IMPRESSIONS: Atomicrops on Nintendo Switch

Friday, August 14th, 2020

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I have a secret – I’ve always wanted to love farm sims. Because I’m all for complex tasks and minutiae. But I also like some stakes to keep me invested, other than harvesting enough beets or marrying the town beauty. And generally I can’t find life or death stakes in farm sims. But Atomicrops is special. It’s a post apocalyptic game that marries farm sims with twin-stick shooters. Which is totally insane and just crazy enough to catch my attention.

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Somehow I’m not surprised that the publisher for Atomicrops is Raw Fury. They take chances on really unique games with visual flair, and this one is no different. Atomicrops begins with a quick tutorial where you’re run through the basics. Everything is incredibly streamlined, and generally by holding a shoulder button you’ll fluidly do several tasks. Despite that, I missed one key element – how to harvest your crops. See, your goal is to plant, fertilize and water crops, defend them from mutant varmints and then harvest them to sell. Without doing that last part, you’re not gonna last long against the increasingly dangerous hordes and sporadic boss fights. Once I figured out my mistake, I started to really enjoy the experience.

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I should mention, this game is also a bit rogue. You’ll find random assortments of crops and tools to buy after each round, as well as different love interests. You also never know what weapon you can purchase to take with you into combat. You don’t have to buy a weapon each round, since there’s a default blaster you’re always equipped with. But keep in mind it’s very weak compared to everything else. The only upside to using it is that it’s the only weapon that can’t break down. Everything else goes to the scrap heap at the end of each session.

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Oh and if you think Atomicrops is some easy affair, you couldn’t be more wrong. I am a giant fan of The Binding of Isaac, having spent hundreds of hours enjoying it, and even I find Atomicrops a bit challenging. I have yet to make it far past the first boss. Each boss concludes a farm season, and things gradually get more and more difficult. Enemy swarms get more diverse, and nasty foes will hurl projectiles at you from far away. That said, I’d be lying if I said I didn’t enjoy the game regardless. Part of that is cause of the cartoony neon art, part is cause of the gameplay, and part is cause of the music. Musically this is a outstanding experience, and it reminds me fondly of games like Rayman Origins. Each micro climate you visit has different tunes, and the music ramps up respectably when boss battles occur.

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There’s actually a lot of freedom how you experience the game. You can just do your job, growing crops and defending them, or you can explore. You can wander as far afield as you want, typically finding enemy camps full of animal prisoners, seeds and more. Once you start a run, you’ll have a couple areas you can check out. But to explore farther, you’ll have to buy a bridge repair kit in between sessions. Keep in mind that doing so only unlocks that area for your current run. If you die, you’ll have to unlock it all over again. Which admittedly is a bit disappointing. I prefer rogue games that gradually unlock more and more content. But then again, those more adept at playing Atomicrops probably don’t mind this feature.

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All in all, I did enjoy my time playing through Atomicrops. There’s still plenty to do, and I look forward to getting better and better at the game. I am a little disappointed by some things, including how online for Switch hasn’t been implemented yet. Then again, the game has only been on the console for a few months, so I can let it slide a bit. If you like strange games that defy convention, I’d give this one a look. And if you don’t want it on Switch, worry not. It’s also on PS4, Xbox and PC.

About Josh Speer

Josh is a passionate gamer, finding time to clock in around 30-40 hours of gaming a week. He discovered Operation Rainfall while avidly following the localization of the Big 3 Wii RPGs. He enjoys SHMUPS, Platformers, RPGs, Roguelikes and the occasional Fighter. He’s also an unashamedly giant Mega Man fan, having played the series since he was eight. As Head Editor and Review Manager, he spends far too much time editing reviews and random articles. In his limited spare time he devours indies whole and anticipates the release of quirky, unpredictable and innovative games.