Since the days of Wasteland and Fallout, fans of post-apocalyptic wastelands have longed for a new addition to the genre that is even worthy of being mentioned in the same discussion as the masters. Some titles such as Fallout 3, Wasteland 2, and UnderRail have tried with varying degrees of success, but none have been able to properly recapture the same radioactive magic of their elders. That is until now. Beginning life as a Kickstarter project, ATOM RPG is an isometric RPG developed and published by AtomTeam with the sole intention of recreating that sense of wonder and fulfillment that RPG fans haven't experienced since the days of Fallout 2 and Baldur's Gate.
What I love, perhaps, the most so far is the story. Despite the main quest tasking you to investigate a conspiracy that threatens all remaining life on Earth, it's entirely up to you if you even want to go about that. You are not "the chosen one." You are not a fabled hero tasked with saving the people of the wasteland. You are a survivor. Plain and simple. Your goal is to survive. How you choose to do that is up to. Yet, despite all that, if you wish to choose to play as some kind of messiah, you can. Your story is your own. How you want to leave your mark on the wasteland is up to you.
The setting itself is also quite interesting. Instead of the cliche post-nuclear remnants of the United States, ATOM RPG is set in an alternate version of the Soviet Union circa 1986 where both sides of the Cold War settled their differences through a mutual nuclear holocaust. While a post-apocalyptic Russia setting isn't exactly new for a video game, it's still a nice change of pace from the good ol' US of A.
As of writing this review (11/28/17), there are currently over 20 quests in the early access build of ATOM RPG which will take anywhere from 8 or 9 hours to complete. AtomTeam plan on adding much, much more for the final release.
Anyone even remotely interested in ATOM RPG has spent some time with Fallout 1 and 2, and fans of the original Fallouts will find that almost everything, in terms of gameplay, has been either lovingly recreated or painstakingly improved upon; even down to the nearly identical HUD. Turn based combat is very much an acquired taste. It's difficult for people nowadays to come from Fallout 4's borderline Borderlands gameplay to an isometric turn based action game, and there's nothing wrong with that. You just have to know what you're in for. Enemy encounters are just as tactically challenging as they were in Fallout 2. You have to weigh your options against each other due to a limited number of action points per turn. For example, you could attempt to kill a bandit nearest to you, but risk being attacked by his buddies, or you could take cover and wait for an opportunity to take out any bandits in your vicinity, but they may run to cover as well.
If you have a basic understanding of turn based combat, you don't need me to explain ATOM RPG's gameplay to you; you'll do just fine.
Either in 1988 or 2017, graphics have always been the least important aspect of any RPG. The same can be said for ATOM RPG. While the visuals aren't exactly photorealistic, the graphics are serviceable and lend themselves to the authenticity of the Soviet Wasteland. The best part of this, of course, is that if you don't have the shiniest new GPU or CPU, you can still probably run ATOM RPG at 60fps. If you can run Fallout 1 and 2, you can run ATOM RPG.
It's difficult to criticize an early access game because any problems that are observed by the community will more than likely be remedied in future updates. The few issues I did fine are hardly worth mentioning. For instance, you can see the edges of locations you're in as plain grey textures and once you find an AK47, you become a walking god of death. The former can be fixed by simply adding a desert texture overlayed with a green light indicating that you are about to be transported to the map screen to walk to another location, and the latter can be fixed with a balancing patch. Other than that, ATOM RPG is one of, if not the most, stable early access game I've played.
Even in its current early access state, ATOM RPG is a love letter to the fans of the original Fallout games and is, without a doubt, worthy of your time. With a couple of patches to fix simple issues and the future release of the rest of the promised content, ATOM RPG is a great throwback experience for a reasonable price. ATOM RPG is the post-apocalyptic RPG fans have been waiting over 20 years for.
This review will be updated and added upon as updates are applied over time.