Radio the Universe is a unique project that reminds me of Limbo, Home, and Sword & Sworcery, since it relies very heavily on its visual theme while telling its story and delivering high-quality gameplay. Made mainly by one person, this game has just the right dose of retro to get away with pixel art and an equal amount of innovation to make it stand apart from any game on the market. The developer has entirely finished the concepts for the game, even down to the extra areas and difficulty levels, and is using the Kickstarter to actually finish the process of making the game. If they actually succeed in making the game (because they’ve certainly succeeded in funding after just two days), they’ll have a game that sits well with survival horror games like Limbo, Silent Hill, and Resident Evil, but also with platformers like Fez, Super Meat Boy, and your choice of the Mario games.
The game preview dazzles with something few pixel games have—intricately animated cutscenes. You would expect the same amount of care from pixel art still images, not actual in-game animations. It shows that the artist, along with having very good design skill, is capable of making professional, emotional animations to go along with it. In the horror genre, this is a must, although it’s uncharacteristic for a platformer.
As for the actual gameplay, this game excels in picking an unusual method for jumping. Instead of making an isometric or a 3D game, the game is clearly a top-view tile-based game, similar to older Zelda games. Jumping is more about zooming to safe ground than it is about actually going the distance, and the game’s preview video shows that. You’re jumping from platform to platform, all on the same level, while dodging a plethora of area hazards. If I hadn’t read the Kickstarter page for more details, I would assume that it blends a bit of the BulletHell genre into it (not that that’s a bad thing). Coupled with the BulletHell element, you also have several different shields to keep you safe. Careful level design with balanced difficulty and save points is something the designer emphasizes, so the game shouldn’t be too punishing.
Like most survival stories, your character is alone…but not without company. Some kind of person or force is acting to drive you through the labyrinth city and explore the dangerous open-world environment. The character has ‘module-based’ progression, allowing you to organize upgrade pieces like a puzzle and occasionally unlock bonuses if you put the pieces in the right places. Although the game’s camera is from a birds-eye view, it’s also movable, and you are expected to foresee dangers off of the screen and inspect your surroundings before charging forward.
Overall, the game’s concept is sound, and the plethora of backers that made the project a success has confirmed this. If you want to grab a copy of the game, there’s still time to snag a copy from a campaign tier. Oh, and you can also have the developer pray to a star on your behalf as a tier, so that’s a plus.