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AtomTeam's post-apocalyptic ATOM RPG launched out of Early Access back in December, but for whatever reason, reviews for this Fallout-inspired title seem to be a rare and precious commodity. Still, if you're interested in reading a bit about ATOM's mechanics, writing and, most prominently, its overwhelmingly Soviet setting, you should check out this RPG Codex review.
A few sample paragraphs:
Unlike the real world, ATOM’s version of the USSR ended with a bang rather than a whimper. In 1986, a date suspiciously close to the beginning of Perestroika, Cold War came to an abrupt and violent halt. A decades-long rivalry finally ended in mutual nuclear annihilation. The divine broom swept most of the traces of humanity from the planet. However, not even atomic bombs could eradicate life entirely. With the exception of some mutated wildlife, the new and emerging world of post-apocalyptic 90s was not unlike its real-life counterpart: roaming gangs, rotting junkies, lawlessness, and a small number of decent people trying to make it through the anarchy.
The game is set in 2003, in the times when the past is all but forgotten, and the future hasn’t been written yet. Despite the apparent dissolution of the USSR, the denizens of this world still cling to their Soviet identity, even if it hurts their immediate interests. Unbeknownst to them, their desperate struggle to retain a modicum of their former self is assisted by a mysterious military organization called ATOM. With apparent parallels to the Brotherhood of Steel, they are a secretive, well-trained and equipped underground group whose goal is to preserve the Soviet legacy and bring the socialist utopia back to the Wasteland - this time without a mortal enemy to hold them back.
The player is given the role of a member of ATOM who is sent on a dangerous mission of locating a missing expedition led by enigmatic general Morozov. As expected, following his trail leads you to discovering the nature of ATOM, circumstances surrounding the nuclear war, great conspiracies, and possibly a new, greater life for the Wasteland. The most profound mystery of ATOM RPG, undoubtedly, is the [REDACTED] conducted in [REDACTED] to [REDACTED] forever. Better fasten your seatbelt!
This premise is familiar to anyone who has played Fallout, and it’s obvious that it’s been purposefully constructed this way to invoke a strong image of it. On the surface level, ATOM RPG’s script is a remix of Fallout’s story, sure, but it’s not a deconstruction. Many plot elements and world details have been lifted from the immortal post-apocalyptic adventure almost verbatim and then shuffled, seemingly randomly. Some major story points of Fallout have been reduced to gags while others retain their importance. Despite this almost damning characteristic, conceptually, it works in favor of both the ‘nostalgia for Fallout’ angle and creating some fitting imagery for ATOM RPG’s own universe. Without spoiling much, I’ll just say that the word ‘Unity’ becomes frighteningly appropriate in this game...
ATOM RPG’s main menu greets us with a very suitable view: an unknown, apparently military man is walking away from the camera and into a ruined city. The sun is setting (rising?) in the background. We hear a nostalgic Soviet song ‘Blue Cities.’ Its lyrics paint a hazy picture where the past and future flow into each other forming the present. After a while, the man has gone, and the song has ended. Oppressive silence now accompanies the still city.
It becomes clear: ATOM is not a cautionary tale but a reminiscence.