Like all classic role-playing games, post-apocalyptic CRPGs seem to be more of a rare occurrence than in their heyday during the 1980s and 90s. As both first-person shooters and massively multiplayer online role-playing games (MMORPGs) became more popular, the classic style of top-down, turn-based (or pause-able real-time) titles seem to lose favor with the gaming masses. Oh well, gaming trends come and go, I guess (sigh).
But don’t tell that to Russian developer AtomTeam. Their post-apocalyptic CRPG, Atom RPG, was released back in December of 2018 but I’d never even heard of it until recently. That’s probably because they’re a smaller development team and so probably don’t have the marketing muscle of a double or triple-A game studio.
Right from the start, Atom RPG evokes vivid memories of CRPGs like the Fallout and Wasteland series of post-apocalyptic games. In this one, the culmination of the Cold War ended with a mutually devastating nuclear strike between East and West, resulting in the world becoming a desolate shell of what it once was.
You play as part of the ATOM team; elite Russian operatives whose mission is to find pre-war artifacts and restore the Soviet culture to its former “glory.” You get a certain amount of points to allocate to your stats as well as your basic skills. Unlike many CRPGs, the developers many took pains to ensure that Atom RPG has a vast array of character portraits to choose from; there must be well over one-hundred. You can also write a character’s background bio which is a really nice touch.
From there, you choose up to two Distinctions, which essentially function as special abilities. These can greatly boost your character’s stats and skills, but they also come with a negative side effect. Therefore, you should make sure that you have a specific character build in mind before choosing each Distinction.
The type of character that you create can fit many types of genre tropes, from a medical specialist who couldn’t hit the broadside of a barn with a gun, to an apex killer, ex-soldier who has virtually no personality to speak of. In other words, make sure of your choice because it will have many ramifications later on in the game.
The game begins with a handy tutorial which teaches you the basic mechanics. Then you start the game proper right outside the dusty town of Otradnoye. You’ll get to choose your first quests and will then put the skills you learned in the tutorial to good use. This is a mature-themed game, so there’s a lot of sexual content, drug use, and gratuitous violence. There are also many different shades of choices in-between just good and evil.
One of the things I really like about Atom RPG is that the world is truly a sandbox. With one character, a silver-tongued trader, I charmed people’s pants off and even earned a Pacifist Achievement. Another build I played as was a ruthless bandit who picked certain clever locales in order to waylay passing caravans and steal their cargo. Hell, since every NPC that you see in the game is actually in the game (no one is invulnerable) you can kill everyone in sight if you want to go the psychopathic route. Just be aware of the repercussions.
Like similar CRPGs, Atom RPG is played from an isometric perspective. Combat is turn-based and with its modern graphics, the game looks really good and plays very smoothly. The environments are particularly bleak and dismal, just as they should be in such a devastated world. You can even pick up companions here and there who will assist you on your quests.
One important thing that you should know is that this game has no level scaling. In other words, if you accidentally wander into an area that is a little too much for you to handle, prepare to get violated.
In all, Atom RPG is a very impressive post-apocalyptic love letter to the CRPGs of old, while still being unique enough to make its own mark. I highly recommend this game to anyone who likes sandbox adventure games and/or RPGs.
Atom RPG has some pretty decent looking graphics that make its post-apocalyptic gameplay truly shine. However, you want to have a pretty beefy gaming PC or gaming laptop in order to play it at a decent framerate. So, you may just want to invest in a decent gaming rig:
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