In May 2018 a trailer for a game called Atomic Heart dropped online from Russian developers, Mundfish, and gamers worldwide went wild for it.
A lot of mystery surrounds the development, and upcoming release, of Atomic Heart, an action RPG set in USSR Russia. A lot of publicity for the game is done in-character, most often written as an in-game computer system called Krahz. Still, it’s the trailers and gameplay video releases that have really gained the, as of yet unreleased, game so much online attention.
There’s a lot we don’t know about Atomic Heart, but there’s also plenty to speculate on, and if you’re an intense RPG fan or wish Bioshock had a Russian sequel, you might need to add Atomic Heart to your wishlist.
What is Atomic Heart?
According to the official website, Atomic Heart is ‘about all the things that could have happened in the USSR’s reality but didn’t. Mundfish CEO Bagratuni describes it as ‘part shooter, part hardcore close combat game’. Set in a shooter-based RPG mechanics, your character is a reportedly ‘crazy’ Soviet Special Duty KGB officer. You’re called P-3, and the government tasks you with clearing out Facility 3826, which has suffered a major computer system malfunction and become overrun with hostile robots and creatures. Judging from the descriptions released by Mundfish, you’ll be able to explore an open-world style map of various Soviet facilities and underground labs that need clearing of machines that were created to serve the Soviet industry but have somehow defaulted to their wartime ‘combat’ functions.
Further storylines are unclear at the moment, aside from a love story between two Facility employees that will in some way be important to the main story. Developers repeatedly say that they want to keep some aspects a ‘secret’ before release, but there are hints of a greater plot going on, which will explain why the mass use of Soviet-built robotics has suddenly gone wrong, and it’s your job to uncover it.
Gameplay Samples and Concept Art
If you really want to get the feeling for P-3’s journey through the hectic and beautiful portrayal of an alternate universe 1930’s Soviet Union, you’ll want to binge-watch all of the gameplay videos and promo trailers.
If you want to go through every piece of video content released (sort of) chronologically, you’ll want to start with the wild and weird 10-minute gameplay release that showcases the bizarre Atomic world and your characters melee and combat abilities, and also the fantastic character building – who doesn’t love Russian swear words.
Next up is perhaps the most concrete of content previews, and that’s in the format of a playthrough review by 4Game. Alexey Makarenkov visited the game’s development office, and ‘spent four hours in the game, then a little more on the puzzle level, appreciated the atomic heart shooter mechanics, close combat’ and ‘learned a lot about the world’. While Alexey plays an in-development build of the game, it’s clear that there’s a full product there ready and waiting, it’s just being polished and built out before being ready for launch.
In February and July 2020, those excited by the initial gameplay teases were treated to another 7-minute gameplay. This time featuring a nightmarish mini-boss called Plyush, who now features heavily in the game’s marketing. Alongside this, was this shorter gameplay teaser which delves into the rich atmosphere and frightful robotic enemies, such as mechanical drill snakes.
The graphics and art are spectacular, there’s no doubt, totally credited to the creative designer and purported mastermind behind the entire game concept, Artem Galeev. What kind of system will you need to run Atomic Heart in all its glory? The Steam page has some vague specs, but Mundfish has consistently stated it will be available on both current and next-gen consoles and PC.
Development Updates and Release
The release date for Atomic Heart is a sticking point for many as it now remains as ‘coming soon’ throughout all marketing and quotes from the team. It appears Atomic Heart are still deep in the development cycle and a long way off being done. In October 2019, Mundfish announced they were cancelling a planned multiplayer beta launch and would instead focus on finishing the RPG side of the game. The announcement ends with a promise of more updates in Spring 2020, but no fresh news of a release date has been forthcoming so far.
However, Ultimate Gaming Paradise has requested more publishing and game details from the Mundfish creators, but there’s been no response from any of their social platforms or contact details. This would seem to bolster the online rumours that Atomic Heart may not be all that Mundfish has promised and that the development studio itself is perhaps not so far in the creation cycle as they’ve claimed to be. These are rumours, but it’s worth doing your research before pre-ordering this game, no matter how breath-taking the development content looks.
Another speculation in the gaming community suggests that Atomic Heart won’t be released for a few years. As it’s an indie game developer self-publishing, and taking a look at the careers page of their site they’re looking to hire, essentially, an entire game development team—this may be the case. It begs the question of whether Mundfish currently has the manpower to see the game through, if they’ll be looking to sell, or perhaps even seek a bigger publisher to bring the project to fruition.
Atomic Heart looks like it could give Cyberpunk 2077 a run for its money in terms of concept and graphic design. The existing gameplay content and initial playthrough reviews give fans hope that the game is maybe just a few steps from a beta release, and at the very least it does actually exist. Everything we know about Atomic Heart so far, from the weirdly nostalgic Soviet Russia setting to the terrifying robotic enemies, tells us that this will be a title to watch out for – whenever it’s finally released!