Radius by Dan Ruscoe – What We Think
Slight on presentation, Radius relies on two simple physical principles to carry its premise.
Beam a Little Beam
The Radial Transit Beam consists of a mechanized wheel capable of rolling left and right across the screen. It is also equipped with a device that emits a point of solidified light. Once activated, moving away from that point creates a beam. Pressing the launch button will launch the wheel, using the original beam of light as a pivot point. This skill is used to cross chasms, launching over enemies and reaching higher ground.
It can also be used as a means of manipulating items. By attaching the initial point of light to a movable object, the player can move it along the pivot point created by the wheel. Move crates into otherwise uncrossable expanses, and voila! Instant bridge.
The game will take players through a test run of the device that will involve a warehouse, a factory, and a science lab. Each region is broken down into five levels, but they are all accessible at any time from the level select menu.
Failure to Launch
The control scheme relies on touchscreen inputs, and are fairly unreliable. By far, one of the most frustrating experiences is trying to launch over a moving enemy. This should be a task that comes down to the proper judgment of time and distance. It does not. Time and time again, the launch button refuses to register, and the player is forced to start the level again. Add in the slowdown (described in the next paragraph), and it gets maddening pretty quick.
When played on the Motorola Atrix, the game suffered from significant slowdown when any more than three moving parts were displayed on screen, with the action grinding to a near halt until these areas were cleared. The wheel would roar off at proper speed once again the instant the data-bottleneck had been cleared.
The game has no music to accompany the action, and a scant two sound effects. The player will hear when the wheel is rolling, and when a pivot on a beam is launched, and that is it. There are no death sounds, no grinding of factory gears, and no buzzing of powerful science orbs. The tile-based construction of the levels may be practical from a design stance, but when drops of acid appear out of nowhere, and beams of electricity have a nice square edge in the tile next to the point its emanating from, suspension of disbelief just doesn’t cover it.
Beyond all this, there is very little point to the game. Start at point A, get to point B, rinse, repeat. Testing a prototype of a laser-guided Goodyear just doesn’t make for a very exciting story without anything else to build it up, and Radius just doesn’t offer up anything beyond the cold, hard, sterile basics.