An Analysis of the Album Atomic Heart

An Analysis of the Album Atomic Heart

Atomic Heart has some good parts, like a good story and a good overall design, but every step of the way it gets worse because of how much fat it has.

When Atomic Heart is turned on, it has a lot going for it: a unique story, a good setting, and an interesting player character. Atomic Heart has a good story and a few design features that make it stand out, but as the game goes on, players will see that its best and worst parts are stretched out until nothing good is left.

Atomic Heart takes about 25 hours to beat on the easiest setting, which is a good amount of time for most games. This gives the game plenty of time to set up its story, go into its most interesting parts, and back it up with fun mechanics and gameplay. But that’s not what it does. Less than half of that time is spent doing something interesting or fun, while the rest is just annoying filler. This makes the game an incoherent mess that is hard to describe.

The story of Atomic Heart has its ups and downs. The player takes on the role of Major Sergei Nechaev, who is also known as P-3 in the game. Nechaev is a special assignments officer for the USSR hero Dmitry Sechenov. He wears a glove named Charles that is controlled by artificial intelligence. Charles gives Nechaev someone to talk to and lets him unlock some special abilities as the game goes on. In Forspoken, Charles is almost the same as Cuff, which may be the best way to compare Charles on all fronts. Sechenov is getting ready to launch something called “Kollective 2.0,” and P-3 has to find and stop a plot that would stop the launch. Along the way, a lot of secrets and relationships come to light, and the chaos creates a few exciting moments. But chaos is a part of every other part of its story.

P-3 is being pulled in every direction, and it seems like every character in the game is trying to control him. Everyone wants him to see the truth, but nobody tells him the truth. This, in turn, makes the conversation very hard to understand because P-3 is playing both sides. Every hour, the back and forth between him and Charles changes so much that it’s impossible to know what either P-3 or Charles thinks. The best way to explain this might be to say that the whole story of Atomic Heart is based on a choice between two evils, one that is bad and one that is worse, and that players are constantly moved back and forth between the two. That’s an interesting set-up, but by the end of Atomic Heart, none of it pays off.

On paper, Atomic Heart’s combat and game play should be enough to make up for its boring story. Atomic Heart is ambitious because it has elements of survival and stealth, the need to find blueprints and resources, an open world sandbox behind the setting of Facility 3826, a unique “polymerization” of the world, mechanical and mutant threats, a wide range of weapons and fighting skills, and more. But because the game tries to do so much, it ends up adding a lot of filler. For example, there are a few fun things to do in the open world, such as finding new weapon blueprints and doing something called “Training Grounds,” but they don’t happen very often, so it gets boring to look for them.

The game also has a lot of bosses that seem interesting at first, but after the second or third one, players will realise that they all use the same skills and respond to the same kind of fighting. Atomic Heart has no variety, and every boss fight feels the same as the last one. No matter how big, where, or what kind of boss it is, once players have beaten one, they’ve beaten them all.

The crafting system in the game is memorable, but for all the wrong reasons. It’s not the guns players can make, the resources they can gather, or the blueprints. It’s how they can use or improve their gloves’ abilities. It’s that the crafting system is tied to a strange robot that looks like a red refrigerator. The first few times the player meets this robot, it grabs them violently, makes rude and sexual comments, and constantly bothers them. At some point, the crafting machine just stops doing its job and doesn’t do it again. This strange thing feels like a fever dream that never really happened. Atomic Heart’s weirdest gameplay doesn’t get any stranger than this, and it’s hard to believe it made it past the cutting room floor because it’s so harsh.

In Atomic Heart, players will move through open-world facilities that act like dungeons. The problem is that each dungeon has so many layers that it’s easy to forget why players are there. Puzzles are thrown in at random, and instead of adding to the experience, they just make simple tasks take longer. Almost every big door has a puzzle that doesn’t make sense. For example, if a player has to leave a dungeon, they have to find two things that will open the door. To find these two things, you have to go back through the area. When you use them, you find that they don’t do much more than power the door. Then they have to find four more random objects, which turn out to be their own quests. By the end, players won’t remember what they were supposed to do when they left.

Almost every dungeon has the same problem. If this was taken out of Atomic Heart, it could easily be cut down to 10–12 hours, and the game would be much better for it. In fact, a person could play Atomic Heart for 12 hours in one day and feel like they only made about 3–4 hours of progress. Shorter game sessions make sure that everything in the game moves at a snail’s pace.

And to make things even worse, Atomic Heart on Xbox Series X is full of performance problems and bugs. We had to reload an old save almost every hour, and we often lost a lot of progress because of it. There were also a few hard crashes, but the reload and save system is the biggest problem. Sometimes doors wouldn’t open, goals would disappear, or the game would act like we were still working on a goal we finished hours ago, but reloading the game always fixed the problem. But because of how Atomic Heart’s automatic save and checkpoint system worked, we sometimes lost twenty minutes to two hours of gameplay or were locked into a fight that came out of nowhere. If a player made a mistake, they had to do the whole questline or section over again, or checkpoints would happen right when they did. So, death or bugs were very frustrating from a technical point of view.

P-3 will spend a lot of time wondering why doors are so hard to open or why he’s doing a certain task, and players will do the same. It feels like P-3 and the player are always being played against each other. The story, gameplay, and world design of Atomic Heart all have potential, but none of them live up to it.


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