Welcome to On the Radar, a semi-regular column that focuses on cool new games that may have slipped under your notice.
This time, we’re taking a look at Atomic Society, a pre-alpha post-apocalyptic town builder from Far Road Games that takes classic town-planning and strategy and puts in a grim, dying wasteland world.
What’s Atomic Society about?
Atomic Society is a radioactive mutant of a game, combining the features of Fallout 4’s settlement system, the gameplay of Settlers, the strategy and resource-gathering of Age of Empires and sprinkles just a touch of Banished on top for flavour.
The essence of the game is simple: rebuild a society that can survive the barren wastelands and burnt-out landscapes that now comprise the world. What makes Atomic Society interesting, however, is what kind of society you actually choose to build.
Leading a society in such an environment is no easy task, and you will be faced with myriad issues that other town-builders can’t or won’t deal with. Slavery, drug use, prostitution, murder, cannibalism: you have to decide how you deal with these problems.
Slavery, drug use, prostitution, murder, cannibalism: you have to decide how you deal with these problems.
Will you be a benevolent ruler that upholds the rights of all that come to live in your settlement? Or will you take the Mad Max route, and become the new warlord of the wastes?
You will, of course, still have to deal with all the stock standard issues that are an inherent part of the town-building genre. Starvation is no joke in a world where very little grows, and unhappy citizens in Cities Skyline are a lot less likely to lynch you than they are in Atomic Society.
Beyond these common problems, the final version of Atomic Society will also have you contend with raiders, radiation and all the other treats that only the apocalypse can provide.
You can find out more in the most recent trailer below:
Who is behind it?
Atomic Society is the brainchild of Far Road Games, a 3-person team based in Greater Manchester, the UK. The team is made up of designer Scott MacDowall, a previous employee of Rare; artist Mariana MacDowall who is both a 2D and 3D artist and a teacher; and Nick Stevens, a programmer who has been “coding since the Atari ST days”.
The game itself start as just a hobby in February 2015, but the “desire to play the games no one else appeared to be making” turned Atomic Society into a full-blown project for the small (but passionate) team.
Why should you care about Atomic Society?
Atomic Society should be on your radar for one simple reason: it goes where other games don’t. While the town-building genre is hardly new, there are very few titles that have transported the player to the post-apocalypse with such competence.
Due to the nature of the environment, you’ll be able to make truly adult decisions about social issues that simply don’t appear elsewhere. Don’t pretend you’ve never wanted to build a town where cannibalism is just accepted, or a city where everybody is expected to go raiding on the regular. It’s a brilliant concept, and makes the game stand apart from its peers. In fact, I can only think of one other title that seems to be attempting what Far Road Games is: Frostpunk.
As mentioned, Atomic Society is still in pre-alpha, and will likely still be for the immediate future. The small team behind it isn’t completely inexperienced individually, but have yet to release a full game as a studio.
The small team behind it isn’t completely inexperienced individually, but have yet to release a full game as a studio.
Further, the game itself is quite expensive for a pre-alpha title. You’ll be expected to shell out $14.99 for the baseline game, though you can give a little more ($19.99) for a special edition that gets your name into the game and the credits (and some other cool stuff).
Finally, you must remember that Atomic Society is still in the very early stages, and many of the features have yet to be implemented. The wording on the roadmap also imply that many of these features are subject to change, so the game you are buying now may be very different from the title you (hopefully) eventually get.
If you like town-building and you like post-apocalyptic environments, then Atomic Society is definitely worth a look. You can find out more on their website, or head over to one of their many social platforms including Reddit, Twitter, Facebook, Discord, Youtube, Steam or their official forums.
If you’d prefer to get a copy on Steam, you should wait until early 2018, when the game is planned to hit Early Access. Purchasers of the game before this date on the website will get a Steam copy as well though, so feel free to buy now if you can’t wait.
An interesting premise, a slow-but-competent execution; I look forward to seeing how Atomic Society performs over the next few months!
Are you thinking of picking up Atomic Society? Let me know what you think in the comments below!