I didn't expect to enjoy Atlas Fallen as much as I did. Featuring a VERY enjoyable set of traversal mechanics and a vibe (and mechanics) akin to many games in the Xbox 360 generation, Atlas Fallen hit the mark for me. Our Atlas Fallen Review continues below!
Normally, you'd think likening a game in 2023 to the ones in the Xbox 360 generation would be a negative comment, right?
In the case of Atlas Fallen, it isn't, and from the start to the end of the game the influences of works that came before could really be seen. What stood out to me, was an open world that wasn't exhausting, combat that felt like a mix of Monster Hunter and Horizon Zero Dawn, and gear augmentation that never wore out its welcome.
Also, you can surf the sand - so that's pretty cool too.
The Atlas Fallen story isn't anything exceptionally unique, but it does a good job of keeping you engaged throughout.
It's your standard standard "normal person must defeat a god with the help of a magical gauntlet" that takes you on a perfect-length adventure across a world that's slowly dying because the ruling god Thelos demands that the people mine essence for his purposes. Everyone loves taking down a malevolent god, right?
As the "Gauntlet Bearer" you'll make your way across Atlas, recovering memories of Nyall as you find Anvils and learn more about him and the world around you through his sporadic commentary throughout, and meet a number of characters that will play a part both big and small.
Personally, I felt this was an impactful way of telling the story of Nyall and Thelos. Slowly filling you in on details, coupled with Journal entries scattered throughout each region that played audio if they had a strong impact on the story or world-building, ensured that there wasn't too much silence, but also not excessive commentary.
The story isn't what kept me playing as much as I did, though - the movement and combat in Atlas Fallen is what makes exploring this world so much fun.
Early on in the game, you'll learn that with the powers of the gauntlet, you can manipulate the sand around you to your benefit to parry, lift structures, and "surf" the sand to make your way around quickly along with your gauntlet abilities.
The key aspect of progression in Atlas Fallen isn't tied to levels or stats, but your armor and the gauntlet that you'll rebuild as you find the pieces that have scattered across Atlas. As you defeat enemies, you'll obtain essence to improve your armor and not only create but improve Essence Shards to improve your combat ability.
There are 10 different armor sets in Atlas Fallen, which doesn't leave you with choice paralysis because as you equip newer and stronger armor, you can customize it as you wish, whether you just want to change the colors or transmogrify it to another set.
Similar to Souls Games, players can parry and have an Idol that lets them heal in combat, but your Momentum gauge is what gives you your power. As you fight, and land hits, it will grow - and so will your power, enhanced by Essence Stones.
There are no classes or expertise in Atlas Fallen.
The gauntlet, which lets you slot in 11 different Essence Stones, gives you a significant amount of choice as to how you want to play, and what abilities you can wield in combat. As you defeat enemies, you'll be able to make it more powerful alongside new armor - that's how you "level up" and progress.
You'll only start with a few, but over time you can unlock more slots, which can be filled with the stones dropped by enemies and found in Formulas, and they only get more powerful as you make your way through the game. This feels extremely natural, and I never felt I was limited or needed to grind to increase my power.
As for the stones - you can focus on your ability to heal if, like me, you kinda suck at parrying. Or, if you want to deal massive damage with your shatter ability when your Momentum gauge is full - there's an ability that increases Shatter's damage at full Momentum. If your style is more of a tank, and you're playing co-op with a friend - you can even focus only on defensive abilities.
Once combat starts, that's when things get really exciting, and that's where my Horizon Zero Dawn reference comes in. Rather than a bow, you'll be tearing pieces off using your melee abilities.
Smaller enemies are (mostly) easily taken down in a few hits and are great at building up Momentum, but the larger enemies and bosses require you to actually destroy pieces of them in order to win the encounter. Some have one or two pieces, others five or six, and deadly abilities that don't make hitting them quite that simple.
In most games, a parry simply stops the attack and maybe slightly staggers. What I really enjoy about the parry in Atlas Fallen is that after 3-4 successful parries in a short period, you'll actually freeze your enemies. This gives you a chance to land some additional hits to damage and build Momentum, as well as a brief respite to heal if you need it.
The combination of acrobatics, flashy abilities, and satisfying parry makes combat so exciting and satisfying. In most games, I dread getting into combat because I'd rather be exploring or something, but in Atlas Fallen, fights aren't something I avoid.
Atlas Fallen Review - Worth Playing?
I have no doubt Atlas Fallen may fail to connect with some, but it was an experience I couldn't pull away from. The feeling of nostalgia, combined with exploration that greatly rewards you, and a combat system that never gets old by smashing Wraiths with a giant hammer, really keep me engaged and coming back more and more. So, if you'll excuse me, I'll bump up the difficulty and play it again.
Atlas Fallen was reviewed on PC with a copy provided by the publisher over the course of 29 hours of gameplay - all screenshots were taken during the process of review.
- Movement abilities that don't make exploration boring
- An Open World that doesn't fatigue
- Smooth progression without levels
- Combat is exciting and never gets boring
- Story isn't anything unique
- Slight bugs that can frustrate during combat