Evolving from a game called Wasteland Kings, Nuclear Throne was released into the jungle of Early Access on 11th October 2013, at practically full release price of £9.99 ($12.99).
The title “Early Access” on Steam has been inevitably accompanied by a growing sense of dread and the image of a shambling corpse bleeding money for some time now. It has become almost commonplace that a project be abandoned after its initial cash-grab, or to pitch the world and instead leave a barren wasteland where the Queen’s head once rested in our pockets. Thankfully there are some exceptions to this.
That trailer… Hot damn.
Vlambeer’s Rogue-like game has seen 88 (almost) weekly updates, balance tweaks, new additions (from sounds and art to entire characters) and most importantly constant interaction with the community backing it.
The twice-weekly development streams allow both live feedback and a more personal interaction with the developers, whilst the forums remain abuzz with alternate builds and modifications.
The size and regularity of these updates are more than enough to dissuade any fears about the game’s progress to eventual full release, and yet they are a mere bonus at this stage. As it already stands Throne is a monster of a game. The sheer blinding pace of runs through the meat-grinder is a massive hit of adrenaline on both the first and 50th attempt, speaking from personal experience.
The music is truly incredible, at times encouraging full participation in the madhouse and urging you to run blindly out into battle, whilst also reserving itself to take on an almost tragic tone whenever it should choose to do so. Seriously, this soundtrack is my alarm clock. And driving music. It’s damn good.
Albeit in a more pixelated world, the weapons are as ludicrously satisfying as those of Killing Floor; each swing or pull of the trigger has a delicious weight to it, which is cemented when a Bandit can go flying backwards, only to kill the two behind it.
The combat is also deceptively artful – in the middle of a boss encounter there is no time at all think about dodging, or to even acknowledge each bullet flying your way. Instead your brain is left stumped whilst your eyes link directly to the WASD keys, a spectator to both your own victories and demise. In fact several deaths can be chalked up to my surprise at dodging the previous wave of bullets.
The setting of Nuclear Throne is the ever popular post-nuclear-apocalyptic wasteland, with all forms of life severely mutated and serving as the playable characters. These mutants sit around a campfire, gathered by the legends of the Nuclear Throne; said to have been discovered by the Proto Mutant and guarded by beings of pure radiation, the Throne is said to be able to re-stabilise the world.
Once a mutant is selected they stand up and leave the campfire through a portal, starting their fight to the Throne. Much more lore has been pieced together from bits and pieces in-game and through the developers, but I would recommend the Wiki for the full story.
In short, this is exactly what Early Access should be.
A fantastic game able to stand as is, yet with active developers and a dedicated no-rush attitude on the road to full release. On the subject of full release, there is no set date as of yet, however the road is apparently nearing completion. Perfection cannot be rushed, and I for one am more than happy to sink another 60+ hours into Throne whilst we wait.