I’ve always had love for games that have refused to be categorized. Games like Mr Mosquito and Gregory Horror Show were cheap enough to make 15 years ago and more, and it didn’t really matter that they’d never attain mainstream success, because they weren’t meant to. Increasingly, video game budgets can stray into the hundreds of millions, and the idea of making a game a little left-field is an intimidating prospect for any company.
This is where indie gaming excels. Smaller teams, costs and scope all mean that indie developers can make the games that they want to make, and this brings us to Atomicrops. Atomicrops describes itself as an action roguelite farming simulator, though I feel this does not do it justice.
In Atomicrops, you take the role of someone who has just inherited a farm, which then is caught in the middle of a nuclear blast. The world is now post-apocalypse, and radioactive nasties roam in the wasteland. As the only farm in the area, it is your job to plant genetically modified crops, which you can then sell to the local village. However, every night brings new waves of radioactive beasts, which you’ll need to repel if you want to keep your GMO crops uneaten.
It’s certainly a unique setup for a game. As you can imagine, Atomicrops sees you inherit a farm in a Stardew Valley style to start with, giving you just a plot of land and a handful of seeds. Plant those seeds, provide them with water and watch them grow. You’ll be attacked during your day-to-day farming, but it’s when the sun goes down that it really kicks off.
You’re faced with three waves of creatures to battle against who will chow down on your crops should they get too close. Defeat the enemies and should your crops grow, you can pluck them out of the ground. Each morning you’ll have the chance to return to town, where these crops will be sold and you can buy more seeds, weapons or upgrades.
To describe the actual gameplay, it is reminiscent of a twin-stick shooter, only with a keyboard and mouse. WASD moves your character around the playspace, while the mouse aims your gun, with left click allowing you to fire. The game does have controller support, but personally, the keyboard and mouse setup feels the most natural for the playstyle. The gameplay looks a little similar to the style of The Binding of Isaac, but it feels much more fluid.
Once you have been killed, it’s game over, time to start again, so it really is the sort of game that builds up and up, and I can imagine that as your farm grows in size, so too does the difficulty. Enemies take the form of mutated versions of animals, from bees, to rabbits, to slugs; many enemies also return fire at you, too. This can get rather tricky during boss or heavier waves, with the levels almost turning the game into a bullet-hell style shooter.
What really makes Atomicrops stand out is the presentation. Despite the fact that the game centers around a nuclear apocalypse, it’s all rather colourful and cutesy. The graphics are chunky post-16 bit graphical sprites and look absolutely wonderful. To top it all off, Atomicrops is all wrapped up in a basic, but charming, soundtrack.
Unfortunately there is little content in Atomicrops right now, but then again it has only just launched into early access. If this game tickles your genetically modified pickle, it can only be found on the Epic Game Store.
Atomicrops is available in early access now and costs £11.99/$14.99. Preview code supplied by PR.
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