Atlas Fallen can’t quite get into an entertaining groove despite some smart ideas

I always appreciate the drive and desire to build a brand new IP.

In this market, it’s harder than ever, but equally it’s important for the development and growth of this industry. The desire to create sequel after sequel to a proven hit is hard to shy away from, but without new ideas, things will dry up fast.

So I come into Atlas Fallen with an appreciation for Deck 13’s intent. They’ve got some great ideas, an intriguing concept and clearly want to do something different..

But sometimes the best intent in the world just isn’t enough. And Atlas Fallen isn’t really interesting or engaging enough to sustain your interest for long enough to stick around. If combat frustrations don’t put you off – even on the lowest difficulty – the game’s story will send you packing.

The dialogue feels wooden, the world feels stunted and desolate, and the beats feel like they’re rehashed from a bunch of other games I’ve played over the last few years.

And going back to the combat, it’s hyper frustrating with continuous respawning adds, the weird sandskin defense mechanic, which I found quite hit and miss, and the damage these enemies deal and take on just never felt particularly balanced.

I really wanted to enjoy Atlas Fallen, especially as the sand surfing is a super cool, satisfying feature, but I barely felt connected to the game at any point. In such a competitive gaming landscape, it doesn’t do anything to stand out and all just sort of feels a bit dull.

Objectives aren’t always clear which leads to you roaming around the map a bit aimlessly, and just as I get to some of its more interesting elements, such as fusing and activating / switching out bonuses as you build up momentum, I end up getting frustrated by something else or switching off entirely.

But yes, Atlas Fallen does have some smart ideas. As mentioned, you can switch out bonuses with essence stones within a tier system which really keeps you ahead in combat, gradually unlocking features like improved strength, greater evasion, or more momentum-centered bonuses. I absolutely love the idea and think it does a clever job of keeping action fresh.

By also finding cores within the world and purchasing them from merchants, you can also craft unique stones which tailor more to your playstyle by dropping by the random anvils that are situated through the world.

And additionally, there’s a massive co-op feature which lets you play together from the beginning, using gauntlets to rise chests and pillars from out of the sand, gliding through the skies and across the sands. This probably explains some of the game’s challenging combat sequences when trying to tackle it all alone.

Unsurprisingly, it helps massively when trying to get through trickier sections and completely changes the game when you’ve got an ally to get you through the, at times, overwhelming odds.

There’s a sense that Deck 13 are on the verge of a brilliant idea with this one. A bit more polish and balancing here and there, with perhaps another go-through of the story, could have made this a very changed proposition.

It’s a title that, at times, feels a bit too anchored to the past. Those PS2/3 era action adventures that never quite got all their ducks in a row but offered some entertaining moments that make you think about what could have been. Coming good a bit too late for the game to be considered a success.

The story feels so very familiar, the structure has been done so much better by so many other games, but there are smart, clever ideas here that do eventually come together and can make this an enjoyable experience.

It’s hard not to compare this to the incredible quality we’ve had in abundance in 2023, and maybe in some other year Atlas Fallen might have fared better. But as much as I wished I could, I just couldn’t get into the game, even though Deck 13 are clearly close to a breakthrough moment. The Surge remains their coup-de-gras. At least for now.


Atlas Fallen toys with some clever ideas and comes close to making a breakthrough on a few of them, but between its dull story, characters, world, and frustrating, unbalanced combat, the game just can’t achieve its true potential. The full campaign co-op seperates it from other titles and can alleviate some of the frustrations but the good elements just take too long to get rolling and aren’t quite interesting enough to help you stick around. 


+ Full co-op means you can play the campaign through in full with a bud
+ Some smart ideas, such as fusing and momentum bonuses are really clever and work well
+ At times, it’s quite beautiful


– Combat just ultimately feels unbalanced and frustrating despite its scale and ambition
– Story and dialogue feels quite wooden and forgettable
– Core loop plays out similar to many other games which do it much better

Atlas Fallen is out now on PC, Xbox, and PlayStation 

Code Kindly Provided by Focus Home for review purposes

Played on Xbox Series X

About the author

Sam Diglett

Sam grew up with a PS2, spending hours howling at the moon in Okami and giving students wedgies in Bully. Fortunately, she also likes Pokemon because otherwise life could have been quite annoying for her.
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