Friday, May 25

Review: Atomine [Nintendo Switch eShop]

If you’ve been following my reviews for a while you may have picked up that I’m a bit of an old-school arcade gamer with a weakness for a good twin-stick shooter. Whether it is the more bare bones and basic type or ones that get something procedurally-generated going I’m usually down for some fun. Atomine is a bit of an interesting mix of the old and new-school twin-stick shooting cool in one, with procedurally-generated levels, some challenging bosses, and a very distinctive yet sparse visual style.

In the game you’re roughly in the role of a computer virus that’s looking to infiltrate a computer system, hacking through layers of security. The aesthetics are pretty interesting, though at times the camera angles and on-screen glitches (though they can be turned off that sort of sterilizes the game too much) can get to be a bit much. The thing is, for the most part they work and they help distinguish this from pretty well everything else on the console. As you progress and get in deeper you’ll begin to unlock improved enhancements, weapons, and even base configurations to start from. In general the challenge is pretty substantial and it took awhile for me to unlock enough and get into a groove with a configuration that worked well for me.

In the normal spirit of it being a roguelike the weapon enhancements, for the most part, are a give and take proposition. Increase your range and you’ll typically lose some frequency, split your fire into multiple shots and they’ll get weaker. It is really a balancing act and I found myself trying a variety of configurations out with different base weapons before I found my ideal mix, which typically involved a single powerful laser beam, but there’s a case to be made for some other weapon combinations as well no doubt. Energy that represents your health tends to be a premium as you move on in levels so enhancement opportunities that improve the drop rate or rate it replenishes you are often a key to long-term success.

In terms of criticisms the typical issue with roguelikes does rear its head in the sense that you’ll need to invest some time struggling to get to the point where you’re feeling like you’ve got a fighting chance. A somewhat typical indie flaw can also be aggravating early and that’s the fact that pretty well nothing is explained at all so you’ll need to work through some initial trial-and-error experimentation just to be sure what all can damage you, what different enhancements mean, etc. All things considered at the price it is asking I wouldn’t say it’s a tremendous sticking point, just be warned.

If you’re a die hard twin-stick shooting fan Atomine is a bit of a breath of fresh air among the offerings already available. Its more arcade-like sensibilities make it a bit more friendly to pick up and play and the runs tend to be on the quicker side, though if you get rolling it can take a bit. More mainstream gamers who’re in search of a shooter to check out may find there are better examples of the genre on the Switch but could find the relative simplicity of it all appealing, especially in handheld more where its more chunky look works well on the smaller screen. If you’re looking for a very cyberpunk-looking twin-stick experience it is worth a look.

Score: 7

  • A pretty solid roguelike twin-stick shooter with some great base arcade sensibilities
  • In terms of look and feel it is distinct in its genre on the system
  • Its graphical style is pretty well-suited to handheld play

  • Some initial grind before you’ll feel viable
  • Very little is explained at all, making initial runs a bit confusing in places
  • There are better examples of the genre on the system