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Atlas Fallen Review

I will bow no longer

Atlas Fallen is an exciting action role-playing game created by Deck13 Interactive and published by Focus Entertainment. You’ll enter a timeless land filled with ancient dangers, mysteries, and remnants of the past. Engage in thrilling, super-powered combat as you track and hunt legendary monsters with your shape-shifting weapons and sand-powered abilities. You can collect the essence of your enemies to create a unique playstyle and shape a new era for humanity in a fully cooperative or solo story campaign. Despite a few minor issues, Atlas Fallen is poised to be this year’s sleeper hit.

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The Story

Intro Scene Atlas Fallen

Image: PC Invasion

Atlas Fallen is set in a devastated sand-covered world ruled by a merciless sun god called Thelos. As the protagonist, you take on the role of an Unnamed member, a group of people enslaved by humans for Thelos, who demands a neverending supply of Essence. By chance, you discover an ancient Gauntlet that gives you unmatched power over the sand that has kept you captive for so long. With Nyaal’s help (the voice from the gauntlet that helps you in your journey), will you be able to rise above your situation and liberate humanity from the clutches of Thelos?

I wasn’t impressed with the plot of Atlas Fallen, which felt unoriginal and lacking in unique qualities. Supporting characters were also bothersome during dialogue scenes and I almost didn’t care about saving them from Thelos. The only positive aspect of the story, and its characters, was the entertaining exchanges between the main character and Hyaal. As a result, I became emotionally invested in their well-being and survival. Even though I spent too much time searching for collectibles, which made it hard to balance the story, the main quests can be finished in a surprisingly short 15 hours. However, the game’s length was extended through its world combat, finding collectibles, and solving world puzzles, where Atlas Fallen is successful.

The Combat

Tailguarder Atlas Fallen

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In Atlas Fallen, the combat aspect of the game is truly exceptional. The game provides players with numerous mechanics, creating an immersive and highly customizable experience. Despite having access to only three weapons, Deck13 did an outstanding job of integrating them seamlessly into the gameplay. The Dunecleaver, for instance, offers eight unique button combinations, each with advantages depending on the player’s position in the battle. Whether you are initiating the fight or dodging an enemy’s attack, the game provides a range of options. For example, players can begin the battle with a Sand Slide, followed by a powerful X button attack, and finish it off with a four-hit combo. The various mechanics allow players to control their combat experience completely.

In addition to your three weapons, you can also equip your gauntlet with passive and active Essence Stones at three different levels. The Active Essence Stones allow you to perform special abilities once you reach a certain level of Momentum, which you earn by fighting enemies or using other abilities that generate it. These abilities can include powerful attacks, healing spells, or defensive spells. You can also use the ultimate ability, the Shatter, to deal a final blow to a challenging boss. The Shatter’s strength increases based on your current Momentum level when you use it.

As an action RPG, you must be agile in dodging, blocking, and parrying incoming attacks while seamlessly switching between air and land combat. In a recent game, Remnant 2, I found the mechanics frustrating when completing these tasks and avoided them at all costs. However, with Atlas Fallen, it’s a different story. The parry and dodge functions are practical and feel natural, making it incredibly fun to use. This success in mechanics made me want to use the Essence Stones that required me to perform these moves because I felt confident in their ability to work correctly when I needed them most.

Character Leveling

Armour Screen Atlas Fallen

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In Atlas Fallen, leveling up your character follows a unique approach. Unlike most games, your character’s strength doesn’t increase through a traditional experience system. Instead, you can enhance your character’s power by upgrading your armor and equipping your gauntlet with Essence Stones. To improve your armor, you must collect Essence Dust by defeating enemies and completing quests. After you upgrade one piece of armor, you will receive a Perk Token, which you can use to purchase a new Perk. There are twelve Perks, and they work in conjunction with Essence Stones. For example, the Deck Builder Perk gives an extra effect when you equip five Essence Stones of the same category. If you equip five Damage Essence Stones, you will benefit from an additional effect that increases your overall damage from all sources. Once you unlock your desired Perks, you can upgrade them twice to make them even more powerful.

There may appear to be a constraint to leveling your character this way, but I like that the protagonist is nothing without the power of the ancient gauntlet. Still, you can create numerous combinations and builds depending on whether you play solo or co-op, which bosses you face, or your play style. To upgrade Essence Stones, you will need Fusion Materials, which can be found easily by pinpointing their locations on your map. Moreover, there is no penalty for resetting your Perks, so you can switch them up whenever you want based on your current Essence Stones and weapons. I thought this was a very refreshing change of pace from recent games I’ve played, and I found I could genuinely enjoy building my character for fun instead of min-maxing my character to death.

Traversal Mechanics and Level Design

Sand Slide Atlas Fallen

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I was very impressed with the level design and traversal mechanics in Atlas Fallen, particularly how freeing and enjoyable they were. Most of the game takes place in the desert, so a Sand Slide traversal ability is provided for a quick and fun way to travel around the map. However, it soon becomes clear that the Sand Slide can also be utilized for combat and other aspects of the game. A dash ability is also available, which can be upgraded to three charges. I have never experienced such a satisfying dash mechanic before, and it is frequently used for exploration in the various levels of the game due to its well-designed layouts.

Even though Atlas Fallen is set in a desert, it’s not just a vast expanse of sand. Numerous ruins, caves, buildings, and rock formations provide a challenge for your platforming skills with the help of mechanics like the Sand Slide and Dash. The levels are surprisingly large, as I discovered while searching for collectibles. I stumbled upon a whole section of a level I missed during my first playthrough, which required a series of jumping puzzles, climbing, and dashing to access. To my surprise, I found some of the collectibles I was looking for and a few I didn’t even know I was missing.

PC and Steam Deck Performance

Atlas Fallen On Steam Deck

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The minimum PC system requirements include Windows 10 64-bit, Intel Core i5-6600k or AMD Ryzen 3 1200, and GTX 1050 Ti or the RX 470. You can achieve 30 FPS in 1920×1080 with the “Low” preset (Vulkan API). The recommended PC system requirements include Windows 10 64-bit, Intel Core i7-9800x or AMD Ryzen 5 3600, GeForce GTX 1070 TI, or the RX 5700. Using the Vulkan API, you can achieve 60 FPS in 1920×1080 with the “Very High” preset.

Although the minimum requirements are almost eight years old and the recommended requirements are almost six years old, I still faced challenges while attempting to reach 60 FPS. I use a midrange Lenovo gaming laptop with an AMD Ryzen 5 6600H and GeForce RTX 3050. Although my CPU is slightly better and my GPU is barely below the recommended settings, I played on Vulkan API with the Very High setting capped at 30 FPS (and a stable 50 FPS on High). Still, this didn’t detract from my experience because I always prioritize visuals over higher framerates when playing open-world RPGs — I value visuals over FPS. In addition, I didn’t experience any input lag or issues while many enemies were on the screen, nor did I face any other performance issues that affected my playthroughs. Interestingly, switching to DirectX 12 resulted in worse overall performance.

I could only achieve a stable 20 FPS on Very High settings when I played Atlas Fallen on the Steam Deck. However, I didn’t experience any input lag when switching from PC to Steam Deck, despite losing about 10 FPS. But I did encounter some performance issues when there were many enemies on-screen. Therefore, I found High settings a sweet spot, which always gave me a stable 30 FPS. Even on High settings, Atlas Fallen still looked beautiful, and I had no input lag or issues. Additionally, I enjoyed playing Atlas Fallen more on my Steam Deck because it was easier to control my character and perform intricate combos using a controller scheme than a mouse and keyboard.

The Sounds and Sights of the Desert

Caladrias Atlas Fallen

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Regarding sound design, Atlas Fallen does not leave a lasting impression. The audio elements are not particularly memorable, and one can easily play the game while tuning out to other things. I only unmuted the game during cutscenes, although sometimes I relied on subtitles. There were only a few instances where this approach caused a problem, such as when an enemy attacked me unexpectedly from offscreen, and I didn’t hear it.

The setting for Atlas Fallen is mainly in the desert, which means you’ll see many brown, red, yellow, white, black, and green colors to reflect this. However, ruins, animals, and occasional breaks from the desert scenery keep the levels interesting. For example, exploring a sunken city within a complex cave system adds variety. While some levels may seem empty, there are enough unique elements to keep players engaged. While the graphics aren’t groundbreaking, I thought the world was beautiful and enjoyed exploring it. In addition, I loved the design of the different enemies, like the various Wraiths I was tasked with beating.

A Collect-a-thon’s Delight

Treasure Hunt Atlas Fallen

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If you enjoy collecting in-game items and striving for completion, Atlas Fallen is a game that won’t disappoint you. Each level contains various collectibles, such as Artefacts, Lore Items, and Essence Stone Formulas, for you to locate. Additionally, puzzles at each level require you to complete specific tasks. For example, the Sealing Totem puzzle necessitates activating a series of crystals within a specific time frame. This may appear easy, but each progressing crystal becomes increasingly challenging to reach, putting your traversal abilities to the test. Spending hours exploring each level in Atlas Fallen to find these collectibles was enjoyable because of the well-designed levels and fun traversal mechanics. I never felt burnt out or annoyed.

The Verdict

Atlas Fallen Screenshots Nologo 05

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While Atlas Fallen may not excel in its short, bland story and sound design, it more than compensates with its remarkable combat system, level construction, and traversal mechanics. Once you have mastered the controls, you can soar through the levels quickly and conquer foes with awe-inspiring combos. The customization possibilities are boundless, enabling you to establish your distinct play style. Additionally, Atlas Fallen encompasses a plethora of collectibles to discover and puzzles to solve, all of which contribute to an immersive gaming experience. Despite its potential to go unnoticed, Atlas Fallen is a true sleeper hit of the year that is not to be overlooked.

9
Atlas Fallen
Atlas Fallen may not have the most captivating storyline or impressive sound design, but it more than makes up for these shortcomings with its outstanding combat system, level design, and traversal mechanics. Fans of collect-a-thons will be pleased to know that Atlas Fallen offers plenty of hidden treasures to uncover, ensuring hours of gameplay. While it may be overlooked by some, Atlas Fallen is a true sleeper hit of the year that should not be missed by any gaming enthusiast. Overall, it's a must-play for those looking for a thrilling and action-packed gaming experience.

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Author
Matthew Kevin Mitchell
Matthew Kevin Mitchell has been a contributing writer for PC Invasion and Attack of the Fanboy since 2022. Matthew primarily covers Manga like One Piece, horror movies like Scream, and survival horror games like Dead by Daylight. His favorite moment came during his first press event covering Scream 6 for AotF. He hails from Denver, Colorado, where he received his Bachelor of Science in Information Technology from Regis University. When he isn’t scaring himself silly or writing, he loves to play ice hockey, spoil his dog, and drink an unhealthy amount of coffee.