Review code graciously provided by Raw Fury. This will have no bearing on my review, opinion or recommendation. Rest assured, integrity is what Games With Toasty is all about.
Method Behind The Murder
Farming and life simulators have been growing in popularity with the likes of Harvest Moon, Animal Crossing and the indie darling, Stardew Valley. There is something endearing about the slow burning insanity you feel as you grind away at your day job, that can only be extinguished by sitting down and doing e-chores to the detriment of your actual household. “Just one more courgette” and suddenly you are calling in sick to work as you reap and sow to your hearts content. Now, what happens when you take the simple concept of turnip tending, and fuse it with a twin-stick, bullet hell roguelike using the power of nuclear molecular splicing? You get Atomicrops – an adventure about annihilating atomic atrocities and acquiring an assortment of agricultural amenities.
Of course you don’t start your life as some mutant murdering farmer. Instead you inherit your family farm and become a plain-jane farmer. During your merry jaunt around your new grounds, you make your way into a conveniently located nuclear shelter. Naturally the apocalypse comes and life as we know it, ceases to exist. Once all that commotion has died down, you climb out of your iddy-biddy box and begin your life as the aforementioned mutant murderer. It will be down to you to grow crops, kill mutants, rake in cashews (currency) and even form relationships. An enticing premise indeed.
Cut To The Chase
Those of you waltzing into Atomicrops expecting Stardew Valley with murder, should probably temper your expectations somewhat. This is because farming in Atomicrops is not exactly deep, interesting or even the focus of the game. In fact, the farming is simply a way of getting money. The crux of the gameplay is running and gunning, whilst existing in a farm based setting. Crops are purely there to generate income, to allow a more efficient killing spree to ensue.
What little farming exists in Atomicrops boils down to digging holes, throwing seeds into said holes, and watching as your character automatically waters the general area. It is incredibly hands off experience that, at best, serves the combat, and at worst feels like a weird addition to a shooter. Each crop has its uses, so you will be strategically positioning your irradiated squashes in such a way that allows for a more efficient shooter experience. This doesn’t feel like farming, it feels like a fairly clunky mechanic disguised as a farming to attract a wider audience.
Since farming is mostly superfluous, lets dig deeper into the combat. During the day you will run around various surrounding areas to kill monsters, collect loot, animals and seeds. Once night rolls around you will typically be defending your turf against waves of mutants. Once morning rolls around, you hop onto a helicopter, fly to your market hub, spend your cashews before doing it all over again. As a roguelite, death is permanent and progression is mostly lost with only a few minor things carrying over from each run. Randomness also plays a major role, especially in regards to loot. Sometimes you will be inundated with farm tending allies such as cows, whilst at others, you will find murderous combine harvesters, turrets and general farming supplies. Needless to say, the game can be quite mean at times and there is a real chance a run could go balls up early, if the RNG gods don’t look down upon your farmstead favourably.
The Nitty Gritty
Down to the nitty gritty then – Atomicrops just isn’t fun to play. I found myself floating between two distinct states of mind – bored and irritated. The gameplay loop never really got its hooks into me. No one mechanic was fleshed out enough to really grab my attention. Then irritation sunk in. Cheap enemies would frequently attack from off screen, the combat felt clunky and healing was not exactly common. More often than not, death came from a series of irritating circumstances, born from a game without much hold over my attention and I ultimately found very little enjoyment from this mishmash of a game. This is made worse on Switch when you factor in the terrible performance issues. There are constant stutter and frame drops making the simplest of tasks an exercise in frustration.
Is It A Looker?
Presentation wise, Atomicrops looks like a 90’s cartoon show. Everything is bright and vibrant, whilst oozing (literally) that unique, disgusting, radical style that could only have been born from that era. Where most farming sims go for a charming, quaint style, Atomicrops goes for a gross, yet colourful, assortment of characters, vegetables and enemies that certainly makes it stand out from the crowd. Personally, the style didn’t quite appeal to me, however it is undeniably quite the looker.
Atomicrops is a real missed opportunity of a game. The concept is fascinating, the art style is eye catching, but the gameplay is sorely lacking. For a game built on the concept of ‘farming sim, with guns’, it really fails to deliver on the farming, or the gunplay. The poor performance was the final nail in this radioactive coffin. As a result, I simply cannot recommend Atomicrops.
Toast Seal Of Disapproval
If you’re interested in Farming Sims, then I have an amazing guest review for the brilliant Stardew Valley that is absolutely worth a gander. If you are more of a shoot first, farm later kinda person, then perhaps you would be interested in The Binding Of Isaac.
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