Game Reviews

Old McDonald’s Nightmare – an Atomicrops Review

Max Linskey June 14, 2020 179

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The sun is just about to set as a diligent farmer returns from the plains, pockets full of seeds, fertilizer, and other treasure to bring back to her farm. She already has a few plants growing, waiting for the fertilizer to grow even further. She bends over and feeds each plant, a wiggling and enlarged potato, now looking at her with mouth open, poking through the ground. She feeds the plants as the last light of day fades away. Now it’s dark and she stands back up to ready her gun, for in the dark, something is always coming for the crop.

Another night in Atomicrops. Get ready to soil your plants!

Atomicrops is my favorite type of game. (For a note, I’ve had this review to write for a week and didn’t want to put the game down to do it.) I’ve played a decent amount of roguelites to know my way around top down shooting. All the fun of getting new guns and upgrades (both temporary and permanent) and avoiding enemy fire as much as possible. Atomicrops takes these common concepts and cross breeds them with a farming simulator, full of sowing, defending, and reaping the crops you plant (that sometimes mutate into bigger plants, more on that later). If you’re looking for a great and challenging time, I recommend picking up Raw Fury’s Atomicrops. 

Atomicrops takes place after an apocalypse of unknown origin. Players take control of one of three survivors tasked with creating, planting, and maintaining a farm to feed the nearby town. Each day consists of the player planting seeds, gathering resources, watering crops, and, when the sun goes down, defending the crops from the nasty bunnies (and slugs and bugs) looking to ruin the farm. Oh, and all the things the player encounters are mutated. Crops have eyes and mouths, and can join together when arranged correctly to mutate further. Winged buffalo and crabs with toxic barrels for shells wander the wildlands outside of the farm (separated by bridges). 

The game has a healthy and fun balance of responsibilities. Planting seeds to reap crops in the ultimate goal, but to get seeds, the player must venture out beyond the farm. To the North, East, South, and West there are different biomes, home to different creatures and seeds from that biome (cabbages are from the Plains to the East and turnips are from the Terratundra in the North). Kill enemies in their camps to collect seeds and other items (like pickaxes to expand farmable land), and bring them back to the farm. Don’t forget fertilizer! Enemies (especially at night) drop fertilizer, an important ingredient to making plants grow as big as possible. When night rolls around, get ready to shoot enemies down as they come from all sides to destroy the farm. Survive the night and hooray! Get ready to do it all again, only a bit more difficult. Before that happens though, stop by the town and stock up on supplies.

A player is constantly shifting gears to make the best farm possible. Clear enemies out of a biome to collect as much as possible, but don’t take too long or the farm will get attacked at night. Spend a day farming as much as possible but risk doing so at the cost of not amassing seeds or other goodies that day. And don’t plant anything too late or it’ll be another day before the plant can grow to full size. 

Part of what makes Atomicrops addictive for me is that it is not easy or forgiving. Slack too much in building defenses and the enemy is going to destroy the player. I have yet to complete a full year in the game (the game has three nights per season, with a boss fight at the end of the third day of each season) and that difficulty is just enough to keep me going. It’s fun to learn how to better manage my time, how to be efficient in going out into the different biomes, and how to arrange plants and defenses to reap the most reward. It could potentially be seen as frustrating, but it is fun and lighthearted enough where I lose and feel like I did better than last time and will do better next time without also feeling defeated.

There is a healthy amount of variety, in the weapons, seeds, enemies, upgrades, and townspeople you can befriend and marry. Of course there’s always room for more because I’m a greedy goblin who likes saying more while rubbing his hands together over a pile of already-collected things. Don’t you judge me.

I hopped into the bullet-hell genre a little late after picking Enter the Gungeon up 2 years after it launched. Not sure what I was waiting for, but since then, I have been trying to scoop up these fun titles when I can. Atomicrops hits that sweet spot of being a bullet-hell and a resource management sim (in the form of farming) that I think would make this a great entry point for anyone who may be interested in bullet hell games but put off by the infinite walls of bullets some might pose. 

Atomicrops is definitely worth checking out, and I give it a 9/10.

By Max

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