Previewed on PC
Despite the huge library of unreleased games available at the event, I spent far too much of my time playing Atomicrops at EGX Rezzed. After I got my first taste on my the Thursday and found myself just scraping a place on the leaderboard, I was hooked. I was coming back to the booth at least twice a day in order to try and best not only my score but everyone else who had placed their names above mine. It wasn’t just wanting my name lit up on the coveted leaderboard that kept me coming back, though, Each time I returned, I was just itching to play one of the best games at EGX Rezzed. I wanted to see what more it had to offer.
In Atomicrops, you find yourself as the owner of the last farm on Earth after the nuclear apocalypse. With little more than a few seeds, a dream and a semi-automatic rifle, it’s up to you to sustain the world. You’ll have to plant, water and fertilize crops ’til they can be harvested to sell on at the local village after each night. If you survive, you’ll be able to go back to the tow and buy some tantalizingly powerful upgrades that improve your stats. These strong upgrades are only available by spending your hard-earned cash, which depends on how many crops you’ve harvested throughout the day. During the daytime, you can plant and pick up roses which will recruit a companion. Just like in real life, giving someone a rose ends in marriage. Also like real life, marrying someone means they’ll join you in combat.
Knowing the importance of farming and harvesting your crops, you may want to stay close to your far and care for them constantly. However, if you do this you’ll quickly run out of seeds making it imperative that you go beyond the soft tillable soil of your farm and explore the surrounding areas.
Each one of these areas is populated by its own unique monsters and encampments for you to kill your way through. Doing so will not only reward you with more seeds to grow more crops, but also pickaxes and farm animals to expand your land and abilities.
Farming is more than a cheap gimmick in Atomicrops, it’s the core of the experience. Because you’ll need to plant and keep an eye on your crops – even with the trusty rescued farm animals helping you out – you’ll need to come back from adventuring periodically throughout the day to make sure your harvest is optimised and bountiful so your score may be too. This gives you a constant choice whilst you play and explore, do you finish off the next group of enemies to try and get a new upgrade to your tilling speed or watering hose power? Or do you head back to the farm early and plant your new seeds so the harvest will be done before nightfall and daybreak?
When the night falls, a new side of Atomicrops is revealed as the monsters go on the offensive and attack your farm, forcing you to return to your crops to defend them and get in some sneaky harvesting when you have the time. In our preview, the nights offered a relative calm compared to the high intensity of the hostile areas away from the farm, as the enemies that come for you are low powered and fragile, allowing them to be dispatched with ease.
This calm is interrupted when one of the games two scripted bosses show up, on the third and fourth nights of the preview. These huge foes will require your full attention as you unload all you’ve got into them. This makes you choose, once again, between defending against the steady stream of critters that want to eat your veggies and dealing with the boss who’d much rather feast on you.
Within the four-night span we played for our preview, everything happens very quickly. Even getting married, as whilst there are some hurdles to have to be overcome, such as getting the rare rose seeds from the one type of enemy encampment that they spawn from, they’re quite easy to overcome. Whilst this might seem like a challenge, there are usually just enough of these encampments in one area to get you all the seeds you’ll need to marry someone, allowing it to be achieved relatively quickly within just a night or two.
Getting married in just two nights might seem like a rush, but in Atomicrops it is well worth it. Not only will your partner join you on your farm to help kill the critters that attack, but they will also give you an upgrade with each rose you give them. In the first three roses you give your partner, you get a random upgrade from the shop or the field. The forth rose that allows for marriage, however, is far more important as you’ll be given an upgrade to your gun to change its firing type. This allows your humble semi-automatic rifle to change into: a rapid submachine gun that will chew through enemies, a devastating shotgun with pitiful range but obscene damage, or many more interesting styles to keep each run unique.
Atomicrops already shows a great deal of promise, even in the short demo that I played over and over again so there is no doubt that it has the promise to stand amongst the great roguelikes of our day. The question remains however on whether it will have enough depth to give it the staying power that the other games have that will see them being played for hundreds of hours to come. I for one certainly hope so.