by Sergio Brinkhuis
previewed on PC
Atomicrops was one of two games this Gamescom that I did not think I would be covering. Sean and I were visiting Raw Fury for a demo of Mosaic – a game he absolutely loved, but I’m too uncultured for (read: I am too impatient to play), seeing my predicament, our hostess asked if I needed rescuing (she has a history of rescuing me at Gamescoms). She did not have to ask twice, and two minutes later I was watching the colourful, frantic carnage that is Atomicrops.
Raw Fury likes to describe Atomicrops as an ‘action roguelike farming simulator’, and while it is all of that, it does not explain what the game is all that well. Yes there is a link with games like Stardew Valley but if you’d put both of these games next to each other, you’d be hard pressed to find where they meet. I mean, if you’d say it’s the offspring of Harvest Moon and Space Invaders, you’d not be wrong either.
Alright, let’s take a step back.
THE LAST FARMER
Atomicrops is set against a backdrop of a post-nuclear war in which most of humanity was destroyed. As far as you know, you are the world’s last farmer, responsible for feeding the survivors that have settled in a nearby town. Radiation has warped pretty much everything around you — your crops look nothing like the produce that came from the fields of pre-fallout farmers, and the animals that once inhabited the lands are now mutated. I had a good chuckle the first time I saw Bundits appear. These are bunnies that behave like bandits trying to steal your crop. They didn’t look very friendly at all. So crops and animals all have changed, and it’s more than a bit crazy.
I am not sure if you could say that farming is the central element of Atomicrops, but it's certainly where you start. You till some soil, plant some seeds and – very much unlike Stardew — protect your crops from an ever-expanding stream of beasties trying to eat them. Whatever you are able to keep from being eaten, you sell at the end of the day when a helicopter comes to pick you up to take you to the one surviving market (an improvement over Stardew really — I hated all that walking). The growing and tending of crops isn’t terribly deep — with the exception of doing a bit of fertilizing and the occasional combining of crops into mega crops (think small sized potatoes to monster sized ones), there’s not a lot to do other than keeping the creatures away. Honestly, arcade-combat is really the core of Atomicrops, and farming is just a great backdrop and a way to make some money to get bigger weapons.
SEWING THE SEEDS
When playing it is possible to set up some defenses around your farmland and venture off for a while. Your land is surrounded by other biomes that can be explored for money, seeds and special items. The dessert biome has seeds for crops that will grow slow but require less care, the plains biome yields seeds for fast-growing crops that need lots of tending. But obtaining seeds is not easy. None of the biomes are very safe, so you’ll need weapons there as much as you do on the farm. One curious aspect of Atomicrops is that weapons last for only a single day. You’ll be buying a new one at the market after every workday to survive the day that follows. If you have any cash left, you could pick up a tractor. These are automated machines with a unique ability to aid you on your farm. One might water the crops, another spreads fertilizer, and so on.
I have to admit, I am not 100% certain whether our hostess actually rescued me, but Atomicrops turned out to be a funky little game that I am glad I got to see. Reading back, the above doesn’t actually explain the game very well at all – so Raw Fury is not alone in that. It’s probably because it’s just so off base that it’s hard to explain it any better. If reading this got your interest peaked, look it up online and see for yourself.