Review: ATOMINE (Switch)

An interesting take on familiar elements.

By Andy Hoover. Posted 06/21/2018 08:15 Comment on this     ShareThis
The Final Grade
grade/score info
1-Up Mushroom for...
Solid mix of rogue-like and twin-stick elements; interesting premise; nice visual design.
Poison Mushroom for...
Occasional technical issues; some cheap moments thanks to procedural generation; never really rises to greatness.

ATOMINE is a twin-stick rogue-like shooter and, as a twin-stick rogue-like shooter, it succeeds in being a twin-stick rogue-like shooter. If that’s the sort of thing you’re into then that’s probably all you need to know and you should check it out. For the rest of you, there are few more things worth mentioning.

The game sets up a pretty interesting premise that takes advantage of the rogue-like systems. You play as a computer virus designed to hack into a thoroughly defended system by constantly adapting after each effort so you can hopefully penetrate further the next time around. In terms of the game, this plays into the progression system. While dying sends you back to the beginning of the game, as is normal with the genre, each failed effort unlocks new modules that can be randomly accessed in each stage and allow you to customize your virus or give it other perks. Furthermore, your efforts gain additional experience that unlocks new versions of the virus which feature unique stats and weapons types which give you even more options for playing the game according to your own tastes.

While the concept and customization options are somewhat unique, the core gameplay is very familiar. Like I said, it’s a twin-stick shooter through and through. This doesn’t mean it’s bad though; in fact, the mechanics are perfectly solid. All the weapons have their own feel and the different speed and health stats of different versions legitimately encourage you to adopt different approaches. Even then, none of it is particularly innovative or exceptional.

Another good aspect of the game is how it handles enemies. Delving deeper into the game reveals new enemies and there is a surprisingly large selection of foes you could potentially run into, and the randomized nature in which they are encountered meant I was still encountering new baddies even with several hours under my belt. The fact that most enemies have unique attacks and movement routines is also a nice bonus. However, the foes do present a couple issues: some don’t feel particularly balanced depending on when they show up in a run and they can sometimes spawn in directly on top of you which can result in some really cheap and frustrating hits. Bosses are also included after every few stages, and while they aren’t really memorable, they get the job done.

Given the concept, it should come as no surprise that ATOMINE goes for a very digital look and sound. The electronic music is effective but generic, so while you might not complain about it, there’s a decent chance you’ll wind up forgetting it the second you turn the game off. The visuals fare better with a clean aesthetic that favors simple colors and lots of flat surfaces alongside wire frame designs. Different enemy types can sometimes look a little too much alike, but others are rather distinct and all ultimately match the overall design the developers were aiming for. Unfortunately, these visual efforts are somewhat hampered by the occasional performance hiccup, though these issues were never severe enough to have an impact on gameplay that rose above the level of ‘merely annoying’.

Taken as a whole, ATOMINE largely succeeds at what it is trying to accomplish; the game simply wants to be a solid twin-stick shooter with rogue-like elements and it fulfills that goal precisely. Of course, this means the game never really rises to greatness and is unlikely to be all that appealing to those looking for a more innovative or compelling experience. Regardless, if you have a love for this type of game, or at least a momentary lust, then ATOMINE should be a perfectly suitable way to fulfill those desires.

Nintendojo was provided a copy of this game for review by a third party, though that does not affect our recommendation. For every review, Nintendojo uses a standard criteria.

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