I'm a creature of habit and no mistake, before I play any game coffee will be made and biscuits set to one side for the brief loading screens and moments of defeat. Over the last two weeks, I've had an additional habit to contend with: a little game called Nuclear Throne.
It was funny, the week before I acquired this game a friend challenged me to review it and after watching the development history video on Steam I was intrigued but decided to wait until later in the month to pick it up - hopefully in the Steam sale. At the end of December, I traveled down to London to watch a live event hosted by the Guardian and as luck would have it one of the guests on the panel was one of the actual developers for Nuclear Throne (NT) - a clever chap called Rami Ismail from the developer Vlambeer. As per usual with these events, there was a raffle and as per usual I didn't win bugger all - but that was ok because as free Steam codes were being given out for NT I grabbed one and left very happy indeed. Fate it seems decided I must now review this game as my good friend had requested.
Nuclear Throne is a top-down 'action rogue-like' that sets you the task of navigating fifteen or so procedurally generated levels to finally reach and beat the Nuclear Throne itself. You simply choose a character and press play to be thrust into one of the most satisfying games of its genre I've ever played. You pass through set themes every time you play with their own enemies, each set getting progressively more difficult. You start the game with a simple pistol but can pick up a whole raft of various weapons as you play, each one pertaining to a specific ammo type: arrows, bullets, energy etc. The trick is to find two weapons that work well together from different ammo pools because you can only carry two at a time.
As you play you also pick up green shards which push the rudimentary character development forward allowing you to unlock access to radioactive mutations - you must pick one to be applied before continuing. These do add some nifty abilities such as teleportation, regeneration or being able to run through walls. These upgrades allow you to tweak your character to your favoured play style and weapon choices. I have been playing NT alongside Fallout 4, as I am now coming to the end of my time with the latter have really enjoyed the quick bouts of mayhem on NT both before and after. It's almost like a pallet cleanser from the deep, involved gameplay of Bethesda's juggernaut RPG.
I think part of what I like about this game is the way it has been developed, in the watchful eye of curious gamers and fans. The framework for the game was laid out in a seventy-two hour development event, since then the team at Vlambeer have worked on it, added new content and vanquished more bugs that Bear Grylls. What I love is the spirit of PC game development runs through this whole project, for example twice a week the game is played live to garner feedback and ideas from avid fans. I'm not saying this should be how all games should be thrashed out and developed but in this way you really gain a level of trust and admiration from the gamers that big hitters like Ubisoft and EA can only dream about.
I hope Vlambeer continue to add new levels and content in the future, the one feature I do hope they add is co-op play across the Internet as opposed to just local: this game was made for co-op play so anything that allows this is a plus in my book. So I don't feel like I need to say much more about Nuclear Throne other than I cannot recommend it enough. Of course, no game is for every gamer and thus, some will not find it their cup of tea, that said it is one of them games anyone can pick up and play. Simple in design, insanely addictive and instant fun: like popping bubble wrap or Haribo.. once you start it's that 'just one more' phenomenon that keeps you playing for hours.