A specter is haunting Waypoint Radio—the specter of BioShock Infinite. That game’s influences are all over Atomic Heart, whose Russian origins (and sex robots) are its own discourse. After the break, we touch base on the ongoing Activision Blizzard acquisition, and the surprising raises across some of Japan’s larger gaming companies. Elsewhere, Rob’s reviewed Company of Heroes 3, and Patrick is happy to report Metroid Prime still whips. Then, a developer writes in to clear up why a studio wouldn’t make their own game engine.
I attempted Atomic Heart but the combat felt bad and I met an aggressively horny vending machine and just…
Between that and the protagonist and his talking glove I think I’m done with this style of writing. No more talking accessories. No cuffs, no gloves, no guns voiced by sex pests. Bring back the silent protagonist. If they have to speak please do not let them speak like this.
Thought it was interesting how this pod took me on a rollercoaster of the gang breaking down the controversies around the game and making a compelling argument for a lot of it being poorly conceived (to paraphrase, “sorry you fucked up by being born there”) and then just as I was thinking “oh, maybe I should try playing this when I have a minute” made an even more compelling argument for why the game sucks anyway, regardless of origin, creators, or financial backing.
That’s precisely what I thought as well. Up until the actual game discussion I was intrigued but somewhat conflicted, thinking I wouldn’t buy this for full price, but maybe pick it up on sale some time. Once the crew actually dove into the game proper, I realised I really don’t need to try it. I am one of the few oddballs who enjoyed Bioshock Infinite more than the two Rapture games. But even I don’t need a below average rehash of that, as intriguing as the notion of a satirised Soviet Utopia is to me, having grown up on the other side of the Iron Curtain. I also have stopped playing games before because I really did not like speech patterns or displayed attitudes of protagonists or accompanying characters (hello Draugen).
Since it was brought up, in the context of the wizards game I think the most frustrating part of the discourse for me was the ever repeated notion of ‘separating the art from the artist’. Which is really not the intellectually enlightened position some people make it out to be, it’s purely a way of saying ‘I want to enjoy whatever I feel like without having to think about who or what I support with my money’ (and sometimes even ‘fuck you for trying to make me think about who or what I am supporting with my money’).
The other, and even more heinous idea I saw bandied around quite a bit was that boycotting the wizard game would hurt ‘innocent developers’ more than JKR. Which is somewhat nullified by the discovery that the former lead designer of the game is a right wing agitator who used to run a YT channel which is said to have been focused on anti-feminist and anti-social-justice messaging. Apparently this was known to WB Games and they had no issue with it. He only left the studio in 2021 after a broader media controversy around his right wing background. So there goes that notion.
Sorry, rant over. Just had to get this off my chest.
I watched a friend–well, one of my partners, actually–play through the entirety of Atomic Heart via GamePass, and we both left with such a seething disrespect for nearly everything in it that it inspired me to get a cohost just so I could post about it. The breakdown I dropped about it in a Discord channel earlier today topped out at 2.3k words. If I had a YouTube rantsona, I would have already put out a video about it. It would be titled Atomic Heart: A Shallow Soviet Retelling of the Worst Bioshock Game.