Nuclear Throne

Game review by
David Wolinsky, Common Sense Media
Nuclear Throne Game Poster Image
Deep arcade-like shooter has lots of cartoonish violence.

Parents say

age 10+
Based on 2 reviews

Kids say

age 10+
Based on 2 reviews

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this game.

Positive Messages

Nonexistent positive messages; action focuses on fighting mutants.

Positive Role Models & Representations

Nothing known about playable characters beyond their stats. They simply shoot other characters to survive -- no other morality implied.

Ease of Play

Simple controls, easy to learn.


Corpses can be used as explosive projectiles. Lots of red and green blood, mangled remains, and audible death rattles when enemies are killed. Very gory, but impact limited due to cartoonish visuals.

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Nuclear Throne is a grisly downloadable dungeon-crawling or "roguelike" shooter. It focuses on mutants duking it out in a postapocalyptic landscape across a series of diverse, randomly generated set pieces. It's designed to look and feel like a game from the 1990s, an era when challenge was emphasized over realistic graphics or Hollywood-style storytelling. In line with games from that era, the game is cartoonishly violent and very challenging. Players will see lots of red and green blood along with mangled remains and will hear death cries from enemies. Corpses also can be used as explosive projectiles, but the impact of the violence is limited because of the cartoonish visuals. Nuclear Throne also is still in Early Access on Steam, meaning more content is being developed and rolled out to the consumer version; it's an evolving product and not yet fully finished.

User Reviews

  • Parents say
  • Kids say
Adult Written byNuclearFish June 28, 2015

Fish Can Roll.

Fish Can roll.
Steroids Can Dual Weild
Robot can eat guns
Adult Written bybuketserefli February 2, 2015
Teen, 14 years old Written bykloppi August 7, 2020

The gore just doesn’t look like gore

There are dead bodies and red and green blood, but the gore is incredibly limited by the art style, which is pixel art. Think of it this way: on games with real... Continue reading
Kid, 11 years old October 21, 2016

Hard, cartoonishly violent game satisfies

I play some hard games. Mirror's Edge, Portal 2, Undertale (the bullet hell can be difficult) and this. But I have invested 50 hours and have gotten to the... Continue reading

What's it about?

In NUCLEAR THRONE, players choose from one of a handful of character classes; blast enemies such as giant rats, maggots, shotgun-wielding ravens, and cowboy-hat-wearing robots; and do it again on the next level. The emphasis here is on strategically advancing through each stage by utilizing each character class's unique abilities (for example, the rogue can unleash a rolling wave of explosions but must deal with an interdimensional police force chasing her). As you play, you can "cash in" radiation to enhance your stats. Nuclear Throne is about army-crawling to survival, further enhancing your character, and winning firefights to sit on the titular chair.

Is it any good?

Younger players may not connect with Nuclear Throne's dated visuals, but the difficulty assures anyone a well-earned sense of accomplishment after advancing to the next level. What seems like "another" retro-style game is actually a title with plenty of nuance and strategy -- especially when you notice the game adapts to your experimentation. For instance, if you scoop up every power-up, you'll be thrown tougher enemies at a more unrelenting clip. This gets even thornier -- in a good way! -- when you factor in the dozen mutants you can play as. Some are far more difficult to unlock than others, but they all have considerable trade-offs and perks. For example, Melting starts with a max of two hit points but gains far more experience with every kill.

As the variety of playable characters implies, there's lots of ways to die in this game. It’s all very cartoony, making the explosions, violence, and spraying bullets (or slashing swords) more funny than shocking. It’s gory but nowhere near as brutal as a shooter and certainly no worse than your average mayhem-filled episode of Looney Tunes. Regardless, it's a race to accumulate buffs between stages after collecting enough experience, balancing your play style against your character's inherent strengths and weaknesses. It all adds up to making running and gunning not only exciting but also thought-provoking. A rare balance and a true achievement.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about the difference between real-world violence and cartoon violence. Does a game all about shooting influence your behavior or feelings about violence in the real world? Do you think cartoonish violence is as dangerous as realistic violence?

  • Talk about Nuclear Throne's graphics. Why would a company or players want a game that intentionally doesn't strive for realism?

  • Discuss the idea of being a marginalized member of society. Though the outcast-mutant premise seems far-fetched, what elements that resemble reality does Nuclear Throne have?

  • Talk about the need to improvise strategy as a mode of critical thinking in a game. Are there ways these newly created tactics can be carried into day-to-day life?

Game details

Our editors recommend

For kids who love action

Themes & Topics

Browse titles with similar subject matter.

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