Analysis of Atomic Heart: Metal and viscera to the rhythm of Tchaikovsky

Throughout the world there are video game studios with extensive professional careers and spectacular resumes, but it is increasingly common to find small and recently created companies that cause a huge stir with their first project.

In the case of Mundfish, a study based in Cyprus and with many Russian developers that has been generating excitement for years with Atomic Heart, a title set in an alternative and futuristic Soviet Union and that takes as a reference sagas of the likes of BioShock, Doom or fallout.

After this endless wait, we have now been able to play and complete the Mundfish video game and today we will tell you what we thought of our Atomic Heart analysis, which arrives this week directly on Xbox Game Pass as a great incentive.

Accomplish your mission, comrade.

Atomic Heart takes us to a futuristic and alternative Soviet Union in which robots and machines have become a fundamental part of the functioning of modern societies, with the USSR at the head of the great world powers and exporting its cutting-edge technology to the rest of the world, including the United States. At this juncture, we as players take control of Sergei Nechaev, better known as Major P-3, the right hand of Dr. Sechenov, the great architect of the “polymerization” (a key term in the lore of the game) of the Union. Soviet Union, which is nothing more than uniting the entire population in a joint project known as Kollektiv.

Our goal is to travel to Installation 3826 on Sechenov’s orders and stop the outbreak of violent robots that is endangering not only the credibility of the Soviet Union vis-a-vis the outside world, but also the integrity of the Soviet citizens themselves. Far from bluffing, Mundfish’s comparison with BioShock is well founded. Atomic Heart deals with topics such as philosophy, humanity, communism against capitalism and has enormous political, war and social implications. It is a story full of ideological edges that not only invite fun due to its unbridled action, but also make us reflect on these and many other matters.

Obviously we will not go into details to avoid spoilers. On a purely narrative level, Atomic Heart falls into certain tropes of the genre and has a somewhat predictable development of events, although it also has a good number of surprises up its sleeve that will keep us on our toes during the approximately 20 hours that the game lasts. (we have completed it in about 18 focusing mostly on the main story). But let’s get to the most important thing: the playable proposal of the first Mundfish title.

My name is Les, Char-Les

Fortunately for us, P-3 is not alone in his adventure in Atomic Heart, but he has the help of Char-Les or Charles, a robotic glove that will not only give us deep philosophical conversation, but will also be our great assistant. in combat and out of it. How will he do it? Well, in the purest BioShock, Dishonored or Prey style, to give a few examples. And it is that the great strength of Atomic Heart is how it combines melee weapons, firearms and energy weapons and powers that allow us to electrify, freeze, incinerate or throw our robotic enemies into the air. The title of Mundfish rewards you to specialize in a few specific skills, but it adds a twist to the sensational formula that we will discuss later.

The truth is that it is a real pleasure to roast enemies with our polymeric powers while we hack them, fire a charged plasma shot at them or even surprise them with a missile. The combination of all the possibilities of action that Atomic Heart offers is its strong point in terms of spectacularity and has an indisputable component of fun. However, one of the things that I liked the most about the game is its looting system. In similar works we have to go through the settings looking carefully at everything we can take and add to our inventory, but Atomic Heart, by the hand of Charles, allows us to loot filing cabinets, fallen enemies, tables and desks like a vacuum cleaner, drawers and chests without interruption or discriminate what interests us or what not. Everything is useful. It’s not just comfortable; it’s fun to use.

Inventory management and what we do with all those materials we collect is essential to progress on the right foot in Atomic Heart. That is why we will frequently come across Nora, a kind of vending machine in which we can recycle everything we have obtained to create new weapons from diagrams that we have to find, improve them with parts, enhance those same parts and decide what what to carry and what not to carry so that we can fit everything we need in our limited capacity inventory. The other function that we can carry out in the Nora machines is to invest the polymeric material acquired in new abilities for the character. We can dedicate them to a more general category to increase our health, the speed of P-3 or the available energy among other things, but also to acquire or enhance the powers that we have commented previously.

Back in the USSR

We already know how to fight, but now we are going to delve into the secondary content of Atomic Heart, how its main missions are developed, how to progress in them, what we find and how its open world works. There’s a lot to talk about and it’s very interesting, so we’re going to do it in parts and we’ll start with what we liked the least: the open world. Perhaps it was a feeling exclusively mine, but from the trailers I had the feeling that the open world of Atomic Heart was going to play a fundamental role in its proposal. The truth is that, in terms of the main story, it is a mere backdrop to move from mission to mission. And it is that the vast majority of principals are developed only indoors. And that’s great news, believe us.

Yes, there is a semi-open world (with obvious limitations typical of an AA game such as Atomic Heart), but it’s not as fun as I would have liked. The exteriors are plagued with enemies to the point that it is practically impossible to take two steps without several robots coming to meet us and making our lives miserable. At first it’s annoying because you don’t have enough power to deal with them; then it is because all you want is to reach your destination, be it a main mission or optional content. Worst of all is that, in addition to the enemies, the game has an alert system that means that if we fight enemies in the eyes of the surveillance cameras (there are a lot and they can be reconstructed by drones even though we destroy them) it reaches level 2 and enemies appear incessantly until we leave the area. In short, dealing with the open world has been tedious for me to the point of doing far fewer secondaries than I was initially willing to do.

As for the main story, as we said, the open world has little or no relevance, but if you want to go to the testing areas that have different puzzles that give us access to diagrams of weapons, improvements, and very powerful parts, you will have to go through ring. Atomic Heart also allows us to get into a car to move between the longest routes. It comes in handy to avoid some problems and save minutes of our lives, but it has also caused us some problems such as seeing how our vehicle began to roll over simply by running over a robot that crossed our path, forcing us to search another car to continue.

Before we said that it is good news that the main missions are developed almost entirely in interior levels and we did not say it just to say it. Atomic Heart’s level design is sensational. The objectives of the missions may be somewhat repetitive, usually with the focus placed on the search for specific objects by the mapping, each one of them located at strategic points on the level in question. However, the variety of situations that occur is such that we are always eager to see what the game has in store for us next. Mundfish skilfully combines action phases (sometimes with bosses or waves of enemies in which we must resist) with platforming (by far the least polished in the game), puzzles or simple minigames to open doors.

It may seem like a minor thing, but door-opening minigames are the order of the day in Atomic Heart and we’ve loved them. We have the classic Skyrim lock pick system, but also one of dials in which we must align colors, another in which we must press buttons at a great pace in a limited time or another in which we have to match a laser using coils in different ways. It’s hard to put into words why these mini-games are fun, but regardless of how they feel to you, they’re a breath of fresh air between action and action.

Although it is not a playable mechanic, Charles’s company is another of the strengths of the work. Our robotic glove’s conversations with P-3 are most interesting, though their pace and depth don’t always match the sometimes Doom-inspired hectic pace of the game. We have come across situations where Charles talks to us about humanity and conscience while three robots are trying to tan our backs. It is not the most comfortable way to philosophize, comrade. We have also seen conversations suddenly interrupted because we have reached a point (very close, by the way) in which a different one must be activated. It’s like the game sometimes doesn’t give itself the space it needs, forcing us to make the decision to stay still in order to listen to the conversations without the risk of being cut off.

The most metal Tchaikovsky

Where the game is not run over in any way is in the musical section. We wanted to dedicate a few words to this particular issue because it gives us the feeling that it will not be talked about as much and we believe that it deserves it.

Mundfish’s musical taste and how they’ve blended it with the game’s narrative, symbology, and gameplay is absolutely awe-inspiring. Atomic Heart makes frequent (and we must say very intelligent) use of classical music, with the presence of course of the Russian Tchaikovsky and his Swan Lake, but also of other legendary classical composers.

However, the combination becomes absolutely unbeatable when paired with heavy metal pieces that feel like they’re straight out of Doom. It is not surprising, since the composer Mick Gordon is the one who gave life to the sound section of the id Software saga since its restart in 2016, among other works.

Shooting dozens of enemies left and right while playing classical music mixed with metal has been one of the most adrenaline-pumping and exciting experiences I’ve had recently in a video game. Mundfish’s care in this regard has been millimeter. Nor is a fantastic dubbing in Spanish left behind, although you can play the title in a multitude of other languages.

Likewise, it would not be fair to finish this text without talking about the graphic and artistic section of Atomic Heart. And it is that if the title entered the eyes of thousands of users from all over the world, it was because of its heart-stopping graphics.

We can confirm that the final version also has them (with a single dynamic 4K graphics mode and about 60 fps that feel like death), especially careful in its incredible prologue. Later we are noticing the typical seams of an AA that is not an AAA, but it looks at a high level throughout the experience, yes, with some specific drops in the frame rate per second that we hope will be corrected with a patch the day of release.


It may be unfair because Atomic Heart is not a triple A and it is the first project of a small and inexperienced studio, but the truth is that Mundfish’s work comes with immense expectations. Having completed his story in about eighteen hours, we can say that not only has he survived the expectations that had been placed on him, but the Cypriot study has fulfilled a remarkable note. Atomic Heart is a deep and transcendent game in the narrative, although predictable in the plot. But where it really comes into its own is in a devilishly fun combat system. Combining firearms, melee weapons, and powers of all kinds to tear our enemies to shreds causes a great feeling, especially when the game allows us and invites us to do and undo as we please until we find the build of our wettest dreams. .

An outstanding musical section that we cannot fail to highlight is the perfect accompaniment to be able to say that we are facing one of the most outstanding games so far this year and that, without a doubt, it should be a candidate for some other award when it comes time to do balance of this 2023. We have been disappointed by its open world and the treatment that is given to it, but it more than makes up for it with a magnificent interior level design, with little to envy to the big names in which it is inspired. Best of all, Atomic Heart comes out on Xbox Game Pass and if you are a subscriber to the service you will be able to see for yourself everything we have been talking about. If you like unbridled action, it would be a crime for you to miss it, comrade.

The best
interior level design
Its devilishly fun gameplay
The topics it deals with and how it does it
Music and how you play with it
Its disappointing open world
Small and punctual performance problems

Leave a Comment