Atlas Fallen Preview "A Promising New Adventure"

Atlas Fallen Preview "A Promising New Adventure"
Images via Deck13

Written by 

Dave McAdam


17th Mar 2023 14:01

When the gods abandon us, we must take matters into our own hands. Such is the basic premise of Atlas Fallen, a new action RPG from Deck13. The developer, known for The Surge 1 and 2 and some work on Lords of the Fallen, steps in another direction with this new game. Atlas Fallen was not quite what I expected, mostly for the better.

In many previews of the game I have seen, some direct comparisons have been thrown around. The history of the developer might inspire you to think souls-like, while others have compared the game to Monster Hunter or Nier Automata. Maybe the most refreshing thing about what I have played of Atlas Fallen is that it does not require much direct comparison at all.

Classic action

Atlas Fallen Preview: The main character wielding a glowing sword
Click to enlarge

Atlas Fallen is an action RPG, largely agnostic of any particular influence. The combat is fast and fluid, you have a momentum meter that builds as you fight and changes what you can do in interesting ways. You collect resources, and new gear, you level up and improve your character. You have a solid double jump and air dash that will take you almost anywhere you want to go. Getting around is quick, thanks to your character's ability to skate along the sand.

No game is wholly original and without some inspiration, but in an age where many games try and fail to repeat the same few formulae, Atlas Fallen stands out for simply trying to be a good action game. It does this primarily with solid combat mechanics. Your character wields the Gauntlet, a magical item imbued with power and the soul of an amnesiac entity. The Gauntlet allows you to manipulate the sands into weapons, which you conjure to fight Wraiths. Wraiths are the monsters of the world, a parting gift from a malicious deity.

You fight with two weapons at a time, a button dedicated to each, and can freely flow between the two. In the preview, we got access to two weapons; a fast, whip-like sword that hits enemies in an area, and a pair of massive axes which do huge damage to a single enemy. Combining the two with Atlas Fallen's impressive freedom of movement made combat a joy, a foundation that the full game can only expand upon.

More risk, more reward

Atlas Fallen Preview: The man character sliding down a hill of sand
Click to enlarge

The momentum meter influences combat in a unique way. The meter builds up as you do damage to enemies. The higher it goes, the more damage you do, but also, the more damage you take. The meter has a second function, as it also serves as your ability meter.

The momentum meter is segmented, with three tiers and individual markers along the way. At each tier and marker, you can equip an Essence Stone. The three tiers allow you to equip active Essence Stones, which give you new attacks and abilities. The markers in between allow you to slot passive Stones, which grant buffs. Increasing your momentum meter to where each of these Essence Stones is placed activates its effect, or gives you access to its active ability.

As such, during combat, your meter is constantly going up, and your damage is increasing but so is the damage you take. What's more, you are gaining more buffs and access to more powerful abilities. This all adds up to a really interesting risk/reward system that at low levels is cool, but at a high level could be really game-changing.

Desert, but not deserted

Atlas Fallen Preview: A wide shot of the landscape, including a ruined structure and a bridge over a chasm
Click to enlarge

There is more to this game than sliding around the desert, smacking monsters with sand hammers. There is a world to explore, and while Atlas Fallen doesn't offer an open world, you do get open areas where you can stretch your legs a bit. There are a shocking number of people to talk to in the desert wasteland, similar in scope to something like Horizon Forbidden West. Many of these people can be talked to, and some will give you quests to carry out.

Dialogue is a bit hit-and-miss. Much of the voice acting is fairly serviceable, some of it is not, and some of it sounds like the first take of an actor doing lines for an early 00s Mortal Kombat story mode. It isn't all bad, but it isn't all good either. None of the voice work or dialogue in the preview was so awful that it took me out of the experience, but if this is an issue arising from English not being the native language of the developer, then it certainly shows. I will choose to believe that the German voice cast is probably excellent.

That aside, the world is very interesting. A story about a world abandoned by gods, only for an individual to take up arms against those gods is hard not to get excited for. The preview alone is not enough to comment much on that world, but I can certainly see the possibility of an intriguing plot.

An intriguing first look

Atlas Fallen Preview: A large Wraith monster
Click to enlarge

The game looks quite nice too. It can be difficult to make a desert look interesting, but the size and scope of this world caught me looking up and around rather than ahead more than once. My machine is getting up in years so I couldn't run the game quite as high as I would have liked, but from the handful of frames on Ultra that my PC could muster, it seemed the game was even more appealing to look at.

All in all, the fluid combat and interesting world easily outshone the rough edges that this game has. Something that we didn't get to see here but is very promising for the full release, is that the game includes full cooperative play. If you fancy the look of Atlas Fallen, it comes with the added benefit of being able to play it from start to finish with a friend. Atlas Fallen is shaping up to be a promising new adventure, maybe not groundbreaking, but certainly not derivative.

Those are our thoughts from our preview of Atlas Fallen. For more on the game, check out our rundown of Atlas Fallen release date, trailers, gameplay and more.