Troubled links with Russia, vulgarity, sexism: nothing goes in Atomic Heart

Published by Focus Interactive and already available in the Xbox Game Pass, Atomic Heart is a game that gets people talking for very, very bad reasons.

This Tuesday, February 21 comes out Atomic Heart. This title published by Focus Interactive can make you want if you look at the trailers: a narrative shooter reminiscent of BioShock – cult productions that resonate with fans of the genre. But if we are interested in its news, we realize that it is affected by controversies linked to several subjects, both linked to the origin of the development studio and to the tone of the game itself.

What’s wrong with the Atomic Heart video game

The troubled origins of the development studio

To understand the political controversy surrounding Atomic Heart, you have to look at the context: a year after the start of the invasion in Ukraine, a Russian studio launched a video game articulated around an alternate history showing an all-powerful USSR. Naturally, there have been calls for a boycott — like this video posted two weeks ago on YouTube that has garnered more than 1.8 million views. Atomic Heart thus finds itself at the heart of a legitimate debate.

The question arises of the origins of the Mundfish studio, officially based in Cyprus (a tax haven for many Russian companies, coupled with a means of escaping certain sanctions within the European Union) but born in Moscow — as this Eurogamer article published on February 17 indicates. On its official website, Mundfish claims to be ” an international team of experienced developers “. In a tweet posted on January 16, the studio had to bluntly confirm his identity: “ We have noted your concerns about who we are at Mundfish. We would like to assure you that Mundfish is a developer focused on the development of an innovative game and an organization for peace and against violence. »

Atomic Heart // Source: Focus Entertainment

At the same time, composer Mick Gordon has indicated that he has donated the money earned with Atomic Heartwhile pressing Mundfish: “ I believe it is important to separate the actions of government from those of citizens. The game is an international effort, with 130 developers from 10 different countries. I respect the creativity that emanated from the development of Atomic Heart. »

Whether Atomic Heart is published by Focus Interactive, a French company, Mundfish counts Gem Capital among its investors. This is where the border with the Russian government blurs: Gem Capital is a Russian investment fund, linked to Gazprom (gas company majority owned by the power in place) – by its president Anatoliy Paliy. Bonus, Atomic Heart is distributed in Russia via the VKPlay platform, the equivalent of Steam integrated into the VKontakte social network whose parent company is… Gazprom. The calculations are therefore quickly made: buy Atomic Heart would fill the coffers of Russia and, by extension, finance the war in Ukraine. Hence the outcry.

Sexism and vulgarity

In Atomic Heart, the hero can improve his equipment. To do this, he must contact a fridge equipped with an artificial intelligence named Nora. So far, so good. Except that Nora answers us with a rosy telephone voice and enjoys going inside in an extremely reifying way. Chosen piece: Put it in the slot ” – as proves this series of tweets signed Pierre Crochart, journalist for Éclaireur Fnac. It’s profoundly gratuitous and useless: the running gag ends up being very embarrassing.

Especially since the character we play has macho and threatening behavior with poor Nora, whom he threatens to physically hit – to which the voice responds that it excites him. Implausible scenes result from this which reflect a poor image of women, but also of men, like the violent protagonist that we play.

Added to this sexualized fridge is an unhealthy obsession with anything reminiscent of vulvas. If you pay attention to the decorations, you see them everywhere. ” There is even a lockpick mechanic which consists of inserting the ‘cables’ of his glove into the ‘lock’ to unlock it “, indicates Pierre Crochart, always with illustrative captures.

Atomic Heart // Source: Twitter Pierre Crochart
This is far from the only vulva on the counter // Source: Twitter Pierre Crochart

And what about these robot twins with sexy measurements who strike lascivious poses?

Not content to be stupidly sexist, Atomic Heart also reveals a rancid vulgarity. As reveals it Gauthier Andresjournalist on Twitch (ex-deputy editor-in-chief at Gamekult): “ Nobody wants a character who replies ‘fuck you’, ‘Fuck you’, ‘Abridged’, ‘We don’t care’, ‘What else’ every time we talk to him, especially when his glove speaks. The hero goes so far as to gratuitously insult simple doors and other locks. We guess the trick after a few minutes: the developers make up their narration of abysmal poverty by a shocking writing. Even if everything would only be satyr, everything leads to believe thatAtomic Heart goes way too far not to get caught. Especially when you add up all the evidence that could overwhelm him.

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