Reviews - Updated on April 9, 2022

RAD would be a fairly ordinary “bagel” about the harsh everyday life in a post-apocalyptic setting, if the game was not made by Double Fine Productions. Therefore, there are two apocalypses here at once, the world that survived all this is made in the style of the 80s, and the heroes, similar to typical teenagers, breakdancers and punks of those years, can kill enemies with their own mutated head, throwing it like a bomb. But was there enough branded humor for a truly interesting “bagel”?

Floppy disks are useful again!

You always expect an interesting story from any Double Fine game, but in RAD it is mainly hidden in notes and diaries (the so-called Book of the Ancients), which, as you progress, are gradually replenished with new texts about the characters and the history of the world.

The plot is extremely simple and traditional for “bagels” – and is somewhat similar to what we saw in Mutant Year Zero: Road to Eden. There is a settlement of survivors that needs resources from the wild Wastes, where, however, not a detachment of stalkers is sent, but only one volunteer from among the settlers. Saving is allowed only in the city – there is an Elder, characters capable of issuing some kind of side quest, a merchant and a local ATM where you can deposit money earned during attacks in the Wasteland.

More precisely, we do not earn money, but old VHS cassettes that fall out of monsters. It is cassettes that are considered the main currency here, for which merchants (and they are found not only in the city, but also in the Wasteland) need to buy useful items – from potions that temporarily increase the chance of a critical strike to artifacts and equipment.

We also find or buy floppy disks – the same ones from the time of the first “Pentiums”. For them, you can open chests with the same consumables, cassettes, artifacts and equipment items that give permanent passive effects – for example, double the influx of capital, allow you to make double jumps, walk painlessly on fiery or radiation-contaminated surfaces, give a chance to save some of the cassettes even after the death of a hero, and so on.

RAD game review

In addition to the main campaign, there are also daily challenges with ratings and special game rules – for example, reduced health can drop, but increased damage.

Post-apocalyptic ATMs

There are many such funny references to the 80s and 90s in RAD, but the local radioactive wastelands themselves do not stand out in any way. And the fact that two catastrophes happened in this world at once does not affect anything (well, except for the history of the setting described in the notes). There are a lot of all sorts of mutated creatures, overgrown scorpions spitting poison or fire, green pools and burning surfaces into which it is better not to step foot. And rusty skeletons of cars, tires, some furniture, discarded TVs …

At the same time, the world in RAD is not open. All locations are separate maps, on each of which we perform the same sequence of actions. First you need to break through the crowds of monsters and activate several pedestals, after which a passage to the level boss will open. Having defeated him, we can return to the settlement or immediately go to the next map.

It is better, of course, to first run to your native land – you can save there, buy a potion and hand over all the collected cassettes to a local ATM. And this is important, because after the death of the hero, all his achievements are irretrievably lost, including levels, artifacts, mutations and money. And if you have time to hand over the cassettes to an ATM, then the next time you play, the new hero will be able to withdraw this amount and immediately get a certain advantage by buying something useful. In addition, progress is expressed in the fact that some items found in one campaign during a new outing will immediately become available in stores or in the list of trophies dropped from monsters.

Beat your enemies with their own weapons. And tail

However, the most useful thing for surviving in RAD is, as you already understood, mutations that externally change the hero beyond recognition and give him a variety of abilities. A young man with a Mohawk and in a denim jacket or a girl in a helmet (the characters differ only in skins) gradually grow tails, thorns, snake heads, wings, poisonous legs and the devil knows what else.RAD game review

Only one consumable item can be carried at a time.

You can beat with a tail, or you can spit out small cuttlefish from it, which will fight with you. The serpent’s head is meant to frighten and bite from a distance, while the venomous limbs leave behind a green acid that injures foes who step into it. There are also boomerang arms that come off, telepathic brains that you need to throw at enemies to temporarily win them over to your side, and much more.

We earn active mutations when we get new levels, and when special statues are activated, passive ones are opened that increase lives or give additional effects to existing abilities. Passives also drop from defeated bosses. But what kind of mutation you will receive is impossible to predict.

Matter of chance

In RAD, as is customary in roguelikes, a lot depends on luck. Locations, enemies, chests, a set of artifacts and mutations – everything changes with each new outing. As usual, you have to die often. And if you are not lucky, then even more often.

During one run, you will constantly stumble upon merchants, chests, cassettes and pieces of healing meat falling from monsters (it, of course, restores health), and also get very useful mutations like a bomb head. And the next time it will be exactly the opposite, and even the boss will come across exactly the one with whom it is better not to get close – and your mutations are just focused on close combat. Yes, yes, it seemed to me that some abilities in RAD were frankly more useful and effective than others – for example, in my cases, long-range mutations were cooler.

RAD game review

That’s for sure – “toxic player”!

The local combat system is not so flexible and diverse that it is possible to pull out heavy fights only on sleight of hand, reflexes and combo attacks. First of all, I’m talking about boss fights, which, due to the above reasons, can be very difficult in one sortie, and much easier in another. There is a normal and enhanced bat (it would not hurt, by the way, more variety in the arsenal!), A running jump and the ability to jump, and then fall to the ground, demolishing everyone around. At the same time, almost all locations are hanging somewhere in the space of the island, so you need to jump carefully, otherwise you will easily fall into the abyss and lose a lot of nerves and health.

humor jokes

But for all mutations, whether they are useful or not, the inhabitants of the settlement of survivors react in a funny way. If you have poisonous legs, then you will be told something along the lines of “Sorry, something is dripping from you!”. If instead of a head there is a skull-bomb, then they will ask if everything is in order with your head. And once the Elder asked my character, who was overgrown with thorns, not to stab or accidentally cut one of the locals. Such details, which change depending on the type of character, look very cool.

And in general, there are a lot of funny things in RAD. For example, there are representatives of the religious sect of the Followers of Cathod, who worship ancient tube TVs and believe that when God 2.0 starts broadcasting, they will receive his signal. Or a mutant with goat horns and hooves, who has set up an experimental farm in the settlement and now asks to get something for him. And the Elder controls all the complex structures of the Ancients with the help of a typical synthesizer that appeared in the videos of many musical groups of the 80s.

We obviously do not think with our heads in such fights!

***

RAD is far from the first game where the main character gradually mutates before our eyes: this happened in Blood Magic, Darkspore or in the already mentioned Mutant Year Zero: Road to Eden. But in those games, as a rule, we can control these mutations ourselves and develop / maintain them in the chosen direction. And here the share of randomness is great even by the standards of “bagels” – almost all progress is reset in each new outing, and what we get in return is unknown. This is both a gift and a curse of the game: on the one hand, you never know what awaits you, and on the other hand, connoisseurs of more thoughtful control over the character will obviously not like this approach.

Pros: humor, style, interesting setting and funny characters; overall fun gameplay based on fighting, exploration, leveling and gathering; very different and sometimes unexpected mutations; nice picture; nostalgic music in the style of the 80s.

Cons: too much depends on the “random”; in fact, there is no control over the direction in which the character develops; a small arsenal of weapons; weak animation.

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