Developer: Broken Arms Games
Release Date: 25 May 2018
Price: $8.99 / £8.99
Reviewed by Josh Brant
The twin-stick shooting genre is nothing new for the Nintendo Switch, with a plethora of such titles already gracing the console. I’m always up for fresh take on the formula though, and developer Broken Arms Games provide that experience in the form of ATOMINE.
While the overall simplicity of the gameplay makes it easy to get into, I wish there was just a bit more depth to make ATOMINE truly stand out.
Plug Into the System
The game is a pure twin-stick shooter with rogue-lite elements that tries to convey what hacking into a program might actually look like if it was a video game. You play as the first ever hacking tool created by STUXNET; a computer virus that must overcome layers of security in order to upload yourself into increasingly more secure computer systems.
The action is prototypical of the genre, and if all you’re looking for are the bare essentials, ATOMINE will have you covered. It features a top-down view, power-ups, and a decent number of enemies to defeat in order to progress to the next stage.
There are a few twists on the mechanic though, including weapon and ability upgrades, but nothing overly original. ATOMINE does feature a unique art style, but at the forefront of any great shooter are the combat mechanics, and in this, ATOMINE is as basic as they come.
You will move, shoot, and aim with your computer virus, and there really isn’t much more to the combat. There aren’t any dodge mechanics either, and you can only move in patterns in order to avoid damage.
As barebones as the gameplay is, I did appreciate the simplicity. It's refreshing to see a developer stick to the roots of the genre. Too often developers try to be overly clever and introduce needless gameplay mechanics into a game that doesn't need them, forgetting the most important thing in the process: fun.
The simple presentation here provides tonnes of it, nor is it bogged down by having to get to grips with new gameplay mechanics on every stage.
The upgrades found during each run are randomly generated and are unlocked as you progress. They include the ability to alter the shot spray of your weapon, the amount of projectiles you fire, the range of fire, and finally, elements imbued in your shots.
With this also comes a leveling system which provide one of four options, varying from increased speed to extra health. They're cleverly implemented, and added plenty of variety to enemy takedowns.
The number of enemies in each stage vary from fifteen to thirty and have to be found in the different rooms to initiate combat. This might seem like somewhat of a small number, but it does allow for quick, pick-up-and-play run throughs. The enemy designs are also interesting and can be differentiated between types. However, many of them look alike, making it hard to judge attack patterns.
Graphically, the very distinct art style contrasts just a few different colors between black and white borders. The aesthetic is simple and manages to provide the sense of actually being in a hacking program. Unfortunately, the performance did drop for me occasionally in tense firefights causing unnecessary deaths and frustration. Even with the fluid gameplay working well, it was a shame to die just because there was a hitch in the framerate.
Overall, ATOMINE is a solid twin-stick shooter with basic, yet addictive gameplay. The brutal simplicity really made me appreciate what the genre has to offer and lends itself well to quick pick-up-and-play sessions. There are many great twin-stick shooters already available on the Switch and while ATOMINE helps to differentiate itself with a distinct art style and sound combat, there's not a whole lot of reason to keep returning to it.
Pros & Cons
+ Solid gameplay
+ Pure twin-stick shooting fun
+ Clever upgrade system
- Repetitive after a few play throughs
- Boring enemies and attack patterns
- Simplicity hinders the lasting appeal