Ubisoft Reflections, the studio behind Grow Home and Grow Up, continues its growth spurt with the release of Atomega on Steam. It's a blocky competitive first-person shooter in which players battle over mass, attempting to out-grow and overpower the competition. It's a cool little game that could use some serious expansion.
Atomega is a combination of first-person shooter and Agar.io, the popular browser game in which players eat coloured dots and their enemies to gain mass. Atomega players begin as atoms, harmless glowing orbs wandering the game's solitary map in search of purple mass cubes. As players gather cubes scattered about the playfield or stolen from vanquished foes, they evolve and grow.
First they become Cells, simple cubes with the ability to fire energy blasts at their opponents. Then Zoa, slightly larger and more complex creatures that ooze through the arena at a fairly speedy clip. Each new evolution increases the player's size. The raptor-like Saur has more firepower and endurance than the Zoa, but is slightly slower. The Prime is a lumbering ape, slow, plodding and powerful.
Players' ultimate goal is to become an Omega, a massive humanoid being that towers over the battlefield, raking it with a massive beam weapon that never overheats, unlike the weapons of lesser creatures. The downside of being an Omega is that all other players in the game (up to eight players can participate in a match at a time) receive an indicator on their screen pointing to the Omega, and since shooting one rewards players with extra mass, these supreme beings are prime targets. Fortunately these dalliances with near godhood are brief, and once the timer runs down the Omega starts over again as an Atom, and the race to evolve continues until the 10-minute round is up.
Atomega is incredibly easy to pick up and play, and my first several fast-paced matches were an absolute blast. Ducking into underground tunnels as a tiny Zoa, staying out of the way of my larger opponents until I could give them someone their own size to pick on is a thrill — but it doesn't last very long.
This is a multiplayer-only game, so players are limited to hopping into a game with strangers or getting a group of friends together. There's only one arena to battle on, and most of the players I've encountered seem to already know it backwards and forwards. Where Agar.io drew millions of players as a free-to-play game, there doesn't seem to be a lot of people playing this $US9.99 ($12) budget-priced Steam joint.
Hopefully the game will expand, and the player base along with it. Until that happens, Atomega is a game that's good for a couple of hours before it grows stale.