Radia feels more like a toy than a game to me, and I like it.
The word ‘game’ generally brings to mind points, levels, objectives, and competition. Radia certainly meets what many consider to be the minimum requirements for gamehood, and yet its tactile nature and inherent simplicity makes Radia play out like a fantastical version of a marble labyrinth.
Radia sports the neon graphical style of many new wave arcade titles, and the entire objective of the game is to tilt the device to move a circle about a glowing maze and collect orbs. Not only do walls impede the player’s progress, but spinning (and glowing) saws ping-pong about the environment. Running in to one such saw means instant death for the player.
Tilt to collect orbs, and avoid saws; Radia isn’t too far gone from a deconstructed game of Geometry Wars 2′s famed Pacifism mode. There are sparsely placed power-ups to help the player gain some footing in the struggle to collect orbs, but for the most part the player’s primary defense is evasion. Fortunately Radia has the tight controls that its chosen mechanics require. Tilting the device to move is tuned to the perfect sensitivity, and the circle’s interaction with the maze’s obstacles have the physicality that one would expect.
Unfortunately, while the user must play by the rules, the saws don’t. The saws freely pass through obstacles that the player cannot. This, coupled with the saws’ random placement, adds a frustrating element of unpredictability to the game. Players must look ahead to watch a saw’s path, while also minding the walls on their way to grab an orb. And because orbs are placed in the same location each round, there is always the chance of the saws covering an orb right as the player is about to collect it.
I understand that forcing the saws to abide by the same physical rules that the player must would lead to situations where a saw is stuck in a loop with the potential to block the player. Perhaps the saws would have been better suited to following a fixed path; the game already encourages memorization with the fixed placement of orbs. The element of improvisation that the saws add to the game isn’t enough to overcome the fact that they can create impossible scenarios for the player.
Frustrations with enemy movement don’t drag the game down entirely, if anything they add an addictive element to keep playing one more round. The game offers a survival mode in addition to the single player levels, of which there are currently 50, but I don’t think I will find myself repeatedly picking it up.
In a sea of arcade style games on the app store, Radia does little to stand out. However; I don’t want to sound negative about Radia, it does some things really well, and for 99 cents it provides a toy-like experience that will keep you busy over the course of a few train rides.
Radia is available on the App Store for $.99