Atomic Heart May Not be Perfect, But It’s Just Right for Game Pass

A little over four years ago, developer Mundfish revealed the team’s latest project: Atomic Heart. Set in an alternate timeline (not inspired by the Marvel Multiverse), the USSR made major strides in technology, introducing synthetics and creating the “perfect society.” Of course, it wouldn’t be a proper video game if everything went well, and everything does indeed fall apart as the robots rebel and throw the Soviet Union into chaos.

The reveal trailer captivated millions as it oozed absolute mechanical chaos, with snippets showcasing a blend of Bioshock and NieR: Automata elements as the protagonist fights off bloodthirsty automatons and travels through the depths of hell looking for answers. Each subsequent trailer built up the levels of promise Atomic Heart could reach, with the addition of Mick Gordon to round out the soundtrack and a Game Pass Day One addition serving as the icing on the proverbial cake.

After what feels like forever, Atomic Heart is finally here, and despite the immense build-up of promise, it falls flat. Numerous issues and design choices plague this heart, and while it’s not a dealbreaker, it solidifies how much of a boon Game Pass has been to the gaming industry. To perfectly sum up the crux of this argument, look no further than a few months back when High on Life arrived.

High on Life was Squanch Games’ big title, debuting on Game Pass and throwing players into a Rick and Morty space special. In all fairness, High on Life is a solid title, especially if you’re a fan of the previously mentioned adult sitcom and its overly aware sense of humor.

Atomic Heart release date
Image Source: Mundfish

If you aren’t, the charm wears thin within the first few hours of the 10-hour romp, as the gameplay loop is weaker than many could’ve hoped for, with linearity being king. It was best to experience this on Game Pass, as it didn’t cost anything to play this except your time.

While Atomic Heart and High on Life are two vastly different titles, you’ll start to notice some eerie similarities the longer you spend playing. The world-building itself is pretty good, as players guide Major P-3 through Facility 3826 while learning more about the cause of this I, Robot-esque mayhem.

When everything is right, combat is good, as you hack and slash your way through robots while casting unique skills akin to Bioshock’s Plasmids. It completely unfolds once you leave the close-quarter underground facility, as the open world is chock full of questionable design choices and lifelessness.

However, nearly identical to High on Life, Atomic Heart is held back by the evilest of evils: Major P-3 and bottom-tier writing. By now, you may have heard, but if you haven’t, the dialogue in Atomic Heart is horrid.

Major P-3 is the biggest jerk I’ve ever seen in a protagonist, and the upgrade machine is overly crude, as what you’ll experience in Atomic Heart would make Forspoken blush. While High on Life’s talk track will sit well with a certain crowd of players, Atomic Heart has nearly zero ounces of saving grace, except when you change the language to Russian.

Not every game has to be the greatest invention since sliced bread. This post also isn’t meant to pile on Atomic Heart, as it will satisfy a population of players looking for a slice of chaos while Bioshock is cooking up its next entry. That said, Atomic Heart has its fair share of misses, and being an Xbox or PC player is the best way to experience this title. You’ll only have wasted time on this dystopian trek, not the entry point of the retail price.

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