Ranking the Rogue · Reviews

Ranking the Rogue: Nuclear Throne

This roguelike good I like this video game 10/10 Five stars 40/40 metacritic = 100.

 

6/10-IGN

“I died a lot.”

character-select

Hi people. It’s time for another ranking; this time roguelike; this time Nuclear Throne. A game with birdmen, fat lizard things, fish who roll, and terrifying memes. It’s isometric shoot-em-up action structured in a tight and simple roguelike mold.

This game doesn’t have the item count of many roguelikes out there. There are few weapons organized into types, and each type of weapon carries with it its own ammo, and in many instances its own upgrade path. Sometimes you find an energy pistol on the first floor, and the first upgrade you take powers up your energy weapons, effectively building your run to focus on energy weapons. Other times you get a wrench, and you level up and take the skill that allows your melee strikes to carry more range. It’s strategically choosing upgrades and weapons to build toward a certain playstyle while you shoot and dodge through groups of enemies that give xp once dead.

There’s a triple machinegun that I really like. It’s like the world’s fastest shotgun. Chews through your ammo count, but everything in front of you melts.

Those melting enemies are set to what floor they’re on, and floors are themed to carry the player through three stages in which at the end a boss lurks, ready to vomit upon the player with fire and bullets and whatever else it can. The boss I fought the most is at the end of floor one, and he’s cool because he bursts from the wall in a random position and usually does so when the player is in the middle of a gun fight creating a tense and frantic funtime. In between boss floors there are transition floors, like this neat looking sewer:

sewers.jpg

This game is on consoles. It works on consoles. I don’t like playing it with a controller. I think this game, especially in how it aims, relies heavily on a precision I cannot get out of dual analogue sticks. This is a keyboard and mouse game.

My favorite element of this game is its brevity. I spoke about this a bit when I reviewed Enter the Gungeon, and I thought that game had a great feeling of swiftness with its runs. It was never really an hour a run like Isaac usually becomes. Nuclear Throne is much quicker than Enter the Gungeon, in fact. This is due to the floors and their smallness. Enter the Gungeon is full of these nicely detailed and painstakingly animated rooms that are fucking huge and take forever to explore.

Nuclear Throne is completely random in that the layout of the floor doesn’t matter so much. You just walk from area to area killing everything. The rate at which the game progresses is rapid enough that you are seeing different enemies all the time. It creates a quicker feeling that seems to respect my time even though I die and restart over and over until I’ve spent another hour of my life staring at a colorful screen that is damaging my eye sight and no doubt rotting my fucking brain but IT’S ALL WORTH IT.

If you sense a theme here it’s simple, it’s short, and it’s clean. That’s how this game works. The gameplay makes up for the simplicity in terms of outcome, in terms of player choice, and in terms of complexity by offering satisfying and well-tuned gameplay. Aiming feels exact (with mouse of course), shooting feels impactful (especially with certain weapons like crossbows and energy weapons), and this combines with intense combat situations to make gunfights that feel exhilarating.

This is a game about dodging and shooting just as other shoot-em-ups are all about dodging and shooting. You have a secondary attack that generally acts as your ability, and those abilities differ depending on which character you select at the start of the run. You unlock more characters as you progress through the game’s many floors, and by completing objectives. One character is a fish, and his ability is to dodge roll. His gameplay feels fast and frantic, but that extra mobility makes him the perfect character to start with as a beginner or even if you’re just warming up at the beginning of a session. Another great character is this dude made out of purple crystals. He starts with more health and the ability to turn into an invulnerable, unmoving crystal that reflects bullets. Great for beginners.

There are surprises in figuring out what each character does so I’m not going to waste time describing what every single character can do being it’s fun to discover for yourself. It pays to play around with everyone to get a feeling for who you excel with before you really get down to the gritty details of actually completing the game. Just know that some upgrades allow players to upgrade their character’s ability. That crystal? His invulnerable mode can be upgraded so that he does a teleport after the full extent of his crystallization. That’s pretty neat.

shotgun-desert

At the time of this writing I haven’t actually completed a full run. This game is very hard. It’s fair, mind you, but challenging. Sometimes I feel like I don’t have the necessary reaction time to beat this game. That may be true, but more than likely I just need more practice. What pays off here is that I often become addicted enough to restart run after run just because the game is that fun to play. I can easily lose an hour here and there playing the game when I really just booted it up to have a few quick runs in between tasks that are more productive (or supposedly more productive) in terms of the progression of my real life. REAL LIFE DON’T MATTER. You gotta get that Throne SON.

I’ll maybe come back to this review once I have attained anything passed level fucking five. But it’s a testament that I believe wholeheartedly in this video game while only experiencing not even half of what the game has to offer. If this written review seems a bit early due to my own experience with the game…well just remember…

I am not a game’s critic.

The story of the game doesn’t particularly matter to me. You play as some mutated abomination after the end of the world and you need to find the nuclear throne which is something whatever who cares the game is just fun. I like how animated each character is, and overall their designs are very nice. There’s one character who’s a fucking triangle and he just memes all over the place I’m not a fan. But the other guys are pretty cool.

The music in this game is also very cool. It ranks up there with my game soundtracks I could listen to outside of a video game list that I have yet to write but now that I think about it that could be a potentially interesting piece and by interesting I mean I might write half of it get bored and leave the draft in my drafts page on this blogging website/tool. There’s a lot of western and southern rock going on with more atmospheric moody pieces. The opening track alone is enough to make me want to actually listen to the music instead of my own music or a podcast–how I usually game these days–though as always I appreciate the option to completely remove the music when I do want to play a podcast or my own music in the background. Multi tasking is king. This is a great multi tasking game. Not necessarily for watching things, however. The game takes a great deal more focus as far as dodging and reaction times. You gotta be quick on your fingers to survive.

How does Nuclear Throne RANK AMONGST THE ROGUES!?

1. Nuclear Throne

2. Enter The Gungeon

3. Brut@l

4. Pixel Dungeon

Thus far on my humble little list, Nuclear Throne ranks #1. Truth be told, this game is one of my favorite games of all time, and as such I can’t imagine this number one spot will be changed anytime soon. Roguelikes, you’ve got a hard champion to dethrone.

Get it?

Throne.

retry.jpg

mr punt

11/18/2016

 

 

 

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