Review: The Final RAD-port

SPOILER-FREE; cause I’m not great at this game.

After 6 hours of gameplay, I’ve discovered that a lot of things could go wrong.

Due to the nature of rogue-like genre games, the death of your zealous (or perhaps overzealous) teenager causes you to lose all progress and start over from scratch; no checkpoints in the game to save you from your untimely death.

You start the game looking like every other normal zestful teenager, armed with nothing but a bat and a dream; to be the saviour of your now-twice apocalyptic afflicted world. Along your journey, you meet with mutations roaming the Fallow. Kill them, and you acquire some of their radioactive toxins that will mutate yourself and give you strange new abilities. The currency that the game uses are Cassette Tapes and Floppy Disks, things probably only 90s kids will remember. Cassette Tapes are used to purchase consumables and upgrades while Floppy Disks are used to open locked chests.

New heroes are unlocked naturally with gameplay. Each run, no matter how successful, will grant you a certain amount of experience (XP) that unlocks certain things in the game such as new bats, more mutations, new consumables and of course, new heroes. The different heroes are however, purely for aesthetic purposes.

An overview of a run in a part of the Fallow begins with you running around and smashing mutations with your trusty bat. It’s important to note that almost everything in the Fallow can be smacked with your bat. As such, there’s a chance for consumables or currency to drop. So channel your inner Link and smash those “pots”. Your objective is to find and activate several totem-like figures to unlock the main boss room.

There’s enough space for you to avoid, or kite, the boss to minimize the damage you take. You can break some elements in the boss room for a chance of meat to drop; the meat heals you for half a heart when you run over it.

Defeat the boss and you get to go back to town to drop off your remaining Cassette Tapes in the bank, which lets you save for future runs. Or, you can carry on directly to the next map. The risk is yours.

What I Thought About It

Because of my lack of experience in rogue-like games, I was impatient in the beginning. I couldn’t move on and I couldn’t even fathom killing the boss. The game requires a lot of patience, studying the abilities of the mutations and their movements in order to execute them. Unfortunately, patience is not my strong suit. As such, I suffered the consequence of many premature deaths.

I liked the whole 80s feel of the game: the funky clothing, the vibrant neon map design, and the colloquial 80s terms. The Announcer is always ready to commend you on finding “moolah”, “dough”, “legal tender”, and “simoleons”. (Fun Fact: Simoleon is actually slang for a dollar, not just a term for currency in The Sims series.)

Smashing (almost) everything in the Fallow was cathartic. You could even beat Non-Playable Characters (NPCs) for talking smack about your mutations.

I’d give RAD a 8 out of 10. The shattered remnants of civilisation are cleverly used; broken roads, evening vending machines that give you health potions when smacked (10/10 would not recommend smacking vending machines in real life though). In its entirety, it’s not exactly repetitive as you gain new upgrades with each run.

The limitation of choice in mutation was frustrating. When you filled up your radioactivity bar, you were given 1 random mutation; freedom of choice cannot be exercised. This Random Number Generator (RNG) aspect of the game made it difficult in some runs. While playing with the various mutations, I realised that some were more useful than others (or rather, I could manipulate some better than others). However, this in turn made the game more challenging and you couldn’t just pick “meta” mutations. Skill then becomes a big part of RAD.

I had to turn off the background music (BGM) in the first hour of play because it gave me tinnitus. It was rather overbearing, even with the reduced volume. Another thing was the Announcer. Sure, at the start, it felt cool to have him say out everything that you do/happens to you. It’s a novel experience; how often do you get a personal caster? But, it got old quite fast. It became more annoying than invigorating.

Overall, a pleasant experience for my first rogue-like. If you like being part human, part mutant centaur, part ram, part skeleton (did I mention that you can throw your skull at enemies?) or make 200 IQ plays with your bulging anomalous brain, RAD is for you.

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