Step into the shoes of a satanic Y2K cultist with Radio Viscera by Fire Face Corporation. The game opens with an accident where the protagonist narrowly survives being crushed only to be turned away at the airlock of the compound due to a tear in their protective suit. Unwilling to follow the order of disposing of the suit in a vat of goo while remaining inside it, the unnamed protagonist instead grabs an “air-powered excavation device” and goes on a rampage. What follows is a chaotic escape that is more bloody than what one would expect from someone wielding an air cannon.
Radio Viscera is a top-down shooter that replaces bullets with blasts of air that are strong enough to smash down walls. The cannon can also be used to knock away anyone standing in your way without hurting them. Unfortunately, the compound where the game takes place is filled with the type of lethal machinery that you would not want to touch, much less get flung into by an air cannon. This is bad news for anyone trying to get in your way but good news for players who enjoy violent, bloody, over-the-top action games.
Initially, Radio Viscera feels like a faster, more cartoony version of Crusader: No Remorse, one of the classic nineties games from the Origin Systems era. The game doesn’t take itself very seriously, though. Instead of carefully navigating the levels while trying to pick off small groups of enemies, you pretty much wade in air cannon blazing. Since the air cannon itself is non-lethal, the only way to eliminate enemies is to shoot them into the myriad of traps that litter the levels. These range from spinning blades and walls of spikes to grinders, crushers, and even acid pools. Knocking a foe into one of these traps not only results in a shower of blood but also starts a combo meter and rewards you with one bar of health. This makes it very obvious that if you want to keep your health full and score high, you will need to kill as many enemies as possible as quickly as possible. Another incentive to be fast is that your character can only survive three shots from enemies, and they won’t hesitate to shoot you if given half a chance.
As fun as shooting enemies into traps is, you’ll want to take care not to become a victim of these traps yourself. Venture too close to a trap, and it spells instant death for your character too. Later levels make things even harder for you as armored characters who are immune to certain traps begin to appear. Eventually, you’ll have to face off against heavily armored enemies that can knock you into traps when they charge at you.
Dying in Viscera Radio sends you back to the last checkpoint, but fortunately, these are not spaced too far apart. The fact that you regain a block of health for each enemy you kill also means you can always make a comeback even if you are down to your last hit. Watch out for trying to make too many shots in succession, though, as your air cannon has a cooldown gauge that could leave you vulnerable if you are not careful.
Radio Viscera is the work of a solo developer, so the visuals are not going to blow anyone away. However, the game does look unique, and the physics-based combat makes everything even more chaotic. There’s nothing like barging into a room through the hole you shot in the wall and then flinging enemies through glass panes into traps. The action is viewed from an overhead perspective, and the camera does a decent job, but occasionally we did miss not having the option to move it around ourselves. It is especially annoying to get shot by an offscreen enemy or one lurking in a room where you can’t see them because the roof is blurred until you enter. In terms of graphical options, players can set the shadow quality and antialiasing levels as well as enable features such as depth of field and ambient occlusion. We did have to disable the screen shake option, though, as it can become very distracting. The game is spread across several levels that take you from areas like the safety department and waste treatment to cryptozoology, upper management, underground and more. We also have to mention the automatic GIF generator featured at the end of each level, which allows you to save some of your best moments.
Although Radio Viscera does not have traditional speech, it uses distorted sounds for the voices of some characters, which fits with the theme of the game. The music is also a good match for the action, as are the sound effects, especially the one that plays when you knock an enemy into a trap. Radio Viscera is playable with either a keyboard and mouse or a controller, and we actually found the latter to be the most comfortable. However, because of the ragdoll physics, it can sometimes be tricky to line up enemies with traps, which is frustrating if multiple ones are shooting at you. The game compensates for this by traps sucking enemies in if they are close enough, but it is still easy for your foes to get shot into awkward corners. It is even worse if the camera obscures these corners and you suddenly get shot from seemingly nowhere.
Radio Viscera is a fast-paced game, but it also gives players a reason to slow down and explore a bit. Your character is equipped with a radar that points in the direction of your next objective, but ignoring it and heading in a different direction comes with its own rewards. Hidden throughout the levels are collectibles, such as safety posters and mutators that can be found. Finding these helps to unlock the 14 outfits and 25 accessories that are available to customize your character. The mutators also add some interesting variations to the game when enabled and range from harmless things like big head or big gun mode to more exotic fare like roller-blades and exploding enemies. Interspersed with all the action levels, there are a few outdoor areas that are devoid of enemies. Players can rush through these to find the exit or explore a bit and find the observation platforms that show hints about the whereabouts of mutators on other levels. Since the game also has a level select, it’s easy to return to previous levels and find all the collectibles. The inclusion of leaderboards for each level also adds some replay value.
Overall, Radio Viscera is a fun title, even though it has a couple of rough edges here and there. Fans of top-down shooters will have a blast with the game, and the number of traps and creative ways to kill enemies make up for the fact that you only ever have one weapon. The game is also pretty accessible, despite not having an option to change the difficulty. Novice players can focus on getting through a level, while more experienced players can work on their combos and aim for a high score along the way. We enjoyed our time with the game enough to go back and replay the levels for the collectibles even after completing the main quest. It’s a fun, chaotic, over-the-top, and tongue-in-cheek experience with plenty of action and laughs along the way.
- OS: Windows XP
- Processor: Intel Core i5 2.3 Ghz or equivalent
- Memory: 1 GB RAM
- Graphics: Intel UHD Graphics 630
- Storage: 500 MB available space
- Sound Card: Optional
- Additional Notes: Graphics hardware must support OpenGL 3.3
- OS: Windows 10
- Processor: Intel Core i7 3.0 Ghz or equivalent
- Memory: 4 GB RAM
- Graphics: Nvidia GeForce GTX 1060, AMD Radeon RX 570
- Storage: 500 MB available space
- Additional Notes: Gamepad recommended