A Post-Apocalyptic Rogue-like based around an assortment of strange and interesting characters that are vying for the Throne of the Wastelands
(Disclaimer: This is NOT a review. Just my observations on the game. Personally, I have not played the newer version of the game. I have watched a livestream of the current build of Nuclear Throne and played the old mojam build from when it was known as “Wasteland Kings”. This is based upon my watching the new build and playing the old.)
Previously part of a past Mojam session, Vlambeer’s latest project is a rogue-like has decided to go with the twitch-based action path that many recent roguelikes are going down instead of the turn-based combat of more traditional titles. Instead of surveying your surroundings and assessing your current state of peril during “your turn”; the folks at Vlambeer want you to feel the danger of the environment and the impetuousness of these ambitious characters you control.
This is achieved in a multitude of ways from frantic movement animations to the gritty atmospheric soundtrack to the wild flailing of your weapons around in a 360 degree motion (from the fixed perspective of a top-down camera) as you quickly, yet carefully or even blindly button mash your movement keys, blasting your way through the mutant hordes of the new estate.
At it’s core, Nuclear Throne still demands some of the fundamental aspects of the genre; but, instead of fleshing them out, they seem more streamlined in order to keep the action fresh and constant. – You still need to build your character through gaining experience, leveling up, and choosing passives that will synergize and benefit your character’s progression. – You still need to explore the map layouts in search of precious resources that will aid you in your quest to survive the harder areas yet to come – You still need to discern what is a threat and if you are capable of taking out the enemies in front of you or if you need to make a tactical retreat and live to fight another day.
The Player currently has seven characters they may choose from to join them on their quest to obtain the Nuclear Throne. These characters range wildly from a character with a head full of eyeballs to another that resembles a lighthearted jab at a pyramid scheme, each with their own unique set of advantages.
At the beginning, Nuclear Throne drops your character down into the world with nothing but a single pistol(yet can wield two weapons), a small pool of ammo, and a small health pool. From there, its up to you to ensure their survival. By exploring the map and killing enemies, you will gain experience as well as access to scattered caches of weapons and ammo.
The character HUD sits in the top left corner of the screen with a large red bar showing your current and max HP. Underneath are the weapons the Player has with icons of the ammo types they possess. Just to the left of the HP bar is the XP bar. This displays the Player’s current level. If the Player levels up(or “mutates”), they will go to a screen that will show skills they may choose to buff their character should they survive to the end of the map.
Loot-wise, the possible drops for weapons include not only guns, but an assortment of melee weapons as well; and that is a godsend because ammo is very much a finite resource in Nuclear Throne. If one likes to “Rambo” through, the player might find themselves with having too many enemies left to fight and too little ammo to fight them with. So it is always good to try and conserve ammo as much as possible.
Something that makes melee weapons very viable is the ability to bounce back some, if not all, projectiles back to their owners for damage. This helps a ton when you have no ammo and if you can do it right, you can use your enemies ammo against them!
There are four levels to explore as of right now (since the game is still currently in development) with four, according to their steam page, yet to come; and that is not including secret levels. Rest assured, there is more to come on this front. However, thanks to the wide assortment of characters, randomly generated loot, and skills at level-ups, being able to try different builds gives the game replayability to aid the limited number of maps/worlds currently available to the game.
I did feel annoyed at times when I would accidentally kill the last mob on the map and the black hole vortex would forcefully suck me in and whisk me off to the next map despite my wanting to backtrack and check of bypassed weapon/ammo caches. It happened in the old build and it looks as though it has carried over to the new builds as well.
A welcome sight was the addition of bosses. The mojam build sadly did not have these, but the Early Access build does and they look formidable indeed. I’ve only seen one so far called the “Big Bandit” and with his boomstick(Shotgun), he downed the player quickly. It definitely showed that this game is not getting any easier and that only makes it better.
Vlambeer’s “Nuclear Throne” is currently an Early access title and can be found and purchased on steam: Nuclear Throne on Steam or through their website atnuclearthrone.com for the amount for $12.99. This gets you the latest current build of the game along with every new build that is posted until the final release (which you get as well). Videos, screenshots, and art can be viewed at both links.