TechDiscover 'Atlas Fallen': An action-packed RPG showcasing stellar combat amid desert landscapes

Discover 'Atlas Fallen': An action-packed RPG showcasing stellar combat amid desert landscapes

Atlas Fallen - battle amidst the sand
Atlas Fallen - battle amidst the sand
Images source: ©
1:11 AM EST, January 25, 2024

I was pleasantly surprised by Atlas Fallen earlier this year when I participated in the early access phase of the game in March. This encompassed only the initial stage of the story. An action-packed game full of long and captivating battles set against a beautiful desert world, it filled a void in my gaming appetite. Does the full version live up to this promising start, and is Atlas Fallen worth playing?

Action aplenty in Atlas Fallen

In the world of Atlas Fallen, you play as a nameless character who stumbles upon a lost artifact, which predictably alters his life. He finds himself entrusted with an onerous task and must save the world from an evil, malevolent god. During his noble quest, he consistently saves his people, while simultaneously dealing with attempts from his enemies to sway him to their side. The plot is notably clichéd; reminiscent of countless romantic films. Despite this uninspired narrative, the game whizzes by in 15-20 hours.

Thankfully, the game's excessive action and thrilling combat make up for its lackluster plot. Our protagonist wields a potent gauntlet, with powers that let him shift into three distinct weapon forms, two of which we use simultaneously. Initially, we have access to: Dune Axe and Sand Whip. Then, shortly after, we unlock the Sand Fist.

The weapons differ in terms of statistics and purpose. The Sand Fist inflicts quick and significant damage but generates minimal momentum and possesses a limited range. The Sand Whip, conversely, boasts a wide range and maximizes momentum generation. It strikes quite rapidly but inflicts minor damage. The Dune Axe strikes a balance but also morphs into Heavy Hammer strikes which cause colossal damage.

Momentum system: the lifeblood of combat

Damage you inflict helps you build momentum, visibly represented on the meter in the lower-right part of the screen. This is split into three divisions – the more momentum you generate, the more additional attributes your hero can utilize during combat. You select these attributes by assigning essence stones to your gauntlet. Outside combat, you can swap these stones to customize your fighting tactics.

For example, one essence stone might amplify your momentum generation, but you lose it every time you receive damage. Others can bolster the damage you dish out or dampen enemy attacks. There are scores of them to choose from, promising rewarding variety. Besides passive traits, you can also designate three active skill stones. Despite sounding frenetic, this system is actually incredibly intuitive - I quickly identified my preferred stones.

Furthermore, charging the momentum meter lets us execute an attack known as "Smash". This attack, during which enemies can't deal damage, inflicts significant harm and occasionally allows us to fell formidable bosses in a single swoop. Sounds simple? Unfortunately, not quite. Fully charging the meter isn't as easy as it seems.

Atlas Fallen: Impressive graphics and functionality

The depiction of Atlas Fallen's landscape is rather impressive. Although it's mainly desert, there's a unique charm about it. The performance was surprising, given it's powered by the Fledge Engine as opposed to Unreal Engine 5. Performance doesn't sag noticeably even during high-octane fighting scenes, and the game doesn't even require DLSS 3.0.

The land of Atlas Fallen is much more than just sand; it consists of enormous structures and peaks that you can climb. Mostly the initial land features in the screenshots, but the game covers four different lands in total. To avoid revealing too much and spoiling your fun, I have abstained from posting screenshots from successive maps.

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[1/7] Atlas FallenImages source: ©

Atlas Fallen: What kind of game is it exactly?

It's challenging to pin down the exact source of inspiration for the game developers. Starting with the engine, Deck13 employed its proprietary Fledge Engine, which underwent an evolution in The Surge series. It's clear that Atlas Fallen has its own identity and is not a rehash of existing games. Sometimes the combat system reminded me of the Darksiders series and Kingdoms of Amalur: Reckoning. The game's ambiance is also similar to both these games.

Without a doubt, Atlas Fallen is an action game, an action RPG, and an action adventure. These three tags best encapsulate its core. It's all about the action. If you're hunting for a game with an intriguing story, character development, romances, and drawn-out dialogues, you might want to look elsewhere.

Atlas Fallen on Steam Deck: Does it work? Dagmara's take

As of now, the game's card on Steam omits information on whether it's compatible with Steam Deck. If you're wondering about this, I'm happy to report that Atlas Fallen can definitely run on the Valve device. They've put effort into configuring it for the official controller, which is set to default, so you won't have to do any dauntless guesswork here. The default layout is pretty straightforward: the left stick moves the character, and the right one (or the right trackpad, if you prefer) controls the camera.

On the Steam Deck, such visual elements of Atlas Fallen as texture quality and shadows are set to low by default. And the game starts to shine visually at medium settings. And yes, you can also play on medium settings maintaining 60 FPS. However, during intense moments, the fluidity tends to dip. Currently, it seems like the compatibility will officially be defined as "Playable" for the Steam Deck. That's not bad at all.

"Cursed repetitiveness" curses Atlas Fallen

Despite it's promising start, as the game progressed I uncovered some flaws in Atlas Fallen. The variety of enemies stagnates over time. You're constantly fighting two types of small demons and a handful of larger ones. Learning their attack patterns is a cinch, which eventually makes the combat feel monotonous.

This sense of repetitiveness extends to the music, sound effects, and the world itself. Each following map is hardly distinguishable from the last. The redundant music eventually drove me to switch it off. Meanwhile, the side quests, though worth undertaking for their valuable rewards—including essence for upgrading your gauntlet and unlocking more stones—mostly involve go-kill-return cycle.

To summarize: Atlas Fallen can be exceptionally engaging, but it won't last long. This game is quite brief and mainly revolves around boss fights. The game developers certainly have scope for refinement here and I hope they decide to shepherd more resources into its continued development. As of now, it's simply adequate, but it has the potential to be outstanding.

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