Atlas Fallen (2023) Game Review – At least it’s not as bad as Forspoken

At least it’s not as bad as Forspoken

Atlas Fallen is a game that could have been great. It’s a title that’s on the cusp of something special, but there are way too many moving parts here that falter. The narrative is woeful. The characters are lifeless husks. The lore is painfully cliched. And the combat is not great.

The title itself feels like something spewed out of an AI algorithm and to be honest, playing the game feels the same way. This is literally “generic dystopian sand world” dialed up to 100. Much like Forspoken earlier this year (but thankfully not quite THAT bad), Atlas Fallen features a protagonist that’s thrust into a fantastical world, armed with a mysterious talking gauntlet and learns that there’s a higher purpose bound for them.

In fact, the narratives between the two games are surprisingly similar, but this one lacks the same cheesy tongue-in-cheek humour that came with playing as Fray in Forspoken. Instead, this is a simple “chosen one” tale, with a rather dour and lifeless protagonist. And to top it off, there’s just not much to the story. There’s a “twist” toward the end regarding the fate of a character that doesn’t really feel all that impactful, and when you finish, you’ll have a hard time remembering any of the characters.


As you take on the role of your protagonist, you’re tasked with freeing your people and overthrowing the tyrannical empire that rules over everything with an iron fist. Along the way, you team up with several different NPCs in the world, although in truth they’re relegated to the backburner while you head off adventuring yourself.

That adventuring comes in the form of several different maps, all lacking Fast Travel but small enough that travel from A to B isn’t too much of an annoyance. To combat that, you’re given the option of gliding across the sand, like a slower snowboarding track in SSX, and completing different tasks in the process. These come in two different forms.

The first, comes from unlocking “shards” to upgrade your gauntlet. These shards, in turn, allow you to interact with the environment in different ways, whether that be double-dashing through the air or lifting items out the ground to use as platforms to jump over.

The second comes from completing missions and engaging in combat. Combat is refined here to include Essence Stones, which are basically slots you add into your equipment to mix up abilities and combat buffs. These can range from projectiles and magic attacks to better defence and buffing of base stats. These Essence Stones are split into three tiers, which each unlocked in turn as you build up your momentum bar. Tier 3 hold the most powerful and devastating abilities. Using these drains your momentum bar and you’ll have to raise it again.

This Momentum is the bread and butter of combat, as you evade and slash through different enemies, all the while building it up. There’s a pretty lenient bar here that doesn’t drop too quickly, so it’s quite easy to build up that momentum to use skills. You can also add more stones to your arsenal through exploration, completing side quests (see: fetch quests) for different NPCs and just through combining formulas that you unlock as you go.

As the game progresses, you also get the ability to upgrade these Essence Stone slots, which helps to keep combat fresh and more skills used in battle.

There’s a good core system at play here and switching between different Essence Stones is actually really fun, especially seeing which ones stick and which should be relegated to the backburner and never used again. If you choose to focus on a few key favourites, you can actually upgrade those skills through collecting different herbs and resources out in the wilderness, encouraging you to explore every part of Atlas Fallen. The trouble is, that’s more of a chore than it should be.

Atlas Fallen looks beautiful on the surface but under the hood, its world is a mess. There’s not really anything all that memorable to explore in the world, barely anything noteworthy outside the main quest areas while the distinct lack of life – both flora and fauna – makes this feel like a dead and desolate area. And not in a good way.

When you do eventually go up against enemies, these quickly lose their initial spark, given the enemy design isn’t all that varied. You’ll encounter a fair number of different boss fights through the game, but each of these are then also used as monsters fighting out in the wilderness afterwards, losing their appeal. And that’s before mentioning the final area of the game, which is poorly designed and literally throws so many monsters your way in an attempt to try and drive up the playtime of the game.

There’s also an inconsistency with the characters too. There’s a desire to try and inject some “choices” into the dialogue but these all lead in the same direction and feels like a weird directorial choice. But then your character is so stoic and lifeless most of the way through that you never get a feel for their personality.

Late on, 8 hours into the game, the gauntlet’s voice over and the main protagonist crack a joke for the first time; a stale and toe-curling cringe-fest that sees the gauntlet discuss the history of battlements on a castle. The protagonist’s reply feels so awkward and jarring that you’ll likely look around seeing if there’s anyone else present. And all the while, the voice acting almost the entire way through borders on unbearable.

There are a litany of issues with Atlas Fallen and it’s frustrating because just as you start to get into the game, another one rears its head. Simple decisions like choosing to place 2 valuable gold pick-ups out in the open in the slum area of a town (while people are literally begging for money right next to them), are simple decisions that really take you out of the world.

If ever there was a game that embodies the term wasted potential, Atlas Fallen is it. There’s some nice ideas in here, but none of them are executed all that well. They’re muddled with a myriad of disappointing and poor elements that just do not work. Atlas has well and truly fallen here but at least it’s not as bad as Forspoken. Which, I guess, is one saving grace.

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  • Verdict - 5.5/10

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