GDC 2019 Hands-On IMPRESSIONS: RAD

Tuesday, March 26th, 2019

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RAD | Logo

Publisher(s): BANDAI NAMCO
Platform(s): Switch, PlayStation 4/PlayStation 4 Pro, Xbox One/Xbox One X, PC (Steam)
Release Date: Summer 2019
Official Website / Website (Closed Beta Access)


With a Nintendo Direct announcement last week, Double Fine and BANDAI NAMCO’s latest title, RAD, debuted for gameplay at GDC 2019. A third-person procedurally-generated rogue-like title, RAD takes place in a ‘twice ruined’ world where you play as an a person who has to survive and bring new life to the world. Speaking with one of the developers at GDC, I was told that each level is approximately fifteen to thirty minutes and the game has been in production for just over a year before GDC 2019.

The first thing to know about RAD is that it is expected that you will die often and there is perma-death. That said, as you fight and jump throughout the environment in RAD, you will absorb radiation. Once the radiation meter is capped out, you obtain a new power (up to a maximum of three) or one of your current powers goes up a level. When you die, you not only lose that character and the various powers obtained, but the map is (again) regenerated and you have to start over. In addition to these radiation powers, you can also obtain up to six internal mutations that will further augment your character- I wound up with a tapeworm mutation that incrementally increases my health while I’m in the game.

RAD | Wasteland

RAD takes place in a procedurally-generated world where permadeath is real and there are many powers to experience and use as you restore life to the world. (Images courtesy of BANDAI NAMCO.)

RAD | Wasteland

RAD itself was fun and extremely unpredictable. I died a handful of times, and I was able to experience different powers (and how those powers can potentially be used one after another to take down enemies) that made each randomized character play differently. Honestly though, that is what makes the game unique in the rouge-like genre: instead of just slowly overpowering one character for the entire game with one set of powers that I chose, I was assigned a set of powers that I would only have until death, and then I would have another set that I would have to gain and utilize. This forced me to continually alter my playstyle in RAD, and I can see it (along with the procedurally generated environments) to have high replay value. The regular combat without these radiation powers, though, is fairly basic and works as expected. Swing, hit, damage. All fairly simple and classic fare. The game aesthetics are definitely classic Double Fine as well, with clear graphical influences from prior Double Fine titles (especially BrĂ¼tal Legend) and a powerful 1980’s aesthetic and sound.

RAD | Underground

Not only will the world and the obtainable powers be procedurally-generated in RAD, but the enemies placement will be too. (Image courtesy of BANDAI NAMCO).

Finally, I would be remiss if I didn’t mention the fact that as your character walks around the world in RAD, you leave behind a trail of plants behind. This why-didn’t-they-include-this sooner feature serves two purposes: it lets you know where you’ve already been and it also gives your character a ‘speed boost’ when you back over that prior pathway. This helped to minimize my confusion in where I’ve been in RAD and also helped to make backtracking quicker as well.

RAD | Plant Trails

The plant trails in RAD, showing where you’ve been and providing a speed boost when you backtrack, are a novel touch to gameplay. (Image courtesy of BANDAI NAMCO).

RAD is due out in Summer 2019, and I am excited to play it when it launches and see what crazy radiation powers I will wind up with. In the meantime, you can register for the upcoming RAD beta here.



Are you excited for the latest game from Double Fine? What radiation powers are you hoping to experience?

Let us know in the comments below!

About Quentin H.

Likes pina coladas and getting caught in the rain. And video games. Cannot forget those video games. Anime too. Should not forget that either.