These rads flicker out of existence after a short time and so you're always moving forwards. This continued aggression and focus on dishing out punishment reminds me of Doom
- although obviously from a top-down perspective. Keeping momentum is dangerous here though in a series of levels where everyone's trying to do you harm. Combat is a constant rush of risk and reward.
You'll often be tempted to take a gamble if it means an upgrade - the perks are all game changing: homing bolts for your crossbow, extra health packs, the ability to burrow through walls or even fewer enemy hitpoints.
These are randomly assigned, so sometimes you'll build a strong character and other times a series of terrible options will leave you trying to make the best of a bad lot. It's hard to worry too much if you get unlucky though, death is just a few seconds away at any given time and with each death, an opportunity to start fresh.
Not only does it feel good to play, but it feels intuitive. Nuclear Throne
has several layers to it, and each of them feels like they feed into each other. This is what takes Nuclear Throne
from being a fun diversion to an excellent game - there's depth here, and while the entire experience is generated procedurally, there's enough uniformity that you can plan ahead slightly. As you get more literate in the way the game works, you'll find yourself getting further and further with each successive playthrough. While initially I struggled to take out the first boss, I now rarely have trouble before besting the second.
Outside of the core gameplay the rest of the package feels polished. The soundtrack is engaging and the pixel art works for me. The wealth of stats offered on the menu is great if you want to lament some of your greatest near misses, and there's a bunch of interesting secrets that I've been enjoying uncovering.
With enough skill you can finish the game in an hour, but there are daily and weekly challenges that offer some replayability, in addition to the fact it just feels so rewarding to play.
One thing I've wanted to play more of was the local co-op that lets abilities interact with each other in interesting ways. I enjoyed deflecting rounds as Crystal while Steroids ducked out with dual grenade launchers and rained explosive death on enemies.
If it seems like I'm being generous here, it's because it's deserved. Nuclear Throne would be a strong recommendation if it was a AAA £40 title, but the fact that it's being sold for £9 makes it almost a no-brainer.
Nuclear Throne may be one of the most surprising games of the year, and I'm expecting to keep coming back to it throughout 2016. That's the highest compliment I can pay the game, and it's one of the best action-roguelikes I've ever played.