Part 56: Final thoughtsAll righty then. I already wrote up a review on steam, so let's see if I have anything to add, as well as what I and The Great Evil King agree and disagree about. Some relevant background - I am, in fact, a former Russian and an avid RPG player (LPer, guide writer). Huge fan of Fallout, Stalker, Metro and a lot of the same classic sci-fi (Soviet and otherwise) that the developers claim to be inspired by.
Unlike TGEK, I didn't suffer through every bit of gameplay. Quite the opposite, I occasionally had a fairly fun time (particularly when modded to be less of a hassle).
As my playthrough demonstrated, this game has like 1 bit of (fairly difficult) mandatory combat in the main questline, and most sidequests can be completed with little to no fighting. If you do decide the engage the wide host of random encounters and optional combat, even gimping yourself by playing a melee character will allow you to facetank (and save-scum) your way through most fights, and you'll tear through the combat encounters with anything moderately optimized.
Thoroughly engaging with every bit of content will shower you with permanent benefits (skill and stats increases in dialog and sidequests) and temporary stat increase items (having a thorough meal with tea, coffee, cookies and condensed milk makes you a combat machine). All the boosts are reasonably common and last for a while, so that you generally won't regret using them. Cooking giving you a tiny bit of xp is a great positive incentive to use all that food you pick up. The common stat boosts and wide variety of stats used in dialog ensure that you're rarely unable to complete a quest (and as worst case scenario, you can always resort to violence).
Issues with the gameplay include the same clunky combat, barely upgraded from the original Fallout. Almost anything would be an improvement - using the Fallout Tactics combat system, including a real time combat setting, direct control over your companions actions, allowing you to start combat mode with the press of a battle, an entirely different UI... just about anything would be better.
Another gameplay issue that doesn't really come across in a screenshot LP is just how stupidly oversized and empty most locations in the game are. Trying to evoke a sense of place that the graphics and design can't handle, we end up with dozens of pointless named NPCs and hundreds of empty or trash filled containers, all working to waste the player's time as it takes minutes to run from one end of a moderately sized dungeon to another. A hundred crafting designs, most of which are useless and can't be found in-game. I kinda have a thing about games wasting my time, but this sets a brand new standard. I went on about this in detail over the course of the LP and in the review linked above, so I won't waste more of your time complaining about the waste of mine.
Edit - oh yeah, the lockpicking. So many of these endless doors and containers are locked. If you don't have the required lockpicking skill, you can't try to open them. If you do... you get to fail over and over until the dice finally land in your favor. The worst of both New Fallout approaches. And being locked doesn't even guarantee the container will contain anything of value, or anything at all.
Once again, unlike TGEK, I didn't hate every single line of dialog in this game. "Dull realistic prose" didn't murder my parents, and frankly, it takes far more tedious and pointless RPG writing for me to get genuinely annoyed. ATOMG RPG is miles away from something truly unreadable like Pillars of Eternity or something truly vile like Planet Alcatraz. It helps that my first playthrough was in Russian, and a lot of the references at least got an "I recognized this" out of me. If anything, I feel like more deep cuts about 1980's Russia would work better than Shrek or crypto currency. Russia had the same revival of 80's nostalgia in the 2010's as the US (unlike now, as we seem to be going back to the good old 1930's).
The companions had coherent and (with the exception of Fidel) vivid personalities. Some of the more absurd jokes, like the Luck outcomes for difficult combat encounters, actually landed. Most of the game's content and sidequests was tied together into... well, not a thematically coherent whole, but at least tied to the same in-universe lore. The Mushroom cult and the Postman conspiracy were involved in almost everything that happened. TGEK posted a "conspiracy board" of the various relations halfway through the LP, and I feel that updating it now would make it more complex than the KGB LP conspiracy chart. On paper, it's better than a bunch of things happening in total random isolation from other. I consistently praised the rumor system - all these NPCs have something to say, and you're never entirely sure whether it's directly relevant to the game, a bit of lore or just made up bullshit.
The game at least mentions a lot of very interesting subjects, and is subtle enough about it that TGEK first assumed that the game barely has any supernatural elements in it.
On the flip side, the writers seem to think that references are the same as jokes, and that mentioning something is the same as discussing that. There's a lot of "hey, this doesn't belong in post-apocalyptic USSR!" stuff that's meant to be funny on its own, and a lot of concepts are brought up and never followed up on, with the game acting as though it's done something clever.
There's also a lot of... charitably, edgy cynical internet hot-takes from people who get a lot of their humor and worldview from Lurkmore \ 4chan. Less charitably - bullshit alt-right takes "sneakily" wedged into the game.
With all that, I didn't find the game the worst thing in the world... but with the revival of Fallout-likes over the past few years - Encased, Underrail, Shadowrun, even Wasteland (3), there's really no reason to go with this. Even if you're a Russian Fallout fan, this game doesn't really lean into the aesthetic and the references in an interesting way, and you'd be better off with Fallout mods.