Neo ATLAS 1469 – PC Review – by DarkLunarDude

Genre: Simulation
Developer: ARTDINK
Publisher: Arc System Works
Release Date: Feb 21, 2017

Have you ever wanted to explore the world, engage in trade with many different places, and effectively shape the world to look different than it does in real life? I know I never thought that idea was interesting, but for those who do, Neo ATLAS 1469 is for you. Neo ATLAS 1469 is an explorer simulation game developed by ARTDINK that was later released by Arc System Works. This explorer simulation game with some interesting game play, alright characters and simple but effective graphics holds well against other games of the genre, but it does still have a few flaws that may sink this ship.

Board your ship and set sail as the story for Neo ATLAS 1469, while wide and diverse in its content, does feel marred by a number of issues. We, the player, start the game with a small video about a sailor named Gomez and his journal, telling us about him and his past before disappearing after a fierce sea battle against a pirate on the open seas. From here, we are introduced to Miguel, a person who is looking to rebuild a trading company, one held by Gomez before he disappeared, and Peres, a scholar who Miguel is trying to convince to admiral their ship for a little bit of time. After a good time in the game, Peres agrees to work with you but under the guise of finishing his book, which is interrupted when you find a small abandoned shack on a small island. This shack holds the legendary Gomez and upon his return, the true struggle begins as you must run a trading company, explore the world, and make your mark in history. I will end the story ends as the rest the follow is more sporadic than anything.

As I mentioned before, the story has a few big flaws in it, one being an issue I wish I could overlook if it was not for how glaring it was. The story itself is the first, one just seeming more like a sporadically thrown together story, based on mini chapters rather than a whole tale. This made the story feel disjointed and confusing, being hard to follow as you’re given so much information to try and remember. The one I can not forgive, though, is how much of a tutorial the early portions of the game really are. Early game I expect to be shown the ropes and slowly eased off on my own to being the character, but Neo ATLAS 1469 just went over that line; the story would constantly point out tutorial after tutorial, even close to an hour in, which made me feel like the story was just a tutorial to show you how the developer expects you to play the game with constant hand holding. This discouraged me as a player from wanting to go farther because I felt the challenge of learning the systems was not there or enforced.

Prepare to set sail as we leave port to talk about the various gameplay mechanics that Neo ATLAS 1469 uses, and while there are not many I found detrimental to your success, there are a few. The first one I want to talk about is the sailing or discovery system; this system of you drawing a course of action determines where the ship will go as well as how the world is ultimately shaped as you uncover more of the map. You can freely explore a decent sized area at the start – but I will admit that exploring the world outside of it will open up new options for profits to be made. Then there is the relic system, an add on to the discovery system that awards you gold and items based on scouring the map for various locals to unlock items for trade and different history events. Following this is the trade and fleet systems; as you progress through the game, you can expand your trade routes to increase the gold you make, depending upon what the trade incurs so grapes with barrels will allow you to trade and make wine. These trade routes are designed to be customizable so you can be as diverse or as narrow in your scope as you please. The fleet system ties into this heavily as you build up the fleet as you go along in the game, allowing you control what ships go where and what they can collect. It is important to note that each ship has a different purpose so sending a battleship to do trade may be less effective in the end.

With the sails hoisted and the wind blowing us out to sea, let us speak of the visual presentation that Neo ATLAS 1469 presents to us and why sometimes simple can be the most impactful for a game. The visuals used in Neo ATLAS 1469 are simply done but well executed, something I found refreshing and a good change for pace as it fit the game well. The detail levels here are minimal with characters but the hud is well detailed, featuring features that one might expect on older maps with nice amounts of cel shading to make it look more rustic and old. The CG scenes are more like pictures of a book, usually show the picture of the event going on but these were supposed to be more informative, which I found to nice as it was a good pacing breaking from the overload of information at times. The characters, for the most part, follow the cel shading style – which is okay, but they range from realistic, like the admirals, to a chibi-style used for Miguel. It does leave it confusing what style do they try to go with but I can see what they were aiming to do in the process.

Humming along to an old time tune, the music focuses around what seafarers would have heard back when. Most of the music that Neo ATLAS 1469 uses is actually horn based, not the classical I was expecting, which was a nice touch in my opinion as it gives you the ‘out at sea and the world is all around’ you type of vibe. The sound effects were on point for this novel, due to the limited scope they had to cover, so where they are used, it used as an effective tool with the music instead of against it.

Overall, Neo ATLAS 1469 was an okay time with some fun factor of the ability to ultimately shape the world in your favor, but the constant tutorial of an early story and lack of challenge left me feeling empty in the end. An alright story, the ability to shape the world and how it looks, customization factor of trade routes and trade exports, multiple admirals, simple but effectively implemented visuals, the use of the old book as a transition for events, good use of a horn based soundtrack and the sound effects being used effectively make for an okay experience.

Pros:

  • An alright story
  • The ability to shape how the world looks based on exploration paths
  • Trade routes and trading exports are customizable by the player
  • Many admirals to choose from
  • The rustic and aged looking simple visuals
  • The use of an old storybook as a transition
  • A fun to listen to horn based soundtrack
  • Sound effects feel well used

Cons:

  • Story felt more like mini chapters then a whole tale
  • The over saturation of tutorials kills the early game fun
  • Some systems don’t function as intended
  • A confusion with character art styles
  • Game time may vary from 5 hrs to 10 hr plus

DarkLunarDude gives Neo ATLAS 1469 a Drastik Measure 7.5 out of 10.0 (75).

For the price of $29.99 on Steam, I found the game enjoyable, but I would only recommend this game to those who like the idea of exploration at sea and running a trading company, or those interesting in the life of the 15th century as the game’s heavy focus on this with multiple tutorials can overwhelm the player.