This game is filled with monsters, mishaps, and maladies galore.
Radiation Island is a wide-open survival game that doesn’t pull any punches when it comes to its realism. Washed up on shore after a strange occurrence on the Devil’s Sea, your character begins with nothing but the clothes on his back and the strange, surreal music of the island in his ears.
Right away, I realized how frightfully unequipped I was for life on Radiation Island. Crocodiles lurk in the water while wolves, bears, and mountain lions roam the lush green landscape of the island. The mini-tutorial at the beginning helped me get equipped with some food and bare essentials to craft crude weapons, and then I was on my own.
Many challenges face you when night falls. Animals are less wary of your presence and attack more freely. The temperature drops, and if you aren’t careful you can freeze to death. Radiation, bleeding, broken bones, and drowning are also really easy ways to die if you aren’t careful, and I was not particularly careful when I first started exploring the island. Few directions are given, so starting out is a major uphill battle. I struggled a bit with discovering the best ways to equip myself for the dangers ahead of me, and knowing where I wanted to explore.
While starting out was a struggle, I enjoyed how free the gameplay was. I explored to my heart’s content, finding journal entries that gave me clues to the island’s existence and new materials that helped me craft better weapons and armor. The island itself is beautiful, stars lighting up the sky at night and sunsets worth watching.
My main issue with the game is the animation. Sometimes movement isn’t quite believable, and quite frankly, strange, which I don’t think is the result of the heavy radiation. I found rabbits sitting in the ocean. I fought a wolf trapped at the bottom of a staircase, running in place while I easily dispatched it. These issues were frequent and took me out of the gameplay. Fighting just isn’t satisfying when your opponent isn’t moving correctly.
Originally released as a game for iOS devices, Radiation Island makes sense on the Nintendo Switch, especially in portable mode. It looks great and functions well. The controls are a bit clunky when not handheld, but not significantly; I enjoyed playing it docked and while out and about. This isn’t a game that compels me to play for hours on end. However, it provides ample entertainment, and is one I can easily come back to for some good-old-fashioned island adventuring (plus zombies).