A janky action-RPG destined for the bargain bin or something truly great? We break it down in our Atlas Fallen review!
I have a confession to make: I love ridiculous, messy open-world games that most people/reviewers don’t. Some of my favorite games of all time are ones with monstrous ambition (Ghost Recon: Wildlands), with a satisfying neverending checklist (Watch Dogs 2), or the formula that’s been tired a console generation ago. So little to my surprise, Atlas Fallen is a game that holds massive appeal to me.
The sands are far from desolate in Atlas Fallen, with plenty to explore.
There’s tons of action RPG’s that have been destined for discounts in recent memory. Whether it’s Immortals: Fenix Rising, The Technomancer, or even developer Deck13’s The Surge and The Surge 2, you can typically grab these games for a few dollars on sale. So why would Atlas Fallen be worth full price? Does it nail what it sets out to be, a comprehensive RPG to sink dozens of hours into, engaging the player from start to finish?
Atlas Fallen Review – Performance/Visuals
Atlas Fallen is presented in a mystic fantasy desert landscape. The world is vast, and while there’s fast travel, you’ll be traversing the land by gliding along the sand at a breakneck pace. As such, your attention will gravitate towards the environment, and I’m pleased to say that Atlas Fallen is quite the looker. In addition, there’s not too much noticeable pop-in as you go from point A to point B. There’s reports of the console ports having muddy textures, but rest assured that the PC iteration is eye candy.
Atlas Fallen is gorgeous. And on top of that, it runs spectacularly on capable hardware.
The performance in Atlas Fallen is a well-tuned experience, as well. It’s tricky to buy PC games at launch with so many rigs struggling to perform how the developers want it to, but Atlas Fallen runs like a dream on modest hardware. I never had drops below 60 frames-per-second maxing the game out, even in tense combat scenarios or quick open-world traversal. It’s refreshing to see a game perform how it should at launch.
Atlas Fallen Review – Gameplay
The most important part of an action-RPG to me is its gameplay. If I’m not consistently upgrading my character, encountering tougher and tougher enemies, and feeling myself getting stronger, then the game isn’t a success. Luckily, this is Atlas Fallen‘s undeniable strong-suit. Through my playthrough, my create-a-character got better armor, better abilities, and the fights got me more and more involved.
Atlas Fallen has a decent create-a-character, but some voice/expressions would have made it even better.
Combat in Atlas Fallen has a novel system: momentum. To use certain abilities, you’ll have to land hits and parry a certain amount of time to get to the point where you can execute moves or use passives that can give you the edge in tough battles. Dodging and switching between powerful close-range and versatile long-range hits is key.
Keep an eye out for the flag of the travelling vendor in Atlas Fallen, as he’ll have key items you’ll need in your journey.
Plus, upgrading your armor also unlocks perks, all of which can be enhanced at any anvil you discover, where fast travel/saving also occurs. It’s a convenient, streamlined system that establishes your gameplay loop early on so that you’ll know what quests to work towards and where to go first.
Dialogue options don’t do much in Atlas Fallen, as each of the two selections lead to the same outcome.
The systems within Atlas Fallen may not be original, but they are well-planned and far beyond adequate. The map is easy to navigate, trading with vendors is simple with prices being fair for what you earn after combat, and you’re rewarded by going off the beaten path and discovering everything the game has to offer. Deck13 knew to make the gameplay of Atlas Fallen a top priority, and players accustomed to this genre will get exactly what they want out of the game.
Atlas Fallen Review – Story
It’s rare for a game with outstanding combat to pair it with a story that keeps that pace. Sadly, Atlas Fallen is far from a memorable tale. The main story beat is that your gauntlet is the source of your power, there’s an essence of a living being within it that talks to you, you’re tasked with fighting enemies way out of your league that you have to work your way up to in strength… this has all been done before, and luckily most of your playtime will be spent fighting wraiths and not within a cliched story.
The epic scenery in Atlas Fallen is sparse, and cutscenes are middling. Thankfully, this is an afterthought and not the main attraction.
For gamers who care more about the journey and not the destination, Atlas Fallen will suffice. I am more than willing to look past a flaw a game has if the sum of its parts result in an enjoyable experience, and bashing away at baddies while you focus on your next upgrade is where your headspace will be at as you work through this game. As such, its lacklustre story gets a pass and is far from a dealbreaker.
Atlas Fallen Review – Audio
Atlas Fallen runs on the Fledge engine, used in other Deck13 games such as The Surge and Lords of the Fallen. It’s proprietary, but sounds are great within it. As you initiate a sprint in the sand, you can hear your feet meld with the sand as you begin to skate at a quick pace. Landing hits on enemies earns you a satisfying “whack”, and I even got chills summoning a tornado right after unlocking that momentum ability.
Sand-sliding is exhilarating in Atlas Fallen, as you speed through its open world in a rush.
Voice acting in Atlas Fallen could have used some fine-tuning, though. There’s only one voice for your create-a-character, and the performance for the voice inside your gauntlet isn’t too inspired. NPCs typically have some personality, but could benefit from some more emotion. Nevertheless, as mentioned before, this is a nitpick within the grand scheme of you enjoying a vast open-world and tight combat and shouldn’t detract you from entering this world.
Atlas Fallen Review – Conclusion
When you reach the checkout screen for a game like Atlas Fallen, you know exactly what you’re signing up for. You know that this isn’t the hyper-polished, AAA experience, but instead, a game you can sink a ton of time into and flex your gaming skills with. To answer the question I posed in the introduction, Atlas Fallen may not be a $50 game, but it’s one that’s going to be worth your purchase when it inevitably, swiftly hits a sale soon. You’ll not regret your time exploring, delving, and completing everything you want to in this great action RPG.
So, why should you play Atlas Fallen?
- Great combat, scenery, and gameplay loop make this a thrilling experience to plug away at for hours on end.
- Performs great on PC and looks the part, too.
- Is likely to hit a sale sooner than later.
But why shouldn’t you play Atlas Fallen?
- Lacking in story, voice acting, and replayability.
- Release date is a death sentence a week after Baldur’s Gate 3.
A review code was kindly provided courtesy of Focus Home Entertainment for the purpose of our Atlas Fallen review. If you enjoyed this review, be sure to check out more of our reviews and join the Qualbert Discord to chat with us about upcoming releases!