Atomicrops PC Review

Atomicrops’ mixture of farming sim, bullet-hell game and rogue-lite make it a compelling indie title that’s well worth giving a shot.

By Woozie, Posted 17 Sep 2020

If Stardew Valley has taught us anything, it’s that the life of a farmer can be peaceful and quaint. There’s something inherently Zen to seeing your crops grow and, ultimately, harvesting them. This, however, doesn’t apply if you’re a post-apocalyptic farmer in Atomicrops, who in between bouts of tilling soil and planting crops has to use makeshift weaponry to keep mutated beasts at bay in bullet-hell-style combat encounters.  Add a dash of rogue-lite and you’ve an intense experience that effortlessly keeps you glued to the screen, offsetting mounting frustration with a short, infectious gameplay loop.

During the day you can plant and grow crops, however, it won’t be long until you learn that it’s usually better to use this time to explore areas adjacent to your farm. These play host to a variety of enemies and, while inherently dangerous, can get you seeds and various items or animal friends to help with farming. Scrolls let you instantly plant crops in all empty slots or fertilize all those already planted; cows help with watering crops faster while chickens deal with the pesky weeds that grow on spots left idle. Finding a Golden Pupa and beating the enemy it spawns lets you grab a powerful tractor that can eradicate enemies in an area or help with watering and fertilizing seeds, albeit on a large cooldown. Killed enemies also drop fertilizer which is useful in the crop growing process. You’ll only ever see a handful of these items during your early runs, discovering new ones and learning how they work being part of why it’s always great to return to the game.

Atomicrops PC Review, Screenshot

Some of these adjacent areas will be accessible right away while others require buying bridge repair kits. You earn these as you survive through Atomicrops’ seasons – made up of three days each – or purchase them – using Cashews earned from selling fully grown crops – back in the village that you’re feeding and which also acts as a hub area. You visit it at the end of each day/night cycle, being the place in which you can also purchase and upgrade weapons or woo characters with roses in exchange for power-ups and, ultimately, their hand in marriage, which sees them joining you on the battlefield. At the end of each season – made up of three days – the mayor will launch a celebration, rewarding you with items based on how many crops you’ve harvested.

The further you stray from your farm, the harder enemies become. These hostile areas usually have similar pockets of enemies that you can engage in such a way as to never fight too many at the same time. Sooner or later, though, you will end up biting more than you can chew, which results in lost hearts and even death. The weapons mentioned above go a long way to countering the different enemy types you face, whether old rabbits chucking bombs or snipers looking to shoot you from afar. The available choices range from shotguns and rifles to miniguns or even flying squirrel launchers. There’s enough variety to keep combat fresh across a long period of time and each weapon feels satisfying to use, especially once you’ve upgraded them.

Atomicrops PC Review, Screenshot

At night, things shift into a different gear as you have to protect your crops. This is also where I did most of the growing and collecting, outside of cases in which I already had too many seeds during the day, that made spending it to plant and harvest them worthwhile in terms of profit. You’ll inevitably have to juggle tilling soil, planting, watering and harvesting crops with avoiding many projectiles and killing enemies that want to eat your lovely harvest. Turrets, scarecrows and farm animals shine here as they provide extra aid in what can become rather hectic fights. That’s because Atomicrops’ combat often takes a bullet hell-like dimension in which swarms of projectiles flood the screen.

It’s easy to get overwhelmed until you get a sense of each enemy type to prioritize and how Atomicrops’ mutated bosses work. While you don’t have to kill most bosses per se, depleting their health bar always feels like a triumph, particularly because you’re surviving not just their attack patterns but also the regular enemies’ which don’t stop their onslaught. Each aspect of Atomicrops’ gameplay loop only takes a few minutes to complete, this emphasis on speed keeping boredom and frustration at bay while also being accessible when you want to dip in for only a short play session.

Atomicrops PC Review, Screenshot

But what about farming itself? It all begins with a humble 3x3 patch of land that you can expand using Earthquake scrolls and pickaxes. First you till the soil, then plant your seeds which must be fertilized and watered in order to grow. Different crops require varying amounts of time and water to grow. A good few of the items you can obtain help with growing crops instantly or faster during the night, encourage planting the same type of crop next to each other, or prolong the day as you plant seeds. Watering plants is done automatically, as long as you get close to the well to refill every now and then, and the long range it can be performed at stops it from ever becoming a hindrance. It’s not all fun and games, though, as weeds grow on idle slots, requiring you to clear them before planting. Especially in the midst of combat, these can be the causes of losing a good few lives. The same can be said about larger farms that make it easy to lose your character among their crops.

The constant trickle of new items and their randomized nature do a great job of keeping Atomicrops playthroughs fresh. Furthermore, beating a set of five seasons, unlocks subsequent years which acts as Atomicrops’ difficulty modes. There are ten in total and each one requires you to adapt once again to enemies that were previously familiar, since they gain increased movement and attack speed or fire more projectiles with each attack. Reaching year 10 tests to not just a player’s patience, but also their understanding of how to make the best use of the items that they’re given as well as which ones to prioritize when they get a choice.

Atomicrops PC Review, Screenshot

Atomicrops’ wacky tone courses through both visuals – including overall style and enemy design –  but also its soundtrack which, sadly, can get a little repetitive a bit soon. Items, weapons and powerups also begin to repeat as you put more hours into the game but this never becomes bothersome because of how well it’s all paced.  Neither of its elements could stand on its own, but Atomicrops’ mixture of farming sim, bullet-hell game and rogue-lite make it a compelling indie title that’s well worth giving a shot.

Bogdan Robert,
Senior Editor, NoobFeed
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General Information

Atomicrops

80/100

Platform(s): Xbox One, PS4, Switch, PC
Publisher(s): Raw Fury
Developer(s): Bird Bath Games
Genres: Action, Rogue-lite, Farming
Themes: Post-apocalyptic
Release Date: 2020-09-17 (Steam)

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