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ATOM RPG

January 24, 2019

The trailer videos gave me the clear impression that ATOM RPG is an indie clone of early Fallout games. What seemed odd is the fact that the authors didn’t try to conceal it, and they even mocked a few of the Fallout cliches. I am a big fan of Fallout series, so I’ve decided to give this game a try, and I wasn’t disappointed.

Table of Contents

Graphics

The first two games of the Fallout series are pretty old. I doubt it’s even possible to run them on a modern PC without some kind of emulator and even if you manage to run them somehow, the original graphics would look terrible since we’ve got used to higher screen resolutions and better graphics in general. I wouldn’t be happy if the authors of ATOM RPG were to clone the graphical part of the original Fallout experience. Luckily for me, the authors decided to use modern 3D graphics. Here is the screenshot of the main menu scene:

Main menu

It looks pretty good, especially for an indie game.

Gameplay

The gameplay is very close to the early Fallout games. I believe this is intentional, why change things that work perfectly? There is a huge debate on whether Fallout 3 and Fallout 4 are “true” Fallouts, and it’s more than justified. First, most of the game designers consider themselves artists. It’s not the best idea to tell an artist that he should make an exact clone of another artist’s masterpiece and that adding a lot of new stuff will only make the product worse. The artists tend to have their own ideas. They usually try to express themselves when working on the sequels to the old games, which often causes negative reaction from the old school fans of the game franchises.

I like Fallout 4, but I also think it has almost nothing in common with Fallout and Fallout 2 in terms of gameplay. We don’t have any 3D games which copy the good old 2D Fallout experience. ATOM RPG finally brings 3D to the old Fallout gameplay, and it does not feel like a radically different game. It feels more like an extension of the original Fallout world.

Role System

The role system is very close to the original Fallout character system called SPECIAL. You can also pick some “prior conditions” when creating a new character, and those choices can make each character and game style unique in many ways. The skill system is the same as in Fallout and Fallout 2. You get an amount of skill points with each new level, and you can allocate those points among many skills ranging from pistol handling to speech craft, survival, and science.

Skills window

What Makes This Game Unique?

Despite many similarities with the old Fallout games, ATOM RPG does have a lot of unique features. The thing is, the game authors are from ex-USSR countries and probably that’s why the game is geographically based in the post-nuclear Soviet Union. This changes the game aesthetics in many ways: the buildings and cars look very different from what you can see in the Fallout games. The same can be said about the NPCs that populate the game world. In fact, there are many cultural references that might be hard to understand for a person who is not familiar with the Soviet and post Soviet culture. Let’s take the encounters with scavengers on the world map:

Dangerous encounter

This scene depicts squatting men and one of them wears a newsboy cap. It probably doesn’t have any meaning for a Western or an Asian person but any person from the ex-USSR countries knows that those men are “gopniks”: members of a low-life social group that makes a living from petty crimes.

All of that entourage makes ATOM RPG feel like a Slavic Fallout. The Slavic part can feel odd for the western Fallout fans, but I don’t think it’s a negative thing: 100% clones are boring and this game feels like 75% Fallout with 25% of weird and original elements that fit surprisingly well in the Fallout-like gameplay.

Conclusion

ATOM RPG is a great game that has taken the best parts of the early Fallout games and put them in a 3D space. This game also features a lot of dialogs filled with dark humor, just like the Fallout games. I’ve played this game for more than 50 hours, and I really enjoyed it. I was also surprised that the game developers keep improving the game after they released it so it keeps getting better and better. Honestly, I have no idea how the game devs managed to finish a game of such a scale given the size of their team. ATOM RPG doesn’t feel like a low budget indie game, and I hope that they’ll make a sequel.

Update: They did.