Atlas Fallen review – a game built on sand

Review Information

Platform reviewed: PS5
Available on: PS5, Xbox Series X|S, PC
Release date: August 10, 2023

The traversal in Atlas Fallen is one of the best in years. Skimming and gliding across its vast sandy landscapes with supreme elegance, ease, and smoothness is a mastery that’s a joy to control, while airborne dashes and double-jumps make crossing chasms and cliffs a breeze. However, while getting around is undoubtedly the highlight, the rest of the game fails to offer a similar high, with wooden characters, a disappointing narrative, and complicated combat letting it down.

Atlas Fallen is also a ‘Soulslite’. Souls-ish staples like respawning enemies, a rechargeable Estus flask-style healing idol, Bonfire-alikes to save or upgrade your gear, and challenging (but not brutal) encounters, will make it feel like a Soulslike, but in reality, it’s more than that. However, at its core, this is much more of an action-adventure game and when you look at all its parts holistically, certainly doesn’t feel like the genre it’s aping in play. It is, however, a fun entry into the RPG and open-world fantasy libraries despite its lack of polish in places. 

Sandscapes and sand surfing

Sand surfing character in Atlas Fallen

(Image credit: Deck13/Focus Entertainment)

Taking place in a fantasy world that’s unbelievably sandy, Atlas Fallen opens by going through some typical tutorial motions – a dream sequence teaching you basic combat and movement, and setting up the story in a nomad camp, complete with some character customization to make your avatar, in the middle of nowhere – before unleashing you into the world, and its best bits. However, like the wider story, the setup of the narrative is a well-trodden one: your character of lowly origins has a magical dream and finds a magical item to begin a kinship with a mysterious being and can begin to wield powers through the discovery of a powerful, but incomplete, gauntlet. 

That world is made up of four main maps or areas, each with a central hub or settlement, expansive landscapes to travel across – and plenty of sand to shoot across. Each area and environment is worthy of the exploration time you’ll need to find all of the open-world game in 2023 trappings, featuring collectibles like lore, treasure, puzzles, and secrets. The benefit of taking the time to investigate the landscape is that you’ll also immerse yourself in some beautiful landscape spots and enjoy some fine vistas – from old decrepit ruins, sand-eroded caves, and expansive dunes or woodland.

A landscape vista from Atlas Fallen

(Image credit: Deck13/Focus Entertainment)

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This post originally appeared on TechToday.