It’s safe to say that Atlas Fallen doesn’t make a great first impression. A confusing and messy introduction followed by a dull gameplay section that’s mired with poor voice acting and unattractive visuals means you’re not likely to get off on the right foot with this semi-open world action adventure. Stick with it though, and things do get better. We doubt anyone is ever going to consider Atlas Fallen great, but it does have some neat ideas.
At the centre of Atlas Fallen lies a gauntlet. Finding it changes your custom-created character’s life forever, granting them a range of superhuman abilities. But it also leaves you with a lot of questions. What exactly is it? What was it made for? And why has it become attached to you? These are the questions you must find answers for on your adventure. And it’s thanks to the powers granted to you by the gauntlet that doing so is even possible.
You see, the world of Atlas Fallen is a dangerous one. This world is dry and arid, full of sandy deserts and ruins. Even worse, creatures called Wraiths wait for unsuspecting victims around every corner. They come in a variety of shapes and sizes, and often have armoured plates making them even more formidable. But thanks to your gauntlet and a small selection of weapons, you have the power to fight them off.
Combat plays a large role in Atlas Fallen, and thankfully it’s one of the highlights of the game. Despite being developed by The Surge creator Deck 13, the combat here is more your typical action adventure game fare than than of a Soulslike. You need to block and dodge to avoid enemy attacks, but you don’t have to worry about stamina. And depending on the difficulty you play on, you can take a considerable beating before meeting an untimely demise.
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What makes the combat stand out here is a Momentum meter. As you dish out and receive damage it fills up, eventually filling up to three bars. At each threshold, a number of perks and abilities become available depending on what runes you have found and equipped. By filling the first level of the Momentum meter, for example, you might gain access to a damage boost and the ability to throw your weapon at enemies. By filling it to max, an even more powerful special attack might be unlocked.
There’s a downside to having a full Momentum meter, though. The more Momentum you have, the more damage you take. If you’re wary of this, thankfully you can purge your Momentum meter and also perform a devastating Shatter Attack in the process, damaging and freezing enemies in an area. It’s certainly useful when you’re in a bit of a bind.
Other gameplay elements that add a bit of pizazz to the game’s combat system include being able to perform air dashes, and customise your weapon loadout. It all adds up to create a game in which combat keeps you on your toes, especially when facing off against larger enemies that must be taken down systematically by breaking their parts. It’s just a shame the camera doesn’t always feel likes it’s on your side.
Accompanying the combat is a generous amount of exploration, and this is also pretty enjoyable. You can glide along bodies of sand at great speed which is always a lark, and bouts of platforming involving raising objects and jumping and dashing always reward you with something, whether it’s an artefact that can be sold for cold hard cash or a collectible.
How much time you’ll spend in each of the game’s numerous open environments, however, largely depends on what difficulty you’re playing on, and how much you like collecting things. Play on the easiest difficulty, for example, and your foes generally present little challenge, meaning you can mostly push on without having to complete side quests and the likes to gain resources and upgrades. If you choose a higher difficulty, though, the perks granted by upgrading your armour sets and benefits granted by upgrading your runes can be invaluable.
You can have a lot of fun with Atlas Fallen if you stick with it, then, but some issues persist beyond the game’s abysmal intro. Alongside the presence of some minor but irksome bugs, the voice acting remains pretty dire. And, playing on PS5 for review, while the visuals are sometimes impressive, for the most part they’re average at best. Basically, if the gameplay doesn’t grab you, there’s little else that will.
It’s a shame that Atlas Fallen isn’t a little more polished – it’s clear that it’s a title very much held back by its budget – but it’s enjoyable nonetheless. While you’re not likely to be captivated by its story or wowed by its presentation, its combat and exploration, both buoyed by the skills granted to you by your mysterious gauntlet, are likely to keep you playing. Provided you make it through the game’s off-putting opening, that is.