- Developer: Bird Bath Games
- Publisher: Raw Fury
- Release Date: 28/05/2020
- Price: £13.49 / $14.99
- Review code provided by Raw Fury
Introducing: Atomicrops Review on Nintendo Switch
Farm, Marry, Kill
Atomicrops is the latest harvest in the farming game genre, although it’s been growing in early access since September last year. Finally the full release is out and on the Nintendo Switch. In it you start to live your dream farm life where nothing bad ever happens. Until the nuclear apocalypse of course. Now you must protect your GMO crops from mutant creatures in order to feed the town.
Hybrid Crops Now Breed
This game is a mash up between genres: part farming simulation, largely twin stick shooter and all roguelite.
The combination between farming and shooting works very well in tandem. In order to farm you need to explore the outer areas and shoot at enemy camps, who may be holding seeds, items, fertilizer inside their guts or a valuable tractor. At night you’ll need to return to the farm to defend your crops from waves of attacks. Often you’ll be farming and shooting at the same time making sure the land is tilled, sown and watered. Thankfully watering is automatic so long as you’re holding some and standing close enough. Once the cycle is over (roughly a six minute period) you’ll be brought into town to catch your breath. This is where you can save and exit the game as trying to leave outside of that will destroy your progress.
Any crops you’ve harvested beforehand will be turned into money. This can then be spent in town on new guns (that will last only a day with an exception), bridge pieces to explore further areas, seeds and other items. Any roses you grow will not be converted into money as they’re a separate currency that can be spent at the doctor’s or on some potential spouses. Exchanging roses to flirt with whichever two are out that day, you will be given an item in return though that also changes each day (annoying if you see the next item and can’t afford it). Give enough roses to a single person and you can marry them, each one serving a different purpose. Such as Rue who will follow when you leave the farm and attack enemies. I believe you can marry more than one spouse but I’ve yet to be lucky enough to try. Beyond some pick up lines when you flirt there’s not much romance here.
Each season is three days, on the final day a boss will appear fighting you on your farm. Once you return to town that day all the crops from the season will be tallied up to give you different rewards. Do well enough and you’ll earn cornucopias which are used in the permanent progression system. On this festival day you’ll have access to a couple more shops as well.
A Multitude of Options
Farm animals can be gained like cows that water your crops or chickens who lay eggs to sell. There are many kinds of items like scarecrows or turrets that defend your crops. Though sometimes you may accidentally take them out of the ground which is annoying. Pigeons scrolls can expand your land or give you a rain cloud when used (among others). When exploring they’ll be mushrooms that work as temporary power-ups. There’s quite a lot of items some often powering up other things you have (or don’t have yet), or a shield that activates when watering crops. Sadly when in the heat of fire it may be hard to choose what item you want since you’re trying to read and dodge projectiles. Once acquired you can read them in your inventory menu, and they do all have different appearances but while you’re learning it’s quite irksome. Of the three kinds of tractors one can be used as a weapon (though they are all on a cool-down). The West and East sides are open from the start but you’ll need bridge pieces to go the other more difficult directions. With more you can go further into these areas like the desert where the oil barrel hermit crabs become jerry can crabs. The camps and items inside will be randomized per run as will whats in store each day which is fine except when there’s no good weapons on a boss day.
Another thing you might find is one of the ants. As a rougelite whenever you die you’ll lose all your progress and have to start again. Which paired with the randomization can be a little heartbreaking when you gain a worm friend and horsie then immediately lose them and have to walk to like a chump. BUT the ants you rescue and cornucopias will stay on your farmstead, which is the area between runs. Here you can spend cornucopias on permanent upgrades such as an increase to stats or the effectiveness of scroll pigeons.
You can submit local run scores with text and online leaderboards are coming soon. So I often took turns with my boyfriend so that way our slow progression towards a successful run was a bit more fun. Completing a year takes around an hour although even the most skilled shooters won’t have their farming and time management skills up to speed on their first attempts. Fortunately there are additional “years” which up the combat difficulty, there are at least ten (I don’t think I’ll ever reach that high). Other achievements exist to give you something else to do but they might require their own dedicated runs in order to harvest 144 potatoes in ten seconds or the like. The more successes you have the better the farmstead will look (mine isn’t looking too hot that’s for sure). At the start you can only play as Lavender who comes with a farming advantage but two more characters can be unlocked such as one that’s more combat ready.
The Potatoes Have Eyes
Atomicrops has a lovely well detailed toony pixel art style. The mutated crops and enemies are all expressive, so too is the player character. My favourite designs are some of the spouses, and the aforementioned hermit crabs. There’s a small selection of tunes that help you know what time of day it is but even the humming at night is yet to be bothersome.
Unfortunately the Switch version has occasional stuttering throughout the game, even in the farmstead. It’s a little worse in handheld. There’s also loading screens between the start and end of days with the loading of a new day usually taking thirty seconds. This is a fairly annoying especially since most days are just over six minutes. Rarely I’ve had a bit of an issue with hitbox detection usually with bullets but once I went straight through a rabbit bandit (when touching enemies normally deals damage). On the Switch choosing what tiles to hit on the farm can be a bit trickier (you use the right stick) but aiming is mostly fine with the exception of some long range weapons.
As someone who never plays twin stick shooters or action based roguelites I had a pretty good time with this game. It makes me wish other farming games with combat had it as good as this. The mostly quick pace of the game, various amount of possible upgrades to find and fun combat meant failure wasn’t completely heartbreaking. Ignoring the grief I still feel over my little horse. Permanent progression also goes a long way to making it feel more meaningful while I compete in my own household for better scores. Even for those who are more used to action roguelites there are various increasing difficulties for those that crave the challenge. The loading times and slight performance issues are really all that lets this game down.
- Expressive detailed pixel art
- Fun combination between genres creating a feedback loop
- Good variety of items to make playthroughs unique
- Frame stuttering causes trouble in combat
- Loading times drag the pace down
- Hard to read item descriptions while avoiding enemy fire
Just like Tomacco, you wouldn’t think the combination that creates Atomicrops works, but they do. Just like Tomacco it’s deliciously moreish*…
4/5*Nintendad doesn’t endorse the consumption of Tomacco, Tomatoes or Tobacco