Nuclear Throne review

Panos takes a radioactive deep dive into the post-apocalyptic world of indie gaming hit Nuclear Throne.

One of my fantasies as a F.P.S. fiend was to be hooked by an old-school arcade action game and invest into it hundreds of hours as I do for my favorite competitive multiplayer F.P.S. joints… This fantasy has eventually become reality with Nuclear Throne!

I bought the game on Playstation Network based on a raving Eurogamer review and the hype that’s been built for two years now around the early version of the game on Steam.

Nuclear Throne is a roguelike twin-stick shooter. For those into what I call the “New Wave Of Retro Style Gaming” (N.W.O.R.S.G.) the comparison that’s already been given of The Binding Of Isaac vs. Hotline Miami is totally true.

The Hooks

Under a minimal graphic facade hides an extremely addictive and elaborate beast. Generally 15′ are enough to be hooked like it was the case for Vassago during our latest meeting: I left him for a short while alone with N.T. running on my PS4 and when I came back he was bashing the DualShock like crazy – he who is primarily a PC mouse-and-keyboard player!

Nuclear Throne: picking a mutationIt all happens in a post-apocalyptic world populated by mutants such as the enemies and yourself. You chose a character (some unlocked at the beginning, others later) and off you go. After killing all the enemies on a level and depending of how much radiation you have collected, you will potentially able to chose an extra mutation amongst 50+. Those will give you an edge on the battlefield and/or allow you to survive longer.

“How well you will do is a combination of luck, skill and strategic micro-decisions”

How well you will do is a combination of luck, skill and strategic micro-decisions that you will make picking up mutations and weapons. Talking about guns, there are around 150 of those, some standard (revolver, shotgun, assault rifle), others more exotic like … a guitar used for melee!

The Depth

What makes the beauty of Nuclear Throne is that most of the times that you will lose (we’re talking permadeath here), you’ll de-brief and be able to identify exactly what did you do wrong. Maybe you:

  • were baited by HP, ammo or radiation drops,
  • were reckless and didn’t play it safe enough when you should,
  • picked the wrong weapon or mutation,
  • didn’t abandon your favorite weapon when it was out or low on ammo, etc.

Sometimes of corpse you’ll do nothing wrong, and you’ll just be the victim of the game’s cruelty. Spawning for example in a new level only to find yourself doomed amongst an unbeatable horde of enemies. This is the only big criticism that one can make to Nuclear Throne.

beating the throne doesn’t end the game but instead starts over from the beginning into a new “loop”

Additionally, you’ll be surprised to learn that beating the throne doesn’t end the game but instead starts over from the beginning into a new “loop”. Each loop is harder, featuring more enemies but also extra possibilities for more advanced weapons and unlocks that aren’t available until Loop 1.

The versions

Nuclear Throne is primarily a computer game (running on Windoze, Linux, Mac) supported by an enthusiastic community. Supposedly the game is easier when played with a mouse and keyboard. That would be one reason to explain why I have yet to beat the throne after 100+ hours – the other would be that I’ve stuck with Crystal too long and is now time to move on with Steroidsm (or maybe I simply suck).

“The proof of how much love and support the game gets, is that we’re coping with the bugs stoically without much complaints, expecting major post-launch patch Update 97 to hit the PSN”

nuclear throne crashThe PS4 version where I’m mostly playing it, is crippled with bugs and crashes that can interrupt abruptly your match. The proof of how much love and support the game gets, is that we’re coping with them stoically without much complaints, expecting major post-launch patch Update 97 to hit the PSN (I admit checking Vlambeer’s twitter several times per day, waiting for the good news).

The Vita version is more solid to my experience. However, as this is a game that requires tight precision and that Vita’s controls as good as they are cannot match a Dualshock, this shouldn’t be your primary platform of choice.

Play and listen now!

The good news is that you can give Nuclear Throne’s gameplay a go by testing Wasteland Kings, its early prototype. You can download it here.

You can also listen to (and maybe purchase) the excellent soundtrack here:

Being available exclusively on digital format until now, your only chance of grabbing a physical copy is by subscribing to next month’s Indiebox and getting the boxed collector edition. I already did! If you miss it and it’s not sold-out I guess that you will still be able to find it under their store’s past boxes section. I somehow suspect it won’t last long though. Oh and btw: it will also include PS4/VITA download codes!Nuclear Throne vs Indiebox

A strategy/survival guide will follow soon. Until then, watch yours trolly playing and eventually getting beaten by the throne!

Nuclear Throne review was last modified: January 17th, 2016 by panos.agoros

Posted on by panos.agoros in Gaming, Music, PC, Playstation 4, video game consoles, video game soundtrack

About panos.agoros

Music and computers. The same two passions that Panos has ever since he was a kid, have defined the path that he would follow in life. He studied computer science in Paris-France in the early/mid 90's and is an IT engineer, providing since 1999 Mission Critiical support for enterprise environments. He is also known to be a retro hardware scavenger and old computer collector. His love for music pushed him to become actively involved in the scene. From November 1995 until the early 00's he ran Chaotik Webzine, a pioneering music webzine and the first to provide coverage for both the metal & hardcore underground. He is for the last 15 years an editor of Metal Hammer Greece, the biggest music magazine in the country. He rans a small record label and distro, Blastbeat Mailmurder, and is also the vocalist/lyricist of critically and fan acclaimed astrogrind outfit Dephosphorus. In his lost hours he does field recordings and manipulates sound waves for his experimental noise/ambient Kommpound.

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