It’s hard to know if Radiant is a brave and brutally uncompromising title or if it's just poorly designed in places. We’re inclined to go with the former possibility, but only because its flaws are most certainly nods to gaming’s past, as opposed to grievous oversights.
Borrowing heavily and almost exclusively from Space Invaders, Radiant is an open love letter to the games today’s thirty-somethings played as children.
It’s packed with knowing references to an era long gone, such as when Commander Norton jumps in after you clear your first asteroid field to say, "Beautiful, Max. It reminded me of mindless blasting forward and it felt good." Indeed, it is mindless and it does feel good.Fire at will
You take control of a small ship which you use to battle a formidable procession of glowing, multi-coloured aliens. The only control you have over the events of the game is to move your ship left and right by tapping the respective sides of the screen.
The ship fires automatically, so like many arcade iterations of the same formula the aim is to position your ship so as to fire on the enemies or avoid asteroids or aliens that invade your immediate space.
There are pick-ups to be had that alter the rate and potency of your fire, as well as credits which can be spent at key points on upgrading your abilities.Groundhog Day
The big issue with Radiant is also one of its charming retro quirks. When you lose all three lives, it’s back to the start. This undermines the amusing narrative which is threaded through the levels, where you, Max Blaster, and the aforementioned Commander Norton exchange banter, fleshing out a simple plot.
The harsh, three-tries-you're-out approach is clearly a decision that reflects Hexage’s affection for retro games, but it does cause undue frustration that could be solved by the minor concession of checkpoints or even - gasp - a save system.
Then again, perhaps that would cost Radiant some of its purity. From the deliberately pixelated graphics to the tinny sound effects, there is something profoundly artistic about its mix of knowing aesthetics and stubborn lack of compromise.
Chances are, if you’ve liked games for any length of time Radiant at the very least will make you smile a wistful smile for days gone by, which for 99c/59p, is a modern day bargain.