EntertainmentGamesNuclear Throne, a roguelike game a la Mad Max

Nuclear Throne, a roguelike game a la Mad Max

Checking my mailbox recently, I saw that I bought Desktop Dungeons eight years ago. I had heard many people speak well of him at that time, the emergence of indie games in which we could see the release of the great representatives of the genre ; games like Braid , Super Meat Boy or Castle Crashers .

Desktop Dungeons was my first contact with the so-called roguelike , a genre that was well known today but somewhat less popular for the great masses of gamers at the time. These games were characterized by the randomness of each game, a higher difficulty than normal, permanent death and (if necessary) a more elaborate gameplay than the graphic aspect .

The game consisted of advancing in turns through randomly generated dungeons , facing randomly positioned enemies and being very careful in the order of confrontation since they could have a level much higher than yours and if you approached without having previously prepared you would not last two sword strokes . With mechanics as simple as that and very fair graphics, I spent hours and hours exploring the dungeons and discovering the secrets they hid .

Image: Nuclear Throne / Vlambeer.

After Desktop Dungeons , they came classics like The Binding of Isaac or Faster Than Light . But it was in 2013 when the one that for many is the crown jewel of the roguelikes , Nuclear Throne would arrive ( Dead Cells and others could also occupy that position, let no one be angry). Developed by Vlambeer , a tiny Dutch studio composed solely of Rami Ismail and Jan Willem Nijman , and using Game Maker as a game engine, they managed to create what would be a true revelation in Steam’s early access program. It would not be until two years later when its development would be terminated and before they had already produced wonders such as Super Crate Box , a free game on Steam that offers devilishly fast and addictive games.

A throne among rubble and debris

But let’s focus on Nuclear Throne . The plot of the game, simple in appearance, part of a nuclear apocalypse after which the Earth completely changed and humans, animals and robots have become mutants . Over the years, a legend appeared about a nuclear throne in a mysterious palace that would be the key to regain stability on the planet. Little by little, the different races of the world were sending representatives to check if the legend was true . As we have already said, the history of Nuclear Throne seems simple but it hides countless secrets that we will hardly know if we only dedicate ourselves to playing without consulting one of the many guides that roam the Internet.

Image: Nuclear Throne / Vlambeer.

Being faithful to one of the basic rules of roguelike , each game is different from the previous one . Although we always start at the same level and go from one to another in order (unless we take shortcuts), the structure of these will always be different; levels will never be repeated, so we can never know where the enemy is lurking . It also changes the position where the chests with weapons or life and the radioactive waste jars appear. These jars allow characters to level up, and each time we do so, we are given the option to choose one of three different mutations. These genetic alterations in the character will change when you choose them and vary between a wide range of options: more life, greater probability of finding weapons, more precision in shooting, the ability for enemies to take damage when we touch … Nuclear Throne offers an extensive collection of skills that can be combined with each other, so we will have to plan a strategy to see which ones we should choose if we already have others.

Image: Nuclear Throne / Vlambeer.

As an addition, in some levels we will find portals that allow us to access the Crown Vault , a temple where we can find (surprise, surprise) crowns that will give us access to more different abilities. The grace of these objects is that they carry a negative counterpoint , as they can make chests with weapons stop appearing or that they turn into cursed chests.

If all these customization elements weren’t enough, each character that we can choose at the beginning of the game has two unique abilities. Yung Venuz shoots faster and can do a double shot, Crystal starts with more life and can generate a protective shield, Chicken starts with a katana and can survive when they kill him running (literally) like a headless chicken … Each character has its peculiarities for what the different players will feel more comfortable with one type or another, but always having to try them all even once .

Nuclear Throne is also famous for hiding tons of secrets and challenges that will keep any player entertained for months or even years . Some allow you to unlock new characters and others to discover previously hidden areas. To mention a few: if you do not destroy any waste container during the first levels you will face Horror , if you carry a screwdriver and hit a particular car in the Frozen City you will access the level of the Yung Venuz mansion and if in the sewers you use a grenade with the only round cap there is, a level with four turtles and a rat (clear reference to the Ninja Turtles and Master Splinter ) is discovered.

Image: Nuclear Throne / Vlambeer.

And if we talk about a roguelike , we cannot fail to mention the battles with final bosses ; characters to hate with all your might on a level similar to that of any rival in Dark Souls . The confrontations that will take place during the game will be against Big Bandit in the desert, Big Dog in the garbage dump, Lil Hunter (how I hate you…) in the Frozen City and with the Nuclear Throne in the palace. It is precisely there where the great secret of the video game is hidden: if the throne is defeated and the four reactors are destroyed, a loop can be made to return to the beginning of the game (in the same game) but with substantial differences such as different weapons, stronger enemies or new final bosses.

Much more than a pixel art game

We have mentioned the main elements that make up the world of Nuclear Throne , but we have not forgotten many other important details that help shape the whole and create one of the best experiences that can be found in an indie game: the music and the gameplay. The OST is provided by Jukio Kallio , with great melodies that help shape some great pixel art graphics and can be found for free on Spotify . On the other hand, the controls have a simple and great implementation that helps to feel, from the first game, that we have the situation under control and that if they kill us it is only our fault . This will make us want to start a new game immediately and we can spend hours playing, since it is very easy to fall for the Nuclear Throne hook without even realizing it.

Someone once said “ask me a couple of times and I may tell you it’s the GOTY of all time” ; And if you think about it it is not a phrase said lightly. Nuclear Throne hides a thousand details, a thousand hours of fun and a thousand secrets that every player must experience in the first person . If you haven’t already, we can’t help but recommend that Nuclear Throne be the next title on your Steam list ( “Run, you fools! “).

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