Nuclear Throne is essentially a roguelike and as is the case with most of its breed that means that the levels are randomly-generated, so it’s not even as if you can learn the layouts. But roguelikes aren’t about your in-game character earning virtual experience, but instead you, the player, gaining it. With each go you get better at controlling your character, learning the vulnerabilities of a particular enemy, or the advantages of a new weapon. There’s a Dark Souls style mentality in that the more frustrating the failure the more you realise you’ve learned for your next try.
Even the co-op mode seems cruelly unfair at first, as you’re given only a few seconds to revive your ally before your own health starts to tick down. But that, of course, only encourages you to work together more closely, and to treat your partner’s well-being as importantly as your own.
The Switch version isn’t really any different than the previous versions but like most indie games it’s found a natural home on Nintendo’s hybrid console, especially as it means you always have two controllers on hand for co-op. So it’s good to know that Vlambeer are also bringing Super Crate Box and other new games to the format in the future.
Like any knowingly difficult game Nuclear Throne won’t be for everyone, but its rewards are in direct proportion to the hardships you have in achieving every little victory. Nuclear Throne will always triumph in the end, but as you were probably told as a child it’s not the winning that’s important it’s the taking part.
In Short: A perfectly constructed neo-arcade game from genre master Vlambeer, which perfectly marries twin-stick shooters with roguelike punishment.
Pros: Excellent controls, wonderfully entertaining weapons, and a great balance between all-out action and more cunning tactics. Wide range of power-ups, fun co-op, and great sound design.
Cons: The random factor of the levels and weapons can end up being patently unfair in some situations.
Formats: Nintendo Switch (reviewed), PlayStation 4, PC, and PS Vita
Release Date: 20th March 2019
Age Rating: 7
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