Atomik: RunGunJumpGun is absolutely maddening. I’ve been trying to come up with a way to describe it for a week now and the best I’ve got is “the bastard offspring of a bullet hell shmup and Flappy Bird.” That really covers all the bases I think. You will know, based on this description, whether Atomik is for you.
The subtitle RunGunJumpGun is apt because that’s really all your character can do. Each level is a hyper-intense obstacle course through which your character — a little guy lugging a minigun — will hustle horizontally. There’s only two buttons for control — you use the minigun to make him hover or drop vertically to avoid enemies or incoming fire, and you can fire the minigun forward to try and destroy enemies in your path.
That’s it. That’s all there is to the game. You RunGun and you JumpGun. As you move through the game’s many, many levels, the challenge only ever seems to get higher and higher. It’s the sort of game where you’ll get stuck on a single level for ages and it will drive you mad. You’ll put it down, walk away. You won’t come back for a few days, but when you do you’ll fly through the level and complete on your first attempt.
The game’s story is a kind of sci fi gauntlet, your character taunted by various weirdos via video message. The game’s entire aesthetic is one of pulsing light and lurid colour palettes that recall the look of Hotline Miami which creates a sense of heightened, hyper-stimulated gamefeel.
Atomik: RunGunJumpGun is solidly made and executes well on its premise. It never shies away from challenging its player, and I had a genuinely good time with it even though I also spent most of that time in a blind rage. But I kept coming back, and you probably will too.
Score: 7.5 out of 10
Highlights: Interesting concept executed well; Cool low-fi visuals
Lowlights: You may go bald from pulling your hair out in frustration
Platforms: Nintendo Switch