Summer’s coming to an end, but there’s still time for a trip to the beach! Pack your umbrella, a cooler full of your choice of beverage and get on out there. When you’re done, well…summer’s coming to an end, but there’s still time for video games! Maybe continue your sand-themed adventure with Atlas Fallen, an impressive open world sandpunk quest packed with grainy goodness that’s better than you might think.
In a sand-choked world reeling from a long-ago Cataclysm, legions of servants called the Unnamed toil in the name of the god Telos. The Unnamed live short, painful lives, regularly falling to the blades of their captors or the dangers of the desert. When one Unnamed discovers a powerful, magical Gauntlet, though, it offers the chance to take the world back from Telos – and the mysterious spirit living inside is there to help make it happen.
Atlas Fallen is an open-world explore-’em-up of the sort that have saturated the gaming landscape since the release of Breath of the Wild. The stuff you’ve come to expect from these games is here in spades – climbing, collecting goodies, completing sidequest by the crateload to level up, you probably know the deal by now. There’s not a lot in terms of content that you wouldn’t expect from these games, so if you’re over open worlds, you can probably safely pass.
If that’s not the case, though, you’ll be pleased to hear that Atlas Fallen handles these fundamentals well. In particular, movement is a delight. Your character’s sand-manipulating Gauntlet allows them to skate around on the surface of the desert, which is both satisfying mechanically and looks fantastic as the camera swings low to show off the sun-baked landscape before you. You can also hop around, air dash, clamber around on stuff, and it’s all got an enjoyable weight that’s lacking from many similar titles.
Combat’s also surprisingly polished for a game that seems a little lacking in ambition at first. The Gauntlet is also capable of creating weapons from sand, including a choppy axe/hammer combo, a whip-sword and some gloves for quick punching. You can use two of these at once, switching between them at will for combo attacks.
Moreover, successful hits build up a Momentum gauge. This has a few effects – at higher Momentum you both deal and take more damage, but you can also set up various buffs to activate at different sections of the gauge and also unleash powerful active skills by consuming Momentum. Carefully managing this gauge is vital to your success. If you’re too conservative with Momentum, you won’t be able to hit hard enough to win, but going too crazy means you’ve got a glass jaw in return.
It’s hard to complain too much about Atlas Fallen from a gameplay or a presentation perspective. Your customizable character has a variety of awesome-looking armor sets to choose from (with transmog included, of course, so you can wear whatever you think looks good rather than focusing wholly on stats) and the insectoid Wraiths you fight are impressive as well. Environment design is a plus and there’s plenty of cool things to see and do. The only real issue might be the voice acting, which is…well, iffy. Your spirit companion in particular is a mess and is also the character you’ll hear the most of, so be ready for some cringe.
Questionable voice acting aside, Atlas Fallen is a great example of a game taking a formulaic approach to adventure and doing it so well that it stands out regardless. Combat is great, exploring the world is a joy and, all in all, there’s way more polish here than might have been considered necessary. Atlas Fallen is a sunny good time, much like an afternoon at the beach, and you’re less likely to end up with sand-filled shorts afterward.