In Deck 13’s action-adventure, the standout move is the sand slide. Empowered by a mysterious otherworldly force, your character glides across vast desert expanses as if riding an invisible snowboard, sweeping over dunes and banking turns by manipulating the sand beneath their feet. The experience of cruising through an open world on this sandy wave is immediately appealing, invoking a sense of smooth and flashy fun. However, this enthusiasm is dampened as questions arise: why doesn’t “Atlas Fallen” capitalize on this exhilarating feature?
Atlas Fallen Game Specifications
Quick Facts: ATLAS FALLEN
Release Date: August 10, 2023
Platforms: PC, PS5, Xbox Series X
Publisher: Focus Entertainment
Atlas Fallen Trailer
Following an introductory segment that guides you through mastering this new skill, you might anticipate a series of thrilling chase sequences scattered throughout the game or slopes that enable you to gather speed and launch across the landscape. Yet, beyond its stylish appearance, sand sliding essentially boils down to another method of running – functionally identical to the character’s sprint action when not on a sandy surface. This limitation is both disappointing and emblematic of a game that, once you delve beneath the surface, offers very little of substance.
One of the few standout aspects is the movement of your customizable character, whether sliding or not. As the plot of “Atlas Fallen” introduces you to a magic gauntlet housing the spirit of the enigmatic Nyaal, you’ll effortlessly slide, double jump, roll, and air dash. Armed with an axe and whip conjured from sand (a nod to “God of War”), you engage in combat against hostile monsters known as wraiths, executing crispy combos while embracing a flair reminiscent of Bayonetta’s poise.
However, don’t be overly swayed by these flashy elements, as “Atlas Fallen” struggles to translate these skills into compelling gameplay experiences. Despite its open-world structure (technically divided into discrete areas accessed sequentially), the game lacks ambition. NPCs scarcely greet you before requesting favors, marked by colorful indicators on the map. More often than not, you’ll find yourself dispatching wraiths before returning for a reward. Occasionally, markers encircle hidden objects, requiring a search within the designated perimeter. Unfortunately, the overall experience is as uninspiring and monotonous as it sounds.
The gauntlet also grants you another significant ability called ‘Raise,’ allowing you to lift marked chunks of stone from the ground to bridge gaps. Though its use is highly prescribed, it aids in uncovering paths for exploration and introduces mild platforming challenges that add a touch of verticality to the landscapes. However, most treasure chests at the end of these challenges yield either cash or precious artifacts that can be sold for cash.
Much like a routine open-world game, your gameplay largely involves moving from one task to another, resembling a courier on the go. Yet, even this straightforward process encounters obstacles due to the map’s two-dimensional representation of a three-dimensional world. Reaching a marker often reveals a need to be much higher or lower, necessitating different routes. Given the emphasis on navigation within the game’s environments, the camera’s inability to tilt at steep angles and glitchy movement on slopes are frustrating, exacerbated by aggressive pop-in while racing about.
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This ordinary execution of ordinary concepts extends to the game’s combat. Despite initial promise, it’s challenging to grasp, as if its systems resist your efforts. Both the camera and lock-on mechanics require constant micro-management for coherence. Whatever you target tends to dart across the arena, leaving you vulnerable to attacks from unseen angles. The presence of warning arrows for off-screen assaults is somewhat helpful, yet focusing on them and visible enemies simultaneously proves challenging. A large wraith’s presence can further obstruct your view.
The parry system is equally confounding and essential, remaining a mystery even after spending 20 hours playing. Reacting to red sparks signaling incoming attacks works inconsistently, and while familiarity grows with the wraiths you encounter repeatedly (a mere 16 types in total), success remains as uncertain as defeat. When compared to contemporaries like “Wo Long: Fallen Dynasty,” “Atlas Fallen” falls short.
However, combat in “Atlas Fallen” has its moments of satisfaction. Aerial battles can be maintained for gratifyingly extended durations, using the whip and air dash to engage hovering enemies. The ability to target and disable specific body parts on larger wraiths adds depth to taking them down. Customization potential is also notable, particularly in the array of special moves earned and chosen between. Mastering combat occurred for me when using these abilities to circumvent the camera’s hindrances and parry system challenges.
This innovative aspect, how abilities are implemented in combat, deserves to reside in a more developed game. Accumulating ‘momentum’ during fights boosts damage dealt and received, and growing momentum activates equipped perks and attacks. The most potent abilities come into play when the momentum bar nears full. You can also unleash a ‘shatter’ attack by emptying all momentum, damaging nearby enemies. Deciding when to release this barrage or continue accumulating momentum adds a clever risk-reward dimension.
Yet, even when “Atlas Fallen” gains momentum, it consistently reverts to a state of mediocrity, particularly evident in its narrative elements. From its setting to its lore, plot, and characters, everything feels clichéd, tired, and uninspired. The central narrative involving an evil god overseeing a desolate land presents scenarios that could fit into any generic fantasy setting. Conversations with NPCs lack depth, as opinions shift instantly with your suggestions. The script itself is disappointingly flat, mirrored by uninspired voice acting.
Most irksome is the game’s lack of substance and commitment. Rescuing a group of individuals and resettling them in a new community only briefly touches on modern debates surrounding immigration. The narrative rarely delves deeper than such superficial observations.
Ultimately, “Atlas Fallen” embodies mediocrity. It’s not a catastrophe; it showcases proficiency in some areas and adequacy in others, with moments of manageability at worst. However, this creative void raises questions about the value of the entire endeavor. If you yearn for another open-world action-adventure, especially for its co-op feature, you might derive some enjoyment from this sandbox. Otherwise, let it pass by without a second thought.