From the brilliant theme music through to the wonderfully weighted player movement, everything about Nuclear Throne is well put together. It's a simple concept; roguelike meets top-down shooter, set against a backdrop of mutated characters and post-apocalyptic wasteland.
It's a tough game, make no mistake, and mastery takes time and plenty of practice. But there's plenty of variety and a roguelike challenge that means procedurally generated levels keep things fresh on repeat attempts. There's a nice selection of characters on offer, and these characters all have very distinct powers/abilities, and this means there's plenty of different ways to express yourself within the admittedly limited scope of the game (more on that here).
Nuclear Throne has been in Early Access for some time now, and it's been an intriguing experience, both for the community, and for Vlambeer. For the the community, in particular those with an interest in game design, it's been a hugely interesting project, with regular livestreams of the development process, warts and all. For Vlambeer, it's been a chance for them to interact with their community on a previously unheard of level. It'd fair to say that all parties have done well out of the deal.
"Nuclear Throne has been an interesting ride - making a game this publicly is something that we've never attempted before, and seeing the community grow around it as we livestream development has been fascinating and inspiring," Vlambeer's Rami Ismail told us.
Weekly livestreaming has offered us insight into character design and game balancing. The roster of characters has grown throughout the year, and each one, along with their unique abilities, has a profound impact on the ebb and flow of the game, and watching that side of the development has been enlightening.
Equally, while it has been great for the community to see the game grow, the enthusiasm of players has in turn rubbed off on the studio: "There's so much to do, and we're really happy to have the community there with us because, especially the Wiki and the let's play videos that a bunch of the people do, they're so motivating, they give such a sense of direction and achievement, even while we're creating the game."
"This is the game that we're having the most fun working on, of all the games we've ever worked on, and that's quite a big deal," Rami Ismail told us when we interviewed him at an event earlier this year.
The game is now up to Update 53, and there's still plenty to do in terms of development and balancing, but it's coming along nicely, we can vouch for that. We asked what the plans are for next year: "For 2015, we hope we can finish Nuclear Throne and make it into the game the team and the community has hoped it'd become. Judging by the response so far, we're on the right track, and that's pretty reassuring."
The way that Vlambeer has gone about the Early Access development has been a breath of fresh air. Knowing that the foundations at the studio are solid and that they're not relying on sales to complete the title is reassuring, and their community engagement has been heartwarming.
2014 was a great year for the studio, with Nuclear Throne steadily growing in strength alongside the successful launch of the excellent shooter Luftrausers (if you haven't played that one, check it out). With the successes of this year under their collective belts, we're expecting another good showing from the studio in 2015, with Nuclear Throne set to be finished on PC, and then heading on to PS Vita and PS4.
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