Forget post-apocalyptic games. This one’s double post-apocalyptic. (it’s also rad)
Rad, the latest roguelike from Double Fine Productions and Bandai Namco, follows a group of teens who live in a world ravaged by not just one, but two apocalypses. You control one of the civilization’s remaining teens on a quest to find a new source of power for civilization to rely on. As it is set after this bizarre double-apocalypse scenario, the procedurally-generated wasteland you explore is ravaged with radioactivity. This is where the otherwise-typical roguelike gameplay gets interesting. Your character starts with just a bat to fight with, but mutates over time, gaining abilities and other powers to destroy mutants that come along the way.
Mutations with attack powers range from typical video game power-ups, like fire power, to the freakishly weird ability to throw your head off of your body. Other mutations can help you out with qualities such as stamina, health or damage bonuses. There’s enough of these to the point where you’ll never know what you’ll get on each run and it creates a variety in play you don’t always see in this genre.
The combat is addictive, and its fast-paced nature gradually becomes more difficult. You’ll find different challenges as your move set transforms, making certain situations easier while others stay just as hard. I would constantly pray to get one of the long-range abilities as these do wonders for getting me through most baddies, but they don’t detract from the challenge.
Rad plays smoothly but doesn’t run perfectly on the Switch. Loading screens are fast for a roguelike with the longest being no more than 20 seconds. Jumping feels delayed, yet using mutation abilities don’t, so this could just be a design decision. I’m not sure if this is the same on other platforms. The most obvious setback you’ll see on the Switch version is in the visuals; they’re especially blurry and pixelated in every scenario, far more so in handheld mode than while docked.
The art style merges a 3D environment with a comic book-like style and is pleasing to the eye, even with the graphical setbacks of this version. The hardcore electronic soundtrack never gets boring and keeps the energy up throughout.
You’ll want to check out Rad for its unique concept, addicting gameplay and beautiful style, you just may want to consider it on a different console. The Switch version has too many aesthetical issues for me to feel confident that it represents its true potential. Don’t be discouraged if you don’t — it still plays great and personally, I’m going to keep perfecting my runs to, maybe eventually, become rad.