Atomic Heart developers, Mundfish, have issued an apology for including racist cartoon footage in an in-game promotional video and explain why it was included in the first place – find out more about this story here.
Atomic Heart is a first-person shooter designed to include elements of role-playing and stealth. Players can fight various enemies (mechanical, biochemical or biological) using a combined tactic of shooting and slashing. Mundfish developed the first-person shooter, and while players had been looking forward to it at first, many controversies arose during the week just before the game’s release, leading to an apology from the Atomic Heart developers.
Set in an alternate 1955, the game takes place in Facility 3826, the foremost scientific research hub used by the Soviet Union. Players take on the role of Major Sergey Mechayev, who must find Viktor Petrov while fighting through failed biochemical experiments and homicidal robots while also struggling with his slowly deteriorating mental state.
Criticisms Faced Before and After the Release
Before the Atomic Heart was even released, Mundfish faced heavy criticism for several things, including unstable player experience on specific platforms and links to Russia despite the current conflict between Russia and Ukraine.
This criticism hasn’t gotten any better after the player, ResetEra, discovered a cartoon in-game featuring a racist stereotype. The cartoon is Nu, Pogodi!, a Russian cartoon from the 1960s that appears to be a Soviet rendition of Tom and Jerry.
While playing Atomic Heart, players can take a break from the conflict in resting chambers and opt to watch seasons of Nu, Pogodi! The cartoon debuted in 1969, so of course, there are going to be some unfortunate stereotypes displayed throughout. Still, one of the episodes proved too evocative of its time period.
The episode in question is Museum, in which a Soviet disco wolf (Volk – the cartoon’s version of Tom) fails to capture a hare (Zayats – the cartoon’s version of Jerry). While Volk makes his latest attempt to capture Zayats, the screen flashes past a statue that portrays a racist representation of an African tribesman.
What might have been an accidental lapse in judgement was not helped by the fact that the female robot twins in Atomic Heart feature some similarities to Yulia Tymoshenko, the head of the Batkivshchyna party in Ukraine.
Players’ Response and the Apology From Mundfish Developers
Many players who saw the imagery were outraged that Mundfish had seemingly shown so little tact. However, others felt that the developers were justified in their choices (particularly concerning the cartoon) and that it wasn’t right to erase history, no matter how racist it might seem.
Mundfish had this to say regarding the Nu, Pogodi! clip, “The Mundfish team thanks the PC Gamer contributor for bringing this lack of sensitivity to our attention. We apologize if using the vintage cartoon or music has caused hurt or insult. We will edit the parts in question.”
They issued this statement in reference to their opinion on Russia invading Ukraine:
“Guys, we have noted the question surrounding where we, at Mundfish stand. We want to assure you that Mundfish is a developer and studio with a global team focused on an innovative game and is undeniably a pro-peace organization against violence against people.”
Hannah Lieberum is, first and foremost, a geek with a passion for writing. Her love for reading, from the classics through to sci-fi, often needs her to focus and overanalyse the narrative of films and games, while her love for art allows her to see the beauty in unexpected shots. An excellent backstory will always win her over, and she will never pass up the opportunity to sit back, relax and watch Star Trek while petting her permanently grumpy cat.