ATOM RPG: The Return of Old-School Apocalyptic Gaming

Customization, inventory overload, and death-defying foes — ATOM RPG has it all in spades

For our last game review, we looked at a game where man and beast fought against one another in a team deathmatch style. This time we’re diving into the beloved, but oft maligned, RPG genre.

First, I must admit that I like exploring post-apocalyptic wastelands. Short of labeling myself a Dark Tourist and taking a trip to Chernobyl (seriously, it’s a thing), I relegate my apocalyptic explorations to the realm of video games. Luckily, I got the chance to play ATOM RPG and sate my desire for desolate “end-of-days” environs.

RPGs tend to emphasize certain mechanics, but ATOM RPG really nailed these three aspects of the game:

  • Customization

Be forewarned. While I have yet to beat ATOM RPG, I have played long enough to have confidence in these opinions. And again, while the game remains tantalizingly unbeaten, minor spoilers lay ahead. Tread with caution.

Guns don’t always solve your problems in ATOM RPG, but they sure do help.

ATOM RPG’s Onslaught of Customization Options

ATOM RPG throws a multitude of customization options at you. Everything from skill-sets, perks, attributes and even an amusing caricature for your portrait. Like any solid RPG, each choice made when creating your character will affect gameplay down the road.

Maybe being the suave, charming guy is your thing, so you’ll choose perks like:

  • Diplomat

Problem solving with combat may be more up your alley, so you’d pick perks like:

  • Black Belt
Fans of Fallout, Skyrim, and Other Classic RPGs should be able to navigate the character menu with ease.

The overall attribute stats affect your skill sets, and the perks you choose substantially increase one ability while decreasing another, so us min-maxers will be challenged.

This wide array of customization options in ATOM RPG appeals to me as a fan of immersive gameplay. The game does an excellent job of explaining what each skill does and how they’ll affect your character long-term. This lets you flesh out what kind of character you want to play as, and ultimately gives you a stronger sense of attachment to them as personalities.

For my character, I chose theperks aptly named “child prodigy” and “diplomat,” in the hopes of finally giving my parents the smart and social kid they’ve always wanted.

Force of Personality carries the day again — so long as you have the stats to back it up.

An Arachnid Hootenanny Showdown: AKA Combat

Fighting is not my strong suit. ATOM RPG’s style of combat was unfamiliar, and I foolishly skipped the tutorial, grossly overestimating my chances of survival against puny spiders. After a mild learning curve and some sporadic clicks, I was successful in bashing the beasts with a brick and relentlessly stalked my next arachnid prey.

This is for all those cobwebs in my house, you bastards.

Unfortunately, combat is iffy, and perhaps the most difficult part of the game. Hits that look as though they should have landed end up missing. Remember the spiders I mentioned earlier? Our rounds of combat resembled a two-step in the beginning, rather than a fight (reenactment found here).

Over time though, combat became second nature. After engaging in and winning several encounters, my two-step became the cha-cha, and I swapped my brick for a handmade shiv. Soon enough I was the scourge of every bug and low level enemy in the entire wasteland.

ATOM RPG has no shortage of enemies that want you dead. Great, right? Combat could take time to get used to, but the game does an excellent job in providing you many opportunities to practice, as long as you’re willing.

Look, I’m sorry about what happened to your family… and my shiv is about to break.

ATOM RPG’s Story Philosophy: Character Before Plot

Hardcore advocates of RPGs may disagree, but my returning to play (or even replay) a game heavily depends on plot.

If a game is based around a story I have no interest in, why bother? Interesting plots are tricky to achieve. You don’t want the story to stretch out for too long or be full of fetch quests and other generic objectives, but rather challenging and well-paced so the player feels fulfilled.

Doses of satisfaction were aplenty in ATOM RPG’s storytelling narrative. As the plot thickened, I became attached to my character and the various NPC’s.

Time only felt wasted when I was between quests, looking for opportunities to explore or take on a task. Making progress within a game is a crucial. Each time ATOM RPG was booted up, I chipped away at every objective the game threw at me, steadily advancing through.

Should You Play ATOM RPG? Salad Says: YES.

Now — despite my praise, I did run into a few problems that potential buyers should be aware of:

  • Game crashes

The camera constantly moves during the game. My cursor moving even slightly would launch the camera in that direction, and I spent too much time trying to relocate my character.

On top of that, the game crashed often. I’d play for a few minutes and then boom, kicked right to the desktop. The crashes were infrequent, but caused enough annoyance to be an issue.

Despite my concerns, I’d suggest ATOM RPG to anyone who enjoys a well made RPG with lots of customization and gameplay, especially fans of the original Fallout or Wasteland.

The game’s sheer expanse and the small team behind it makes it all that more impressive. After several hours, I could tell how much love and passion the game developers poured into it. For the price of $14.99 on Steam, and the amount of replay value, this game is absolutely worth purchasing.

By Brandon Tepner

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