths surrounding your camp. After this, you eventually find the thief, and your camp is wiped out by what is known as a Watcher.
Escaping the Watcher, players will then enter a large desert filled with more Wraiths and Watchers. Coming across a small town of survivors trying to find their way out of the desert, they turn to the player and their Gauntlet to escape.
Before one can do that, however, players will need to power up and do some side missions.
Atlas Fallen’s open-world has plenty to see, but it’s also pretty generic. Most side quests involve finding someone, killing something, or powering yourself up. Some early quests feel more like additional tutorials than actual quests. Still, getting the power-ups is the only way to survive some of the harder enemies and boss fights. You grind the quests to get more essence, and from there can upgrade your armor and Gauntlet stones.
The stones are how you get new skills and passive buffs, including more damage, higher defense, and better counterattacks. Unlike most games, you don’t unlock these by leveling up. Instead, you must find blueprints and fuse them or find the skills in chests. You can equip up to three skills and eight buffs at a time, leaving plenty of room for experimentation. Once I found what worked for me, I rarely switched unless it was to do more damage to flying enemies (because screw flying enemies).
While exploring, other things to do include traversal puzzles, animal discovery, elite enemy fights, and Watcher Tower destruction. Animals lead you to chests and sometimes rare materials for upgrades. Elite enemies are like they sound: mini-bosses with more skill stones and upgrade stones. The puzzles are hit-and-miss, but most of them are following one line to another, then another, and another within a specific time limit. The Towers have you facing waves of enemies until a boss pops up, with beating it down clearing the region of the Watcher’s influence. Everything here is pretty typical open-world checklist stuff.
The combat itself is fast and hectic. At first, you can easily spam attacks and bust enemies into pieces. However, as you progress, enemies start having certain body parts that must be destroyed to kill them. This is fine on land since you can move around quickly and destroy pieces, but air enemies are different. You have multiple air dashes and double jumps, but maneuvering the air against enemies is never fun. It’d work great if you could just hit wherever you wanted and destroy enemies. I’m not sure why the “breaking parts” system was needed; it just drags the combat down.
One of the game’s best features can be found in its traversal mechanics. I already mentioned the sand surfing, but the vertical movement is also excellent. You start off with a double jump and one dash. As you upgrade, you can do multiple jumps and dashes in mid-air. It is fluid and precise, allowing for sudden direction changes if needed. There is one downside to this freedom, though. You will often run into invisible walls or slide down mountainsides that you think you can climb. It’s annoying, but you get used to it.
Tech-wise, I did have a few frame drops. I also had one crash, but thankfully the auto-save functionality only brought me back about a minute.
While Atlas Fallen is a perfectly fine game, fine doesn’t quite cut it in 2023. If you’re dying to hunt down Wraiths, wait for a discount first.
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