Atomic Heist is a twin stick, rogue-like shooter with procedurally generated levels. After an alien race invade and attack a station, taking its atomic core; it’s your job to carry out a heist to recover this core before the station is locked down.
After pressing ‘start’ initially you will be taken to a hub area where you get a small tutorial and take the core before moving into the main game itself. While in this hub area you enable your HUD or can select a different power-up instead of having a HUD. A pad on the right side takes you to a daily run with a preset. There is also a console which allows you to change your ship, equip upgrades for the ship (the amount you can have on depends what you take) and select different reticles and avatars. More customisation and upgrades are unlocked by levelling up, which is done just by playing through the game.
The levels are procedurally generated so every time you die or load up the game again your playthrough will be different compared to the last. The visual design of the station stays the same so despite the fact the layout is different the look and section of the station you’re in will remain the same. As you progress through levels the environment changes to reflect that you’re in a different part of the station but the enemy design remains largely the same. Combined with the daily modes the game has a lot of replay value since the level design stays fresh each time.
Throughout the levels various enemies and environmental hazards will try to stop you from progressing. Enemies have various methods of attack, ammo types and resistances to the ammo you’re using depending on the enemy type so it’s important to consider what you’re up against before each engagement. Usually twin-stick shooters are fairly fast paced but Atomic Heist definitely has to be taken slowly or you’ll be swiftly killed since even the weaker enemies can take massive chunks of health away in a single attack. You can’t be too slow, however over time you’ll accumulate radiation which has to be removed via pick-ups or finding scrubbers around the level.
Progressing through levels relies almost entirely on power-ups. Smaller power ups are basic things such as faster rate of fire or more damage on the currently equipped ammo type. Larger power ups can be earned by clearing all the enemies out of the prior level which unlocks a panel in the next to select one of three power ups from. These larger power ups offer significant upgrades but trade something else in return. For example: you could get an upgrade that lets you do 20% more damage but at the cost of floor fires doing damage to you and that sort of thing. Considering what you already have and what would help cover the weakness you gain from your last pick up is the key to surviving alongside taking the game slow.
Atomic Heist’s weakest points are in its audio and visuals. While the visuals aren’t necessarily bad they feel overly simple and uninteresting, leaving most of the enjoyment from actually playing the levels to come from the procedural generation. Audio also suffers the same, having basic sound effects to differentiate between ammo types and music which doesn’t add much to the experience overall.