Review copy provided by Bandai Namco. Reviewed on PC.
The long-awaited title by Double Fine is finally available and is ready to bring a bit of double apocalypse with a retrowave flavor in our homes, thus giving the final blow to this hot weather. For the uninitiated, they used the term Rad a lot in America in the 80s and 90s as an abbreviation of Radical to show that something is really cool or extreme. The legend says that it was the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles who used the term, making it an extremely popular word in today’s general vocabulary. Here is my review!
In the game, those who play as the protagonist, is most definitely the coolest and “raddest” of them all. Luckily for me, I got of course the honors to be the protagonist this time. In RAD, playing as the protagonist, you are the person who stands among the young to leave for the broken lands to collect provisions and livelihoods for your community. To give you all the tools for your adventure (an enhanced baseball bat and the ability to absorb radiation from the outside world) will be the Elder. The Elder is kind of a funky Darth Vader who thanks to the power of his robotic keypad blesses you with the power of the Healers. These Healers are ancient entities that tried to save the world from the apocalypse. Precisely for this reason, your job as the protagonist will be to make sure that nature flourishes again wherever you pass.
Let me now focus on the two main features of the hero. The baseball bat (which if necessary can be modified if you unlock other skins) will be your main tool in the fight against survival, allowing you to launch powerful blows on the mutants who you will encounter throughout the game. The second tool available to you is the ability to absorb radiation from defeated enemies to load a bar at the top of the screen, in doing so you will gain new powers in the form of random mutations that will act as power ups during the game. The combinations are almost endless; you are able to have wings and an alien aspirator attached to the chest, more slime legs to be able to leave a sour trail with a extending boomerang arm, and why not go around with the crustacean body and a brain to control the mutants? But be careful, it is not all gold that is fluorescent, as some mutations may turn out to be a nightmare awaiting to happen. This will definitely make your journey much more complex than you hoped for, but this also makes it a lot more interesting.
RAD does not really have a dungeon structure, but it rather looks more like a miniature open world with randomly generated maps where your exploration will allow you not only to collect as many mutations as possible but also to catch unlikely post-world inhabitants who will provide you with your secondary missions. These missions differ from killing a particular monster or by solving puzzles with a platform structure. The scenarios proposed in this world are hit by two apocalypses that range from the classic desolate moors to neon swamps and decadent forests passing through the technological ruins of the Ancients, mixing with elements typical of the 80s such as the cathode ray tube and the much loved old television arcades.
From the point of view of the presentation, RAD has something unique in its character models and in the world’s aspect. Instead of a sad apocalypse that has been used so many times before, the game is full of bright colors and good music that does a lot to keep you wanting to play one more time. Once you play the game, you will agree when I say that the game’s isometric point of view definitely differentiates it from others. RAD’s game also ultimately focuses on close combat, since your main weapon is a bat. By killing the monsters with your bat, you can earn you a variety of things. Enemies can drop cassette tapes (the currency used in this post-post-apocalyptic world), and they can also drop floppy disks that can be used to open locked boxes or secret doors.
To survive in such a harsh world, all your skills are needed in dodging attacks and memorizing the patterns of each monster. Given the unexpected randomness of this type of game, it will not be possible to select a real difficulty at the beginning of the game. It is, however, possible to make your life easier with some available settings or unlock new skills and weapons when you are progressing in the game. The boss fight present at the end of each stage is very mixed and varied, and it will be essential to take advantage of the boost given by your grassy trail to have a better chance in succeeding and finishing the game.
For those of you who have played the earlier released beta version, expect a slightly higher degree of challenge than before, since multiple bosses do not take damage between them. After every boss fight there is the citadel, called the “Hub”. This is a safe place inhabited by outlandish survivors who will react differently after each of your new mutations and which will allow you to store cassette tapes in the bank, change weapons or to collect other secondary quests to advance and improve in your camp.
Finally, for those of you who think you are the toughest and most experienced players, or for the speed run lovers, the game also features the Daily Challenge mode. This mode will test your skills in completing as many stages as possible with only 8 minutes available at your disposal. Will you be RAD enough to break the rankings?
Has RAD fulfilled my expectations? Absolutely yes! This is a cool and easy going game ideal for those who don’t want to engage too mentally but enjoys killing mutants and likes to evolve your hero while playing the game. After playing the game on my PC with a constant 60fps, I would strongly advise you (with its light nature and super affordable price) to also try it on the Nintendo Switch despite the fixed 30fps. Believe me, you will definitely enjoy taking your post-apocalyptic journey everywhere you go. The only negative note is the lack of a co-op mode, now increasingly present in these types of games.