Nuclear Throne (2015)

Developer: Vlambeer
Publisher: Vlambeer
Played On: PC (Steam)
Nuclear Throne Website

Five hours in and I have yet to sit on the Nuclear Throne. Not for lack of trying since each half decent run probably shaves a few months off my life from the stress of it all. I am easily rattled. All in all though the results don’t bother me. The whole excitement comes from the run currently. I have “dabbled” in other games based on developing runs such as Spelunky and The Binding of Isaac. By dabble I mean I have put 20+ hours in the various versions of The Binding of Isaac. A roguelike-like Zelda game where everything looked like a mix of cute and disgusting. That drew me into that game to see if I could push down one more floor and crush one more boss.
Desert Nuclear Throne
Nuclear Throne is different though. In BoI the fun comes purely from the gameplay. Here, that is absolutely in place but this is the first time the metagame has hooked me. My brother got latched onto Binding of Isaac’s meta like a newborn. This included watching hours and hours of Let’s Plays. The amount of times he beat the game made me uncomfortable. I didn’t get it. The game was real enjoyable but how did he get this much out of it? Well, Nuclear Throne wants to teach me it seems.
The game is a twin stick shooter, that I play with mouse and keyboard like a wimp, and a roguelike-like. With every level you gain you select a mutation that will help you as you progress through that run. Learning how to use these is essential to success. Sometimes you will just get dealt a bad hand. Happens. Other times though you get a good first roll on the four available mutations then it is off to the races. Get Bloodlust? Yeah, having a chance to gain health on every kill comes in handy. Being able to gain ammo off kills or keep ammo by landing hits doesn’t do you a whole lot of good in the desert but once you hit Frozen City that ability feels heavenly.
Dead Nuclear Throne
Then there are all the weapons along the way. There are several types of ammo with each having multiple weapons that can use them. Figuring out what abilities the guns have, sometimes you will grab a shotgun with explosive rounds or a grenade launcher that can blast toxic waste at enemies, and how much damage they deal is a worthwhile process. Having played through the first two areas many times I know how many shots it takes to kill all those enemies with most weapons. When first making it to the Frozen City I had to go through a whole readjustment with a whole new slate of enemies. This adds another layer on putting together the run. There are mutations that can enhance certain weapon types to boot. The two systems have a relationship and you can manage how beneficial it is to strengthen that bond.
Want to make clear I am bad at putting together mutations for sick runs. Watching a lengthy series of YouTube videos for Nuclear Thrones shows potential starting points I wasn’t aware existed. Crowns? What do crowns do? I have fallen in love with the idea though of getting to that point. Nothing wrong with that baby.

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