Atomic Heart Is Ready To Set The World On Fire
Back in 2018, we got this amazing dystopian trailer for a weird ass looking game. Atomic Heart. It looked to be mixing a lot of different genres together and putting its own spin on things. Most importantly it was this new mysterious IP that we didn’t know anything about. Then it went mostly silent for a few years, with a few scant trailers or announcements here and there. But just recently we got a firm release date so I jumped at the opportunity to talk to CEO and Game Director at Mundfinsh Robert Bagratuni, about Atomic Heart and the journey it’s been on in those almost five years.
Justin: With the release a few months away, how has the team been feeling since it put the February release date out there?
Robert: We are really excited about polishing the game in this challenging pre-release period. It is indeed a very exhilarating moment because in 50-60 days our game will be released to the public – that feeling of creating, discussing, changing, and improving something that is suddenly available to players all over the world. We really hope that the release will go smoothly and that players will love the game!
Justin: I remember back in 2018 being absolutely floored by the announcement trailer. Things have come a long way but I have to ask, does that initial trailer still get the vibe across of what players can expect from Atomic Heart?
Robert: The short answer is: absolutely!
If we go into details, we all understand that games take a long time to make, and it’s really serious work. Especially when it comes to creating a new IP, a new universe with its own rules, its own special story. Quite frankly, we had a chicken and egg problem at that time and I am very pleased that we got such a huge and positive feedback from the audience. It gave us a lot of confidence in what we were doing. All this hype in 2018, actually made the game real, you know it’s important to believe in what you’re doing and love it, but when you have the support of millions of people around the world, going all the way and making a dream game becomes a lot more realistic. Most of the demonstrated mechanics in the game have been preserved and improved many times over. We recently had a team discussion about how pathetic that zombie clown was, he didn’t make it into the game in the end, at one point we decided he was making the tone of the game too fun and ruining the overall seriousness a bit. As for the rest of the stuff shown – there’s a lot of it preserved and made much cooler, so you don’t have to worry about that – it’s still the same crazy and interesting world of Atomic Heart that we’ve seen in 2018. 🙂
Justin: There have been a lot of comparisons to BioShock with Atomic Heart. Did that boost morale? Did it hinder it in any way?
Robert: Atomic Heart is not a clone of BioShock as many people think. The game has special left-handed skills too, and the overall tone, the general idea is also comparable to BioShock in an dystopian context, but it should be understood that Atomic Heart is actually a mixture of many genres, with more different mechanics than we are used to seeing in classic shooters, and some segments of the game may even seem closer to the Portal game with rather harsh (but not obligatory) challenges for players. I would say it’s probably an immersive shooter where sometimes you fight furiously and sometimes you have to think, it’s a mix of BioShock, Half-Life, Portal, the combat may remind you of the Dying Light series in places. There are characters to talk to in flashy dialogues, a very strong plot and a lot of talking going on between P-3 and his companion and other characters.
The overall tone of the narration is quite humorous or even satirical in places, I mean the dialogues between Char-les and P-3. There are some totally crazy characters, like Nora craft-machine, or Rafik robot and Tereshkova robot. They are great fun to interact with, but as the story progresses, the situation with P-3 becomes more horrific and dramatic, the game is very different and it changes that’s its thing – it’s addictive with its plot. My point is that all these comparisons to the games listed above work, as long as you haven’t played Atomic Heart yet. We are certain that once you’ve played it, it’ll be a lot easier to say what Atomic Heart is than to list all the games you hear about.
Justin- Atomic Heart was shown in 2018, but when did development start on the project?
Robert- The studio was founded in 2017, the main development phase started in 2018 after a long pre-production, and when the team already understood the how, the what, and desired outcome. We had planned well when the core team was already in Cyprus in 2018, so we started to expand the team and the main production started. Although it should be noted that the very idea of the world of the Atomic Heart was born many years before 2017.
Justin- Has there been any story or gameplay changes since the announcement? If so, are you able to speak to some of them?
Robert- As for mechanics, of course we had to reject some ideas, such as multiplayer mechanics. As for the story, we rewrote the story four times, rewrote the script, supplemented it, heavily changed the tone of the narrative so that the environment, the gameplay, and the story were consistent. This entailed changing the main story quest that the player moves through to the denouement, but it was clearly worth it. If I go into more detail it would be a spoiler, so I guess we can come back to that after the release!
Justin- Now there is a date for Atomic Heart, and it’s very close. Has there been internal discussions about what’s next?
Robert- There is no plan to stop after the release. We already have several DLCs planned for the year ahead – places, stories, and experiences that we want to share, those that were difficult to fit into the main game and in keeping the player’s focus on the plot. Also, while we were creating Atomic Heart we thought of many mechanics that we wanted to realize, but they didn’t fit into the current game. We will realize many of them in our next games.
Justin- Lastly, is there something you want players to have in mind when they dive into Atomic Heart?
Robert- I can’t advise on anything specific here… Just don’t forget that games are entertainment designed to provide a wide range of awesome emotions. I hope you enjoy the story of the world of Atomic Heart!
I want to thank Robert for giving me some of his time when the team is hard at work finishing up Atomic Heart. After almost five long years it’s almost time to dive into it, and I personally can not wait.
Atomic Heart releases February 21st to PlayStation 4/5, PC, Xbox One, and Xbox Series X/S as well as launching day one on Gamepass! For more interviews, reviews, and features stay locked to DreadXP, and in the meantime check out Sucker for Love on Switch!