In Nuclear Throne, your goal is simple: reach the Nuclear Throne. It’s a brutal mix of fast-paced, top-down action, random generation, permadeath, and player choice — and honestly, you probably won’t stand a chance. More than anything, the result of your run will be seven simple words: “You did not reach the Nuclear Throne.”
To the two of us at Vlambeer and the four others who have been working on the game for the past 2.5 years, there’s something exciting about making a game that’s intentionally mean to you in every possible way, without becoming unfair. When we set out to make this game, we wanted to make a game that would be fun to play for us as its creators — something even we couldn’t fully predict.
Nuclear Throne did that, and then we made it harder and added more content. We continued adding little mean things to the game until eventually our gaming skills were pushed to the absolute limit. We didn’t stop pushing until we saw that dreaded “Did Not Reach” pop up because of mimics we forgot about while playing, or enemies that snuck up on us and ended our runs with a single well-placed hit.
In Nuclear Throne, you choose one of twelve mutants to reach that Nuclear Throne. Each of them has a passive and an active ability — sometimes simple, such as a temporary shield or higher ammo drops, and sometimes ridiculous, such as interdimensional airstrikes and the ability to fight on as a headless chicken after you die. When you get better at the game, you will get access to their own powerful Throne Butt or even more powerful Ultra abilities for your current run.
A mutant can carry two weapons at once, and there are approximately 125 weapons in Nuclear Throne. Some of them are the usual fare, pistols, machineguns, screwdrivers, laserguns — and some of them are completely over the top — things like gatling sluggers, super plasma guns, and the golden nuke launcher. Either way, power isn’t everything — the more powerful weapons take longer to reload and use more ammo, and if you run out of ammo, you’re going to have a pretty pathetic end to your run.
As you kill enemies and bosses in the wastelands, your mutant will gain radiation — or rads — that help your mutant achieve mutations. There are almost 30 mutations in the game — but you’ll only get to pick from a random selection of four at any time. Some of them are fun, some of them are practical, and some of them are very situational.
Scarier Face is a good one to come across, because it lowers the health on every enemy you come across. Impact Wrists — which increases the force your weaponry has on enemies, slinging them further away — works wonders when you’re playing with the mutant Melting, whose active ability allows you to blow up corpses from a distance. Or you might want to avoid Euphoria when you’re playing as Crystal, because her shield ability reflects bullets, and Euphoria slows down all projectiles in the game.
And that’s just the core of Nuclear Throne. As you struggle to figure out a way to beat the game’s areas and bosses, there are dozens of useful and less useful secrets to find — things called crowns, secret characters, areas, endings, cursed weapons, and all sorts of mysterious meta.
There are dozens of ways to enhance your run, or to make it harder. And if you feel like you’re ready to show off, we’ve got you covered, too. Play couch co-op with a friend, or participate in our daily challenge and a weekly challenge to show off your skills against everybody else.
Nuclear Throne will have an exclusive console launch on PlayStation platforms, and we’re looking forward to seeing how you do not reach the Throne.