Nuclear Throne Review
PC (tested), PS4, PS Vita
I realised me and Nuclear Throne
wouldn't be friends when i first picked up a disc launcher. Firing it, it bounced off of a nearby wall and came back, neatly bisecting Crystal.
I didn't know it would do that.
An achievement pops up "Sincere Apologies"
Screw you, Nuclear Throne
Vlambeer's roguelike top-down shooter has been something of an early access darling, with the team releasing an update nearly every week since the game released in Early Access two and a half years ago. The game is nearly unrecognisable from the one I tried out on Steam back at the launch, even carrying a different name.
The time in incubation has seen it well - what you have here is an incredibly polished shooter, with your many deaths not feeling all that unfair, beyond one particular death towards the end of the game that many of you will be familiar with.
If you die in Nuclear Throne
, you're generally to blame. You restart, you try again.
Your goal is fairly simple: kill every bad guy on 15 procedurally generated levels across the seven different "worlds" and ascend the nuclear throne of the games title.
There's such a variety to the situations that you'll find yourself in that it rarely feels boring. I'm fairly certain I've not used every gun in the game yet but as my favourite character Robot has a bonus to finding better weapons rarely a run passes when I don't get to use a minigun, grenade launcher, or laser rifle.
Vlambeer know guns. This is quickly apparent. The slight screen-shake, the comedically over-sized (same size as the player character) bullets and the bassy thump of the weapons make every gun a joy to fire. A slight offset to the camera when you fire somehow is the secret sauce that feels like a Hollywood gunfight compressed down to two dimensions. It feels like God himself is giving you a kicking.
Cutting away every other aspect of the game, Nuclear Throne
is the best top-down shooter I've played since my beloved Nation Red
. At its finest, gunplay is a damned ballet and you dance through the bullets like a gymnast.
But there's more than just the blasting. Each of the game's 14 playable characters has different abilities that changes how the game is played: Crystal has more health and a bullet-deflecting shield while Eyes has telekinesis and can see perfectly in the game's darker levels.
The key to being a bad enough dude to take down ascend the throne is rads. Rads function as experience points for a character and with enough they'll gain a mutation, a little perk that'll give you a one time bonus.