Atlas Fallen is an open world action RPG developed by Deck13 and published by Focus Entertainment. It was released for PC, PlayStation, and Xbox on August 10, 2023, and has been a heck of a lot of fun to play, though the review build had a few flaws that unsettled the experience. The combat and traversal mechanics are the highlights here, as is the detailed environments we get to explore. The main story is decent with some plot holes, but these are overlooked with heaps of optional side activities and a skill system that kept me engaged throughout my time in the game. You can also play in two-player co-op though I didn’t get to try this in the review period.
Set in a post-apocalyptic world where the gods have turned against humanity, we play as a nameless slave warrior who must rise from the dust and liberate mankind from their oppression. You will explore a vast desert world, battle powerful enemies, and master the art of sand-powered combat. There are also timed puzzles to solve, platforming sections and heaps of hidden artifacts and lore objects to collect along the way. This all revolves around a mythical gauntlet that harnesses the power of the gods, and the many ways you can customise its abilities in combat that created some thrilling, and some frustrating fights beasts known as wraiths.
Upon first opening the game though, the framerate for the game’s logos and menus was horrible. After I tweaked the graphics settings, I could at least move the mouse smoothly, but the menu background animations were still janky which made me worried for the main game’s performance. However, my concerns were put at ease once in-game as it performed amazingly, even in the wide-open spaces and in intense combat scenarios. At the time of writing this article and after the day one patch, the menu performance issues are still present so hopefully this gets sorted quickly. Otherwise, the game looked amazing, and combat was fluid.
The combat is fast-paced and challenging, and the game does well to guide you through learning how best to take on the various monster types you will face. You will slowly upgrade and discover three deadly weapons that you can switch between and enhance with three tiers of essence stones. These stones will unlock and then upgrade both active and passive skills that can be used to devastating effect. You can dodge, air dash and parry with sandskin which, if timed right, can freeze a small monster, or stun parts of larger ones creating some awesome and action-filled combat sequences.
As you fight, you will slowly gain momentum which allows you to use some of your skills as you build it up. You can jump into the air and then keep yourself up there fighting aerial monsters, then press F to do a powerful ground slam. Eventually you can unleash skills such as shatter which calls down a massive hammer to do some devastating damage to monsters. Some of your skills can help to build momentum faster at the cost of getting hit harder, while other skills might make shatter stronger, or allow you to gain more momentum after using it. I spent a lot of time in the first half of the game experimenting with different skills and bonuses until settling on a build that could handle almost any monster or elite boss thrown my way.
Early on in Atlas Fallen, you will learn how to sand-surf your way around the vast and beautiful world and it even works going up small sand dunes, but once you hit rock or obstacles you’re back to a run. Aside from fast travel, having the ability to glide along the sand between areas, especially as you discover knew areas for the first time, made exploration fast and exciting. You can hold down tab to go into focus mode and this highlights some key objective locations in the distance, and you can switch between active quests by pressing C depending on what you feel like accomplishing at the time.
Some side quests in Atlas Fallen were tied to the progression of the main quests, while other quests I couldn’t complete at the time so had to wait until I had upgraded my weapons and traversal abilities, such as a double air dash to be able to cross broken bridges. I died plenty of times attempting to jump these bridges and chasms as the world begs you to explore it. Thankfully, dying in those instances doesn’t set you back too far. Throughout the world you will come across glimmering sections of sand and by pressing V, you can raise whatever is hidden beneath the sand.
Usually, it’s a chest that could contain new essence stones, but more likely resources or artifacts that you can use to upgrade other skills or be sold at vendors spread throughout the world. You will also come across sealing totems which I dismissed at first as I didn’t realise what they were. Once you activate one of these, it will lead point to a second totem off in the distance. This starts a timed sequence that will connect together half a dozen or so totems and if successful, will reveal a treasure chest to unlock a new essence stone. At other times, these glimmering sections may reveal a block of land or stairs that can be raised (some of which require further upgrades to your gauntlet), or they may uncover an anvil which can replenish your health, upgrade your gauntlet and armour, and acts as a fast travel point.
There aren’t too many armour sets in the game, but each set looks awesome even though they are a one-piece outfit that can be upgraded. The aesthetics of armour sets was decent, and you can discover and purchase dyes to customise the colour scheme of each piece of armour which is great for those interested in altering your look. I was more focused on which upgraded set gave me better stats given I was more focused on trying to do more damage or build momentum more efficiently. As you complete quests in certain areas, travelling vendors will pop up on the map and some of these had new armours to purchase. I didn’t realise you could also sell items as I had a heap of artifacts in the game’s journal, and this netted me heaps of currency to buy map fragments and resources to upgrade my essence stones. There’s a fair number of things to do in the game if you’re willing to read into them.
The world of Atlas Fallen is vast and beautiful, with plenty of secrets to discover if you’re like me and need to unshroud every square inch of the map. What looked like cliffs or a cloudy area on the map could be an underground cavern system, or just a large overhanging cliff edge. As you defeat elite bosses and take down watchtowers, the fog will lift, and animal life returns in parts of the world. These animals can be observed from afar, but some will set off on a golden trail. If you manage to avoid spooking them, they will lead you to some treasure for you to collect. You can also collect fragments of treasure maps that lead you to discovering even more treasure chests. Every time I thought I was done exploring the map, there were more secrets I had missed previously.
Overall, Atlas Fallen is a fantastic action combat game that features epic fights, a heap of skill customisation and an awesome traversal mechanism in sand surfing. I enjoyed the game a lot more than I thought I would. There’s plenty to do in the game’s world if you’re willing to explore every corner. The side quests give you other things to focus on, but combat is certainly the centrepiece and it is fluid and action packed. If a strategy isn’t working, you can swap out some essence stones and try different tactics. I’d say this is a mix of Assassin’s Creed and Monster Hunter so it’s an easy recommend from me.