Game Mechanics Analysis: Nuclear Throne

Nuclear Throne is a top-down shooter roguelike developed and published by Vlambeer in 2015, with early builds being released as early as 2013. The game follows a group of mutants living in a post-apocalyptic world, searching for the legendary Nuclear Throne.

Unlike Vlambeer’s other game Gun Gods, which had a playstyle similar to the original Doom, Nuclear Throne is not a first-person game. The game mechanics revolve around clearing enemies from a randomly generated rooms, each increasing in difficulty as you go on. Every three levels there is a boss that must be defeated before you move on to the next area. Enemies will shoot at you as you move around the level, turning it into a sort of bullet-hell with a lot of dodging.

Example of how many bullets you’ll have to dodge during the early levels of the game.

Nuclear Throne can be a difficult, unforgiving game, and that’s all part of its design. Failure to reach the Throne only fuels you to try harder the next round. While some players might fight it more infuriating than anything else, this game is built for those who are eager to prove to themselves that they can overcome a challenge.

Official artwork of the game’s first boss, Big Bandit.
Official artwork of the fifth area in the game, the Frozen City.

Each character brings their own unique skills and abilities to the table, catering to many different playstyles. The first character you can play as, Fish, can roll (a fact that the game is seemingly very proud of). Other abilities include Crystal’s shield, Eyes’s telekinesis, and Yung Venuz’s ‘pop pop’ (two bullets for the price of one).

There are many secrets and extras hidden throughout the game. These range from alternate skins, new characters, and even entirely new areas. One of the more interesting secret levels involves hijacking a police van from the Inter-Dimensional Police Department, using it to hop dimensions and storm their headquarters.

Official artwork of the IDPD.

Here is a link to one of Vlambeer’s official pages with a lot more information about the game: https://www.vlambeer.com/press/sheet.php?p=Nuclear_Throne

Madison
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