While I’m typically less than interested at the latest gamer outrage crisis – be that moral crisis, consumer crisis or whatever – I’ll admit that the screaming-and-raving hardcore crowd does have a point regarding at least one thing: fully multiplayer games are a rough idea in 2017. Entirely passable games can end up unplayable if they have a small playerbase that heads to greener pastures. Today, so many games come on on the regular that a game with only a multiplayer component might be in trouble – it’s got to compete with Playerunknown’s Battlegrounds, Overwatch, DOTA2 and more, after all. That’s the problem we run into with Atomega, a fantastic game that slipped in under the radar and now seems to have trouble getting traction.
If you’ve played the classic browser game agar.io you’ve already got a pretty decent idea of how Atomega works. At the start of each match, characters control a single cell rolling around the map searching for mass cubes. Upon picking up a cube, the cell becomes armed and can shoot a piddly little laser. A few more cubes will upgrade the cell into a protozoan, enhancing speed and the laser’s damage. More still will upgrade the player to a dinosaur form, even more will lead to a humanoid and finally the player will end up as a giant humanoid; the respective changes in size here will cut the player off from some smaller pathways which can be useful for players lower on the food chain as escape routes. Along with mass, it’s also possible to find and use hacks that serve as powerups such as boosted damage and mass magnetism. There’s only the one map, so learning where everything is and how to grab it efficiently is a key skill.
As mentioned, players are armed after picking up a single mass cube, so Atomega is a shooter at its core. Blasting away at enemies will destroy them, leaving their accumulated mass free for the taking; players on defense can either hide to regenerate HP or teleport away at the cost of one stage of evolution. Victory is all about survival of the fittest and taking down potential threats to your mass collection efforts, since you gain more points per mass cube as a higher form of life. If a player reaches the giant humanoid phase and continues to collect mass, they’ll eventually evolve into Omega form, a demonic being that floats around scorching players and sucking up mass with a giant laser. Omega form is temporary, though it can be marginally extended through successful murder and mass collection, and a player who runs out of Omega time will be reverted back to their original single celled form. That might sound detrimental, but Omega form accumulates tons of points so that player will likely have jumped up several ranks in the scoreboard.
Atomega aims for a simple, blocky graphical style that makes it easy to tell what’s going on and also ensures that the game runs well on lower-end hardware. Control-wise everything is snappy and precise; as your character evolves they become more cumbersome, but that’s to be expected and your more powerful weapons more than make up for this if you play aggressively. Playing will help you level up in a standard progression system that results in new cosmetic features for your cell and forms.
It’s a fun concept that works great, all in all, and my only real complaint, as you might expect, is that the game is criminally underpopulated. I wasn’t once able to enter a fully populated match even with drop-in-drop-out functionality. That’s a shame, especially given the game’s entirely reasonable price and fully realized vision of asymmetrical fps action. I suppose we can expect to see Atomega popping up in a bundle at some point if it’s unable to draw a strong player base which might help revitalize the community a bit. At the moment, though, it’s easy to recommend if you can get a few friends to join you, ensuring you’ve got folks to play with.