Atomicrops is a game that has intrigued me since it was announced. Just look at this description from the game’s own site.
Atomicrops is an action roguelite farming simulator. Cultivate ultra-GMO crops, scavenge the wastelands of the post apocalypse, recruit a herd of helpful farm animals and maybe even find love all while battling with swarms of mutated beasts to defend your farm; the last farm on Earth.
I didn’t know what to actually expect. Maybe something like Stardew Valley with a different skin and some extra combat thrown in for good measure? No not at all, as Bird Bath Games have created something that despite borrowing many established ideas feel wonderfully unique.
My main worry came from being unable to manage all of the elements of the game at once. I had concerns that micro-managing a farm as you do in other games would take away from combat or I’d miss vital things as at get bogged down in other areas.
So what a relief it was to play Atomicrops for the first time and have all those worries alleviated nigh on instantly. The first time the game is booted you are taken through a super short tutorial that explains the main gameplay loop. Find seeds, prepare soil, plant water, fertalize and harvest. All done with a minimal amount of controls. Also, getting walked through how to use combat to protect those crops before moving on to the main game.
Within 5 minutes I knew I was in for a treat. This was further show with how Atomicrops breaks things up. The loop you are taught in the opening is separate to the management side of things which allowed for me to concentrate on each thing and not ignore or forget the others. In the hub world of sorts, you use the money you make to get the usual upgrades and new skills / equipment, but also use this to build relationships and eventually get married and gain perks from that.
I won’t go into details on what you can get here as it is really worth discovering for yourself. Admittedly you won’t spend much time here doing much at all, but it is a welcome break from the all action of the main part of the game.
Essentially you travel to your farm on a daily basis to plant and harvest crops. To get seeds to plant you need to explore and battle variius enemies to gather the resources needed. Use those to plant seeds. You’ll start with a tiny area but soon build that up. The thing that makes it work well here is that each day is timed so you need to be working at a pace. When you reach a certain time your focus shifts from farming, to protecting your crops. All kinds of mutants will descend on your crops and the game turns into a twin-stick shooter.
Now this particular part doesn’t feel as great as a game dedicated to twin-stick shooter mechanics, but it is spot on for how Atomicrops works and fits well. I didn’t feel I was fighting the controls and never once felt the game could be blamed for any failings.
There are going to be a lot of failings too. Yes, Atomicrops is another roguelite, but yet another recent release that uses the concepts of a roguelite to enhance its game and build something unique. Early games saw my runs ending pretty sharpish and despite getting better at the game I still mess up more often than not.
That doesn’t matter though as the main gameplay loop is so satisfying and everything is so smooth and snappy. I was going from death to starting again within a few seconds. Which in a game that has you dying and starting again on a regular basis, that becomes vital.
There was an assumption on my part that certain elements of Atomicrops would grate on me before too long. The setting of a cartoony style apocalyptic wasteland lends itself well to a more humorous feel. All the humour is done in a subtle way. It isn’t hidden of course, but Atomicrops never shouts at you that it is trying to be funny. In a roguelite that would become annoying fast so well done to the devs for holding back there.
Raw Fury have slowly been showing themselves as a damn fine publisher, with a number of titles that have been enjoyable but not earth shattering. Out There, Mosaic, Dandara and the likes are all excellent but maybe not as popular as they could be. Atomicrops though will be a landmark title for them and really put them on the map. It ticks almost every box and any negatives are nit-picky at best. They are going to be up there with Devolver, Curve and Team17 and this could be the title that catapults them there.
I could pick up that Atomicrops is never the best in class at any one thing. You could take any part of the game and find another game that does it better. However it is the epitome of the saying ‘Sum of its parts’, because at no point did I ever thing that I could be having a better time playing another game dedicated to one of the mechanics.
This comes from Atomicrops being really well crafted and clearly being made with love by a team that wanted to put out the best game possible and not cutting any corners to just get something out there. This is evident to me, because I am rubbish at the game, yet I am still really enjoying it. I think the last time I really felt like that was with Spelunky. A game I loved but very rarely got past the first main area. This is the same.
At £13.49 in the UK some might have that initial thought that as an Indie, it should somehow be cheaper, but there is so much value to be had here. You’ll spend hours upon hours in the wasteland over the course of many months that you just cannot see anything but value from it.
How good is Atomicrops? Well I am now ready to step back from Animal Crossing to make room for this in my regular rotation. Make of that what you will.