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RAD

Game review by
Chad Sapieha, Common Sense Media
RAD Game Poster Image
Tough post-apocalypse action game with a bit of blood.

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A lot or a little?

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

Positive Messages

The story suggests human irresponsibility will lead to some sort of civilization-ending apocalypse and that survival of the species will eventually fall to children. Running themes include courage, self-sacrifice, and rebirth.

Positive Role Models & Representations

The player's character sacrifices his or her humanity in an attempt to ensure the survival of humans. He or she also knows and accepts that the mission's essentially suicidal, but forges ahead regardless. The bravery and selflessness are praiseworthy, but the disregard for personal safety is concerning.

Ease of Play

This game is easy to learn but tough to win. The controls are tight and intuitive, with persistent onscreen cues showing how to perform special moves. But players lose nearly everything upon death, starting over from scratch in terms of both items and abilities as well as story progress.

Violence

Players use melee weapons such as bats, as well as magic-like mutant abilities (exploding skulls, massively overgrown arms, insect-like legs, energized boomerangs) to fight off aggressive mutated monsters. The player's character occasionally bleeds small drops of red blood, and defeated creatures sometimes leave puddles of colorful liquid behind after they die.

Sex
Language

Mild and infrequent profanity runs through the story, with words including "damn," "ass," "s--t," and "bitchin'."

Consumerism
Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that RAD is a downloadable post-apocalyptic action game for the PlayStation 4, Xbox One, Nintendo Switch, and Windows PCs. The gameplay is viewed from a raised, isometric perspective. Players take on the role of a teenager who battles mutated monsters while slowly becoming a mutant him or herself and striding toward almost inevitable death, all in order to help save humanity from going extinct. Combat involves bats and various magic-like mutant-powered attacks, such as tossing exploding skulls and dropping plants that suck in enemies. Foes typically dissolve into nothingness, sometimes leaving pools of colorful liquid behind. Dialogue includes occasional instances of mild profanity, including "s--t." Parents should also be aware that while this is an easy game to learn, making headway is hard. Players lose all progress upon death (save a handful of unlocked items and any currency deposited in a bank) and are forced to start over more or less from scratch, which could prove frustrating for some kids.

User Reviews

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What's it about?

RAD puts players in the shoes of teenagers living in a post-apocalyptic world who sacrifice everything -- including their humanity and their lives -- on a mission to help save the remaining survivors. Players pick an avatar from a small cast of premade characters, and that character volunteers to be "remade" so that he or she can survive the toxins of the wasteland. What that really means is that the hero can be easily and quickly mutated, growing bizarre appendages, transforming their appearance, and gaining new abilities, such as being able to toss explosive skulls. These abilities come in handy as the player fights various mutated monsters while exploring the wasteland, solves simple puzzles, and collects old cassettes and floppy disks which are used, respectively, as currency and keys to locks. Eventually the player's character is bound to fall and die, at which point the game jumps back to the hub village and players take control of another teen who takes up the mantle. World exploration progress is reset, and all items and currency are lost, save for what the previous hero deposited in the bank or unlocked. The adventure then begins again in a new randomly generated world with the hope that this young hero will be the one to complete the quest to save humanity.

Is it any good?

Imagine a cross between classic dungeon crawlers -- such as Diablo III -- and games with random world generation -- like The Binding of Isaac -- and you know what you're in for here. RAD has a terrific sense of style, sporting fun character and world design, a narrator with a comically baritone voice and an endless repository of slang terminology, and a soundtrack filled with original songs clearly inspired by late 1980s pop music. It's also easy to get into, with intuitive controls for movement and attacks and persistent onscreen directions to remind you of what's currently in your constantly changing arsenal of attacks and abilities. Those attacks and abilities seem almost endless, thanks to a huge array of possible mutations and augmentations, which -- along with the randomly generated worlds -- helps ease the sense of repetition when your character dies and you're forced to restart from scratch.

That said, there's still an undeniable deflation that occurs when you eventually succumb to the horrors of the wasteland. Whether you had a particular love for specific mutations you acquired or managed to get further along in your quest than ever before, you're bound to wish you could just go back to a save point a few moments before your death so that you could try again and keep all that you've earned. Thankfully, the developers aren't so heartless that they strip players of everything upon death. You can deposit cassettes in the bank that remain available as currency for future heroes, and when you die, you're shown a sort of achievement-like list of things you've unlocked that are accessible (for a cost) to the next teenager to take on the quest. RAD is a blast to start, filled with little smile-inducing details and a sense of discovery. Whether that feeling persists over the long haul will depend on the player's reaction to getting repeatedly kicked back to the starting line.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about screen time. Once RAD sinks its hooks in it can be hard to stop playing as we're constantly lured to try just one more run, so what do you use as a marker or reminder to take a break or quit playing?

  • Sacrificing something you have or want for the benefit of others is hard, so how do people go about making such a difficult decision?

Game details

Themes & Topics

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