Have you ever wanted to play a MOBA but you don’t have quick enough reflexes? This is your game. Atlas Reactor is a game where you pick a character, team up with three other people, and then fight a four-person team in turn-based combat. The game advertises itself as a MOBA that does not require quick reflexes and it delivers on that.
In Atlas Reactor you fight matches using freelancers. Each freelancer has its own set of stats and abilities. There are different freelancers designed to fit different roles such as a tank, support, fighter, and assassin. Once you have chosen your freelancer you can look for a match. You can play against bots with an AI team or other players, compete against other players, or play ranked. Once you start a match you will have 20 seconds to plan your turn. After that 20 seconds, all actions will be carried out simultaneously and then the next round will start. The first team to reach five kills in twenty turns will win the match. That’s the core of the game.
Currently the freelancers are very diverse. There are supposed to be three different categories, (firepower, frontliner, and support) but freelancers can vary wildly within categories. For instance, in just the firepower category there is an artillery unit that leaves mines where it shoots; a long-range, sneaky sniper; a guy that can bounce his shots off walls; and a girl with a crossbow that can order a drone around the battlefield to scout out and shoot enemies. Each character has their own set of unique abilities they can use. There are four types of abilities in this game and each one happens at a different time during each turn. First you have the prep abilities. These happen first and consist of healing, buffs, debuffs, and the placement of traps. Next you have dash abilities. These allow a player to quickly move in order to avoid damage or to gain some extra mobility. Some dashes cause damage while other simply move you. All dashes happen at the same time so if somebody is dashing to you and you dash away you’ll receive no damage. Next is your blast abilities. These are your attacks which come last and happen before your character gets to make a basic move. Different attacks do different things and have their own quirks as to how they are used or aimed. Blast abilities all happen at once, but they get shown to the player one at a time. In addition, each character has a special ultimate that they can use after they gain enough energy by using their other abilities.
After you play with a freelancer for a while you’ll be able to unlock mods. Mods allow you to augment your abilities in order to better suit your playstyle. One thing that is interesting about mods is they are balanced. Each player can only equip up to ten points of mods and more powerful mods cost more to equip. It’s an interesting situation having to make an ability weaker to strengthen another ability but it allows the creation of a unique freelancer. This helps to make the same freelancer feel different each time you fight one since you never know just what kind of mods they have equipped.
The different freelancers are fun to use but there are a limited number of ways to use them. Currently, there are only four maps that you can play on. Also, there is only one game mode currently available. There was another game mode in the game at one point, but it was been removed, although it seems to come back for a little while every now and then. Playing deathmatch over and over again can get a little stale in my opinion. Thankfully, the game rewards your play by giving you a loot matrix every time you level up your season level. A loot matrix can be opened for random pieces of loot that are available at the time. These items are things such as skins, boosts, iso (an in-game loot), taunts, and pieces for your banner. If you get a duplicate you get iso which can be used to buy any piece you want so long as you have enough iso. Completing matches in order to keep unlocking loot matrices is one of the thing that keeps me playing. It’s really fun opening up a loot matrix to see what’s inside.
This game does have a story but it is not very obvious. This game has things called seasons which are a collection of chapters that are only available to do for a limited time. Each chapter contains objectives to complete. When you complete all the objectives you unlock a new chapter. Some objectives can be easy such as playing ten matches or gaining ten season levels but some can be tedious and time consuming such as using twenty taunts in games you win, play fifteen matches as an Omni freelancer, or complete five daily quests. Completing chapters earn you rewards and can unlock more story. Each chapter contains a decent length story that a player can read. Each piece of story is supposed to relate back to the quests the player is doing in that chapter. Overall, what little I’ve read of the story seems okay, but I have not read all of it since it takes a considerable amount of time to sit there and read it all when one could be playing the game and unlocking more items.
The game has surprisingly good graphics. More turn-based games don’t seem to have really nice graphics, but that’s because the player is normally zoomed out so that they can see the battlefield. This game lets you zoom in all the way. Also, I mean that literally. For some reason, you can zoom in so far that you can look at a freelancers waist. Now, I have no idea why one would really want to zoom in that far since it makes the game impossible to play but the graphics do look good zoomed in all the way. My only real complaint about the graphics is that you can’t zoom out that far (I’d really appreciate a top-down angle) and that sometimes the character models clip but this seems to mainly happens when playing a taunt (a special animation) with a special skin equipped. The audio is also pretty good. Characters all have nice, distinct voices and they say things rather frequently during battle. In addition, the different abilities all sound rather well. The only downside is the music is not that impressive. The main menu theme is nice but while playing a match the music is mostly background noise and ambient sounds.
The game does have a very interesting control scheme. For the most part, everything can be done with the mouse and most things seem to try and be done in the fewest clicks possible. That can be good since you are on a timer but some things can be just downright frustrating. For instance, one character can throw two little grappling claws at her enemies. She can throw them both at one enemy, throw them at different enemies, or throw one at a power-up to pick it up. In order to throw both at one enemy you have to aim the mouse away from the player in the direction you want to throw. If you want to target two locations you have to move the mouse closer to the player until they split. Once they split, you keep moving the mouse closer to the player to split them further apart. If you need to change the direction you are throwing them in you have to keep the mouse that distance from your character and rotate the mouse around. It can be pretty tedious to aim that ability just right. Also, that’s just one of the abilities that behaves like that.
Some freelancers have different firing modes that change depending how far the mouse is from the player. Other than that most of the controls seem pretty good. My only other real complaint is that since this is an online multiplayer game, you can be affected by lag. That can make the game slow to respond to your input. Normally this is not that bad but it can really mess you up every now and then. Another weird thing about the abilities is how aiming works. Some abilities are single-target, others are multi-target, and some attacks can switch between the two. Sometimes, if you can’t hit a target with a single-target shot you can change to a multi-target mode and be able to hit them. This can lead to some weird attacks and can lead to you dying when you thought you were safe.
During the course of writing this review the game went free-to-play. This has changed the game somewhat. It used to be you had to pay $29.99 to play the game with full access to everything. Now, you can play the game for free to earn a special currency that can be used to unlock freelancers. This is good for them but the problem is people that have bought the game have a bunch of that currency they are also gaining that is mostly useless to a paying player. Also, even though the game is now free-to-play they still offer the $29.99 package that I had gotten and they do seem to encourage you still to buy that since it seems like unlocking stuff as a free player takes a while.
Overall, this game’s biggest moral problem is its language. There’s not much offensive language that is said in this game besides using the Lord’s name in vain, but there is language that appears in the story. There is also the inclusion of a global chat and some things posted in it are very bad. There is a language filter to bleep out the curse words but there is a lot that is not filtered. There is some violence in the game, but is mostly cartoonish violence. Now, there are some more sexualized outfits for some characters but most of those are optional outfits you can unlock and are not the default outfits.
If you want a fun and fast-paced (for a turn-based strategy) game with the ability to battle your friends I’d recommend playing Atlas Reactor. If you like the idea of this type of game I’d really recommend checking out the free-to-play option to test it out for yourself. The free option doesn’t seem to be too limiting and the price you pay to fully unlock everything is not that bad. The only downside is it only has one game mode, but the game is also pretty generous with giving you loot matrices to unlock so you always have something to play for. Overall, it is a pretty fun game to jump into for a little while and play a couple of matches.
-Paul Barnard (Betuor)