Addictive shooter greater than the sum of its parts
For those who have had the pleasure of playing Dennaton Games' cult classic Hotline Miami, you'll feel right at home with Vlambeer's latest offering Nuclear Throne. Far from being a rip-off of the gore fest that is Hotline Miami, Nuclear Throne merely takes cues and inspiration from the aforementioned top-down shooter while providing a wonderfully executed and insanely addictive action-shooter that is greater than the sum of its parts by orders of magnitude.
Set in a dystopian wasteland ruled by various mutants competing for power, Nuclear Throne's colourful palette and retro style is simultaneously nostalgic and heartwarming. While it has all the trappings of a twin-stick bullet-hell shooter, there is a certain degree of strategy and ammo management involved that elevates it to something more than just a knee-jerk bloodbath.
Being methodical in Nuclear Throne is very important. There are fine lines in abundance in this title and crossing any one of them could be the difference between a perfectly timed grenade toss and said grenade clipping the edge of a corridor and resulting in the immediate demise of your almighty protagonist.
Unforgiving is a word that could be applied to pretty much every aspect of this game. The dreaded 'game over' screen simply results in you being sent all the way back to the beginning, with none of your power-ups intact. The importance of these power-ups can not be overstated. One I found particularly useful seemed almost laughably bad at first glance. 'Hammerhead' allows you to burrow through walls, a seemingly useless ability until you realise the importance of retreating to an alcove for a quick breather in an open battlefield.
What truly sets Nuclear Throne apart from its competitors is the pacing of the game. This is a very swift game that has none of the vast session times of similar games in the genre. Nuclear Throne's 10-15 minute sessions are incredibly hard to resist, making it incredibly accessible to even the most casual of gamers.
Nuclear Throne may not have the same breadth or depth in content as its closest competitors, but it is a short and sweet title that does what it says on the tin and a whole lot more. This one will challenge you to methodically pick your way through levels, invest wisely in your characters upgrades, and then tear out the carpet from underneath you once you make the simplest of mistakes.
An absolutely essential title for any avid gamer out there.