Atomic Heart is, at this moment in time, shaping up to be 2018’s sleeper hit, promising a bombastic and psychedelic take on gaming’s nuclear-action subgenre.
Developed by Russian-based studio Mundfish, Atomic Heart became something of a viral sensation in the indie game scene. The trailer, embedded below, promises a mix of high speed gameplay and a unique retro-futuristic art style.
Most interestingly, the project manages to meld a Fallout-like aesthetic with concerns such as mental illness and European geopolitics, as well as maintaining a relatively light-hearted vibe.
In a feature with IGN, studio CEO Robert Bagratuni detailed some more story details, as well as contextualise the social and political fabric of Atomic Heart.
“The world of Atomic Heart is an alternative reality of the Soviet Union, or an alternative past i.e. this is a game about everything that could have happened but did not take place in the USSR in the ’30s through to the ’60s,” Bagratuni said. “The storyline takes place in a reality where the USSR still exists, but a technical revolution has already taken place: robots, the Internet, holograms have already been invented, but all these innovations are submerged in the atmosphere of communism.”
“In fact, [the protagonist] is completely insane,” Bagratuni said. “And his party has sent him to the power plant ‘3826’ and is waiting for the report. ‘3826’ is inherently strategic – it produces robots for working in the fields. […] Robots are everywhere, they are bartenders, cleaners, security guards, caretakers for the elderly. They have an appealing appearance because they were being sold everywhere, like iPhones.”
Gameplay-wise, Atomic Heart is shaping up to be an open-world affair. The overworld, according to Bagratuni, is taken directly from a real-world USSR chart, involving the Arctic circle, forests, plains, and every other biome the Russia encompasses.
The overworld, in the words of Bagratuni , will be “layered” with tunnels and underground apartments, along with a fully-functional railway system to assist players in traversal. To conclude, he stated that the map will be “huge,” which is likely an understatement considering how much depth Mundfish is going for.
The trailer expands more on the bread and butter of Atomic Heart, which involves some brutal melee combat, gunplay, customisation, and survival elements.