A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this game.
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, rebirth.
Positive Role Models
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 is 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 on-screen 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 in story progress.
Violence & Scariness
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. Defeated creatures sometimes leave puddles of colorful liquid behind after they die.
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Mild and infrequent profanity runs through the story, with words including "damn," "ass," "s--t," and "bitchin'."
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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.
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 on-screen 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 -- help 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 farther 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.
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