• Developer: Double Fine Productions
  • Publisher: Bandai Namco Entertainment
  • Platforms: PlayStation 4 (reviewed), Xbox One, Nintendo Switch, PC
  • Release Date: August 20, 2019
  • Price: $19.99
  • Review Code Provided: No

RAD had me intrigued at the mere mention of Double Fine. I have been a fan of their games for quite some time now, and they represent some of the best gaming time I had on my Xbox 360, honestly. RAD raised my eyebrows when I saw some screen shots and talks of the game allowing you to mutate your hero in a post apocalyptic world. I love me some Toxic Avengers and TMNT afterall.

RAD convinced me to purchase and review this game with one huge hook, 1980s nostalgia. Also you can mutate to have dungeness crab legs or birth little spider versions of yourself out your bum….. so yeah, good start!

The story in RAD is actually surprisingly good. It’s an alternate timeline where the world basically ends around the 1980s and the only people strong enough to trek off into the wastelands and find a secret to humanity’s survival are the children. The game boils down to you choosing a child for your run, initially with only a few options based on cool 80s art and aesthetics, and heading off to your inevitable death in the wastelands. Once there you must navigate a procedurally generated series of areas, collecting remnants of the society that once was, destroying mutated plants, animals and creatures along the way, all while taking in radiation with each kill and mutating yourself beyond recognition. with each mutation you can gain buffs, more hearts, extra arms, the ability to plop out eggs, ooze vile green poison sludge out your nethers… and many other things. This is where RAD simply shines!

CRAB TIIIIMMMEEE!!!!

In the above playthrough, you’ll see that I started recording around the time that I gained a massive left arm that I could remove and chuck at enemies as a sort of projectile. I found one of the secrets to a decent run was obtaining some sort of projectile weapon, or something that could be detached to attack enemies of their own accord. Reason being, all you get is a baseball bat to start, and that is the only “true” or conventional weapon you have in this game. Everything balances on your skill and timing with the bat and dodge rolls until you can mutate. One of the more ridiculous ranged mutations I found was a second head that grew out of my shoulder (yep!) which could be removed and could operate as a sort of turret until it either was killed (poor Eddie my second Headie!) or I chose to explode it to damage enemies and pop a new one out of my shoulder.

These ranged skills makes all the difference as the bat has a limited range, and the dodge roll, to put it bluntly, sucks. There is a massive delay on input and dodging which is manageable by learning patterns, but in the thick of it is simply frustrating to deal with. There is no blocking or shields to speak of, you’re a child after all, so that dodge is integral, so it is really a shame that it is not where it should be. Others may find no issue with this aspect, but I really did.

If you have an exceptional run, like I did in the above video I think, you can find some really cool mutations like the dungeness crab mutation. There is just something so cool about this, that I could care less about the abilities it grants, but they are good too. Your child is woefully slow, unless backtracking along the path of greenery that grows behind you (I can’t explain it), but the crab legs make you motor around making enemies far more manageable. Also, you can burrow into the ground to protect yourself and then pop out for surprise damage. All very good, and renewed my faith in the game for a while. Just a while though.

The kid archetype I used most often, because 80s

This review is so late because I DESPERATELY wanted to have a really good run and make it to the end of the game. I am not great with rogue-like games, but love them to death. I was hoping this game would catch me in the way that Rogue Legacy did. That I would not want to put it down and feel that the ending is obtainable. I sadly never really felt that way.

The game is not overtly difficult. Someone with better reflexes than myself could very much make it to the end, maybe with ease, but I couldn’t. Once I found some good mutations, the gimmick wore off. After hearing the narrator yell “Bling Bling!” in a deep 80 commercial announcer voice 50 times, my initial nostalgia became a small smirk at best. There was nothing grabbing me saying that I wanted to get further. The enemy variety was ok, but most amounted to the exact same strategy to out maneuver, whittle down and eventually move on from. The level design is interesting, but every run felt far too familiar. There is a way to bank cash you find on each run, but that is relegated to getting to the next “world.” If you only get through two worlds, that doesn’t really become a factor. The boss enemies were large and aggressive, but really mediocre. I found myself longing for the creative enemy types from Enter the Gungeon, even though they were far more difficult.

Does this mean I hated the game? Far from it. What I played I enjoyed, I just was happy to move on from it. I may pick it up again and try for another run, but that is fairly unlikely.

Would I recommend it to others? It depends. If you are on the Nintendo Switch ( I played the PS4 version) I think this game could have more legs, pun intended. there is a decent save function, so you could essentially pause the game, either through rest state or saving, and return to it when you are ready. I didn’t find that drive to do so on my PS4, but may have on the go.

Is there more content to bring you back in? Sort of. There is a mode that allows you to add mods to the run you are about to do, which are chosen at random. My one and only run in this mode made it necessary to keep moving, lest you become the bus from Speed and die. Bad analogy, I know, but it was a bad mod. I actually stopped at a few points and NOTHING happened to my character. That mode may need further experimentation, but really it is the same game, with a debuff or buff/debuff combo loaded on to it.

What his come does to is, do you like the 80s, do you like mutant humor ala TMNT, and do you love rogue like games. If so, this game could give you a few hours of fun. The amount of hours you leverage out to it depends on your enjoyment of the above factors I think. Bottom line, it was a fun game, and for the price it might be worth a try.

7/10

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