It may just be described as a single player first-person shooter, but Atomic Heart is embellished with a bit of puzzle solving, some role-playing elements, and an aesthetic that was always going to make it stand out from the crowd. While the Soviet style and setting may have resulted in developer Mundfish needing to state their political impartiality and reiterate their creative intentions, it is also the basis for the game's excellent visual appeal.
- ATOMIC HEART // © MUNDFISH -
Set in a post-WWII alternative history where Soviet robotics have become a dominant mainstay, the world leans heavily on Communist iconography and absolutely nails the retro sci-fi feel with a welcome hint of steampunk and even a little scope for the supernatural.
It is the kind of art style that is ideally suited to in-game photography but since its February release, that has only been possible using third party tools on a PC. Until now that is, because in the v126.96.36.199 update for the game, Mundfish have included that most delicious of patch notes "Added Photo Mode".
- ATOMIC HEART // PHOTO MODE -
From the accompanying photo mode trailer, it looks like the studio have got off to a good start with their first venture into virtual photography and may have learnt a thing or two from what is already out there. In particular, a Save / Load Camera Position option that was used to great effect in Star Wars Jedi: Survivor makes an appearance in Atomic Heart too.
- ATOMIC HEART // PHOTO MODE UI -
Camera movement itself appears to be free, though I can't comment on its range without using it for myself, and a tabbed UI is entirely typical. The order of the tabs is not the best though; for example, the closely related Camera and Depth of Field are separated by Filter, Display, and Colour Grading, so don't expect the most efficient workflow.
There does at least seem to be a healthy list of features across the various tabs, with the essentials like field of view, focus distance, and aperture f-stop values accompanied by a range of image compensation adjustments and post-process effects.
- PHOTO MODE // SCREEN EFFECTS -
You'll find everything from preset filters and rendering modes to full RGB colour grading, as well as the likes of film grain, vignette, and chromatic aberration to add some imperfections to the image. There is also the obligatory selection of stickers that will no doubt be as useful as ever, but who am I to question that?!
Sneaking in elsewhere, there are a couple of other interesting and potentially novel options. The Resolution option that appears on the first tab is set to 'Screen' by default and could possibly offer the option to capture at higher resolutions, something that would be a first for consoles, while the depth of field tab also houses a Sensor Width setting.
- PHOTO MODE // SENSOR WIDTH -
Again, without trying the photo myself yet, it is hard to guess what this setting will do, but it could well alter the field of view and image characteristics to replicate the use of cameras with different sized sensors / film formats.
Either way, it is excellent to see a photo mode added to Atomic Heart, especially when you combine what looks to be a strong feature set with a great aesthetic and at least 4 DLC expansions on the horizon.
It seems like we may see a lot more of this game in the virtual photography space going forward then, so be sure to share your shots with the official Twitter account by using the #AtomicPhoto hashtag.
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