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Everything we know about Atlas Fallen

The ambitious adventure game arrives soon.

The sands of the earth are the real time travelers of our world. Every grain was once part of something, worn away by whipping winds and roaring seas. The sands are home to many a mystery and have been seen with fascinations throughout civilizations. There is life and death in the sands. Tales of oasis and monstrosity. The sands hold a meaning and Atlas Fallen is looking to unveil hat story.

Stories set within arid desert climates are nothing new as they have been told through decades. Stories of Aladdin and Prince of Persia were inspired by the setting, and made an impression on players. Such a setting has been rare in an age of live-service titles and roguelikes. Deck 13, who have proven to have a penchant for sci-fi and fantasy, now takes a deep dive into the sands with their latest outing, Atlas Fallen. With the game releasing August 10, here is everything we know about Atlas Fallen.


A new adventure

Atlas Fallen was announced in 2022 with a breathtaking trailer. The announcement is accompanied by ambitious features and a unique world. Stylistic combat is shown and gargantuan beasts wage destruction across the land. The protagonist surfs along the sand like gliding across a body of water. The trailer was met with positive praise and ambition as it set itself apart from other contender in the action genre. The team behind the game are seasoned developers that have dabbed in the likes of science fiction and fantasy. With Atlas Fallen, the team is going into a supernatural setting very much attune dto the likes of Arabian Nights.

Deck 13 Interactive is a German based studio formed in 2001, originally under the name Triggerlab. The goal was to create unique gameplay experiences that were unconventional and rewarding to the player. The studio made its mark with the tactical shooter, Stealth Combat: Ultimate War. The game fell in line with various other games, with its near-future military setting and focus on vehicles. Following this release, the studio renamed to Deck 13. The name is inspired by a map from multiplayer shooter Unreal Tournament.


Humble beginnings

The icon of Deck 13 envisions a Colonial-Era ship breaching the water nd setting sail. This represents a metaphor for the studio as they sought to make games that weren’t of the conventional variety. Around the time of their first game, the 6th generation of consoles were in full swing. Sony PlayStation dropped the black box with their PlayStation 2. Microsoft made their maiden voyage into the video game console market with Xbox. Nintendo would squarely focus on games and introduce the Nintendo Gamecube. For Deck 13, this created a vast opportunity to introduce new titles to the gaming world.

Deck 13 made a significant impact in the PC gaming world with Ankh. Ankh is a remake of the 1998 original graphic adventure Ankh: The Tales of Mystery. The remake was built from the ground up with a new presentation but a gameplay style that remains faithful to the original. Creative Director Jan Klose cited the Monkey Island games as a huge inspiration for this pursuit. Ankh is a point-and-click adventure that has players using every tool in their environment to break a curse that will kill them in less than 24 hours.


A Trip into Ancient History

The Ankh games were released exclusively for PC, never seeing a release on other systems. The first Ankh game would receive a port for the Nintendo DS sometime later. Despite being released to a niche audience, the game went on to sell well. In a review in 2006, Gamespot’s Brett Todd would give the game a positive review. “Lighthearted, kid-friendly romp that provides more than a few laughs while leaving your brain cells relatively untaxed,” Brett would say in his 7.3/10 review. The studio would release one more point-and-click in the swashbuckling point-and-click, Jean Keane, which adhered closer to the Monkey Island inspirations.

Video games were changing rapidly. The sixth generation of consoles were ending, and the seventh generation were on their way. This new generation would launch with a bang, with the likes of Gears of War 2, Halo 3, and Call of Duty 04: Modern Warfare launching within months of each other. Online gaming was coming to the masses and Nintendo was about to conquer the world with its Nintendo Wii in 2006. Deck 13 had to adapt and sharpen its toolset.


Death’s embrace

Deck 13 would branch out to consoles with action role-playing game Venetica. Venetica was released for Microsoft Windows in September of 2009, with ports to PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360 later in 2009 and 2010. The game focused on the protagonist, Scarlett, who survives a brutal attack on her village and discovers she is the daughter of Death itself. In order to stop a ruthless gang of supernatural assassins, Death unleashes the supernatural powers within Scarlett, beginning a quest that will bring her through the light and the dark. The game combines traditional action with supernatural elements. The game puts players on a globe-trotting adventure as players track down the assassins and end the existential threat to the world.

At the time of its release, around 40 developers were employed at Deck 13. This was the team’s first foray into such a type of game. The reception was mixed, with praise for the visual presentational and story but also criticized for lack of development for the protagonist, as well as technical issues. There was empathy as the small team had dared to do something different and made achievements with Venetica. Venetica. At the time, the genre was dominated by conventional protagonists, with most being male. Venetica was a different kind of hero, with a very different kind of setting. While the technical issues were stifling, there was a game that could be enjoyed if one tempered their expectations. IGN’s Kristine Steimer, in her 6/10 review, said ”This is one of those games that falls under the ‘so bad it’s sort of good’ category.”


A new decade

By 2010, the seventh generation of game consoles were in the halfway point. The year 2010 was an undeniably legendary year, with the likes of Red Dead Redemption, Split/Second, Alan Wake, Blur, Modnation Racers, and Transformers: War for Cybertron releasing within weeks of each other. EA’s Battlefield: Bad Company 2 rocked the socks off players that Spring. That Fall, players fought The Covenant one last time with Halo: Reach, fought terrorists in Medal of Honor, and fought communists in Call of Duty: Black Ops. For Nintendo fans, the Nintendo 3DS was announced and Xenoblade Chronicles was available for Wii. For a studio like Deck 13, it was hard to stand out.

The years saw Deck 13 go through highs and lows. Black Sails: The Ghost Ship was described as an interactive thriller with a focus on investigative gameplay. The game was launched for an incredibly niche market on PC in Europe, but was praised for being a fresh take on the genre. The studio released the isometric co-op action game, Blood Knights, which was met with poor reception for its unchallenging gameplay, though saved for its couch co-cop feature. Deck 13 may have struggled for a time, but the best days were yet to come.


Darkest before the dawn

The year was 2013. It was a tumultuous year. The year saw the likes of Sleeping Dogs, Transformers: Fall of Cybertron, and Far Cry 3: Blood Dragon. Games of gargantuan heights broke the heavens, such as Bioshock: Infinite and Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance. This was met with devastating disasters, such as Aliens: Colonial Marines. In the maelstrom of games, Sony and Microsoft unveiled the eighth generation of consoles. At a history making E3, Microsoft announced the Xbox One while Sony unveiled the PlayStation 4. At the end, Sony would begin the grandest console generations in its history while Microsoft made regrettable decisions that continue to have negative impact to this day.

For Deck 13, their moment had arrived. After decades of hard work, struggle, and forging their own identity, the team would spearhead into the newest console generation in an unprecedented way. In 2014, as the Dark Souls series defined the genre of Souls-like, a special game would arrive to bring forth a new experience. This particular game would be inspired by those before it, but cut its own cloth. On October 28, 2014, Lords of the Fallen arrived.


One shall rise. One shall fall

With a familiar setting, Lords of the Fallen certainly had the look of the current trend. A darker fantasy, where one man fights, suffers, and fights again to eliminate monstrous foes. The trailer showes the familiar gaming formula of fighting a boss, losing, and facing that same boss again and again until the boss is slain. Each time, players get stronger in their skill and armament. Lord of the Fallen is more of a hack-and-slash game but bears heavy inspirations from the Souls-genre.

The story focuses on Harkyn. In a land of magic and gods, a sinister force enter the world. Adyr, a tyrannical made God, flood the land with monsters and evil, punishing all for the most trivial of crimes. Jarkyn is released from prison by a monk by the name of Koslo. Using his might and power, he sets across the mountains, dispelling this evil army in a formidable showdown with Adyr.


Adapt and win

The familiar ebb and flow is present. Players fight various monstrosities to rid the land of evil and proceed towards a final goal. You choose multiple classes with magic and have various options form weapons to armor. Players can combine brawling magic with a warrior set to become specifically skilled in close-range melee combat. Alternatively, solace magic can be combined with a warrior set to create a Paladin configuration for capable melee attacks but stronger magic abilities.

The biggest draw to Lords of the Fallen is the risk and reward system. During play, an XP multiplier builds. This is depending on the player’s combos with the attack system, but it also builds the longer players go without a checkpoint. Once reaching a checkpoint, the multiplier resets to zero. This encourages players to learn combat and resources well. The higher the multiplier, the higher the reward. His encouraged players to brave the elements for long durations to gain more XP. If downed, they may retrieve their spoils again, but if downed again, it is lost for good.


A moment On top of the world

There are times that it pays to be int he right place at the right time. Lords of the Fallen made a significant impact when it launched in 2014. The game would receive strong praises. Philip Kolar of Polygon had strong praises for Lords of The Fallen stated “far from perfect, but it is a worthy reproduction of everything that has brought hard games back into style. “The game would sell close to one million units during its lifetime. After many years and development difficulties, a sequel is slated for release this coming October 2023 from an internal studio at City Interactive.

After conquering fantasy, Deck 13 Interactive found itself in a new global spotlight. A relatively small team from Germany created an engaging game and players sought the follow up. While Lords of the Fallen would go on a separate path, the team set sights on their next game. Deck 13 left the realms of fantasy and entered the ideas of dystopian science fiction. Using everything they learned, the team developed an ambitious sci-fi action game that put the Souls-like genre into a realm of robotics and cybernetics.


Reject flesh. Embrace steel

The Surge launched on May 16, 2017, riding the wake of Nier: Automata and The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild. Taking the rules established in Lords of the Fallen, the team designed a Souls-like in a dystopian future in which exo-suits are necessary for survival. Players take on the role as Warren, a a new worker at an ambitious technology company. As the protagonist undergoes a neurologic procedure with his exosuit, an attack occurs. Robotic drones and machines turn on their human creators and Warren fights for survival. With a cutting edge exo-suit, Warren sets out to discover the source of this new threat.

Accordingly, The Surge was another bright spot for Deck 13. The team had succeeded in creating a unique and original game, even if the gameplay was inspired by a trending gameplay type. The uniqueness in The Surge is in that the gameplay allowed for targeting specific body types. Players could use their exosuit and target their enemy in parts. Legs, arms, weapons systems, could all be targeted. Focusing on a specific spot could be advantageous to players, especially during more challenging enemies. This is akin to the “strategic dismemberment” system seen in horror adventure Dead Space.


Evolve the future

Subsequently, The Surge was met with positive praise for its world and gameplay. By 2017, Dark Souls III has been out a year, ad the genre started to meander. The combat was seen as a significant divergence from he established Souls formula. Focusing on parts and the overall mechanics gave the player immense power. Jon Ryan of IGN stated “The Surge makes good use of its detailed sci-fi setting and provides an engaging experience throughout the 30 to 40-hour campaign, mostly thanks to its widely customizable inventory and wickedly fun combat system.”

Following The Surge, a sequel titled The Surge 2, was released in September of 2019. The sequel built upon the foundations of the original with a more ambitious story and combat system. The game faced competition from Borderlands 3 and The Spyro Triology. The game was met with solid praise for its efforts and building on the foundations of its predecessor. Deck 13 would also expand into becoming not just a developer but also a publisher.


Lending a hand

Deck 13 began publishing smaller, lesser-known titles in 2015. The company struck a big impact with the top-down action RPG Crosscode. Developed by Radical Fish Games, Crosscode made an extraordinary splash on the indie gaming scene. Crosscode put players into a fictional game world as a mute cybernetic hero, lea. The game was reviewed positively, with PC Gamer’s Felix Shcultz saying Crosscode “awakens wonderful memories of 16-bit classics such as Chrono TriggerSecret of Mana or Terranigma at first glance.”

The year 2022 would see Deck 13 branch into publishing small games with big impacts. Lunistice is a platformer adventure where players plays as an anthropomorphic Tanuki. The game is reminiscent of the games from the SEGA Saturn and PlayStation era of platformers. The game became a positive hit, with Mitch Vogel of Nintendo Life calling it ” an exhilarating 32-bit Sonic that never was.” The tail end of 2022 saw the release of Chained Echoes, a 16-bit RPG for the modern era that has gone on to receive universal acclaim.


The sands reveal all

Following the release of The Surge 2, the world changed. 2020 saw a global pandemic, and the fabric of games tested. As players remained in Lockdown, the desire to connect and embark on adventure grew. A lens was put on gaming that allowed players and non-players to better understand what drew so may into video games. While the variety of games have been abundant, they would fall into a concrete familiarity. Military or contemporary settings were common, as well as Games As A Service models. For Deck 13, the time had come to be different.

During the turbulent times, French-based publisher Focus Interactive acquired Deck 13. Formerly Focus Home Interactive, the publisher has made strides in publishing games from across Europe. Focus Interactive acquired Deck 13 in 2020 and ramped up development of their latest game. At PAX East in 2023, Focus Home presented a strong portfolio of games, from Aliens: Dark Descent to Warhammer 40,000: Boltgun. One of the strongest standouts was a game called Atlas Fallen.


Attack and dethrone God

” We were inspired by Dune and Arabian Nights. We wanted to tell a story within the desert with respet to history as well,” A developer mentioned a the booth. When I grabbed the controller and aw the world, I was immediately reminded of the fantasy portrayed in classics such as Prince of Persia. Wowed at the visual fidelity on display, I took a moment to acclimate myself to a world I hadn’t seen before, let alone in a very long time.

Atlas Fallen felt like a world pulled straight from a dream. A fluid dimension of sand and Earth. A malevolent Sun God oversees all. Monsters roam the land. The people are in peril. there is a surreal look and feel to what is around you. The world is under what can only be described as a beautiful chaos as leviathans roam aimlessly but people try and survive. My time with the game was focused on a smaller area, with the goal of getting an idea for the ebb and flow.


Can’t stop, Won’t stop

Atlas Fallen intrigues with its premise. The land of Atlas rules under a tyrannical Sun God that sees humans as nothing more than expendable playthings. The Sun God is known as Thelos and believes in an unbreakable law that Gods punish and control humans. An Unnamed person, making their way in this unforgiving land, come across a unique Gauntlet. This Gauntlet has no name but it wields a special power called Essence. This weapon strikes fear into the Sun God as it’s humanities best hope for liberation.

At its core, Atlas Fallen is all about combat. The Gauntlet is the primary weapon and tool, akin to Kratos’ Blades of Chaos in the earlier God of War games. The Gauntlet can be sued for attack and defense. However, Atlas Fallen does something very different;. instead of focusing on the weapon itself, the game focuses squarely on a technique. It’s a trait other games share but never highlight. That technique is momentum.


A thought In each step

Scientifically, momentum is the quality of motion in an object, measured as a product of its mass and velocity. Momentum depends on the size and weight of an object. In Atlas Fallen, momentum takes on a different meaning. Momentum means landing continuous blows on an enemy, and therefore being able to unleash deadly attacks. The longer the momentum builds, the better the attack. However, there is a tradeoff. The higher the bar, the more vulnerable players are to damage.

My time with the game demonstrated travel and combat. One of the first big moments was traveling across the sand. The Unnamed can surf across the sand dune like a surfer in a gorgeous ocean. This way of traversal is fast, fluid, and is enthralling. It gives the player the sensation of being a traveler of the sands. The traversal felt fluid and natural. The Unnamed can also traverse solid surfaces and obstacles in familiar platforming and parkour.


Nightmare of the sands

Without warning, there were monsters to face. Some resembled scorpions while other represented more Chimera-type enemies. The enemies ranged from being formidable to challenging. Powered by the sand and the Sun God, these monsters aren’t pushovers. They are fast and powerful. Some enemies require using certain elements, such as freezing. Fighting enemies would be a matter of mindlessly downing foes, but using a combination of attacks as well as maintain momentum.

What began as simple dodging and attacking became almost like a tactical puzzle. I found myself making decisions not just to defeat an enemy but to maintain momentum as much as possible. It wasn’t easy. The enemies’ attack was unpredictable. However, once I got the bearings right, I was able to maintain momentum and felt euphoric.


Move or die

In mere moments, Fighting felt remarkably fluid, which I exactly what a game focused on momentum needs. I wanted to keep going. The moment became one of intrigue, not if I could defeat a monster but what more special attacks I could unlock. Every moment happened in an instant, but it was one surprise after another. my weapons became blades, then hammers. They froze into ice and sent instant freeze into the enemies. Every combo sent me into the air, back tot he ground, and so on.

I never felt that kind of sensation before in a game. This feeling of movement and flexibility felt in-tune with the character and the environment. The dynamic combat made every moment feel essential. At times, I got reckless and felt the bit of a powerful and worm. It was a reminder that the Unnamed is powerful but not invincible, and is just as vulnerable to enemy attack.


The fluidity of movement


Having played premier titles, such as God of War and Vanquish, the experience felt familiar with its portrayal of action. however, it also felt refreshingly different and bold with its focus on movement. IN a way, the game reminded me of Vanquish in its focus on sped and momentum, replacing futuristic guns with ancient powers. The potential for this kind of combat is extraordinary.

Other parts of Atlas Fallen are brimming with life and mystery. The Sun God constantly watches the player. There are cliffs and trees dotted with swaths of sand to traverse. The atmosphere it not chaotic but less than calm, as it is abundantly clear that The Gauntlet represents a direct threat to the Sun God. There will be quests to pursue, monsters to slay, and Gods to dethrone throughout this ambitious adventure.

Atlas Fallen launches next week


Atlas Fallen will have online co-op for an additional player. The second player will have similar abilities and powers as well. Fighting some of these monsters solo was a challenge, making the idea of co-op exciting and ambitious. The dynamics to combat and coordination should make fighting the toughest of monsters an enthralling thrill in Atlas Fallen.

There is plenty of mystery to Atlas Fallen. We’ll see what monsters await and how these abilities will interact. The premise already intrigues players as it encourages the destruction of divine authority. Though previous games from Deck 13 didn’t feature deep narratives, this one changes that course.

Deck 13 has set sail across the gaming scene for several decades. There were rough seas and smooth waters. In it all, they came across uncharted waters and created gaming experiences that have been unforgettable. Their work has sent us into dark fantasies and dystopian sci-fi. Players have fought with magic, axes, and cybernetic weapons. There have been tales of heroism and barbarism. Stories of darkness and hope. Deck 13 has sent players on adventures that have been the envy of their peer.

Atlas Fallen looks to be a whimsical and amazing tale into the desert. A tale of man taking charge and commanding their destiny int he face of corrupted divine beings. The combat system is mesmerizing to see but powerful to wield. The visuals and traversal feel unlike anything else in recent memory. Now, a journey of over 20 years will culminate in the new game. I, for one, am ready for where the winds and sand take me in Atlas Fallen.

Atlas Fallen launches on August 10 for PlayStation 5, Xbox Series X/S and PC.

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