The year is 1943. You were having a fantastic day in your highly-paid, no-questions-asked US Navy post until you took part in the top secret ‘Philadelphia Project’. It was supposed to make the ships invisible to radar but something went terribly wrong and suddenly an entire island materializes out of thin air next to the USS Eldridge. As you run across the deck, you too begin shifting in and out of existence, ending up ashore of the mysterious island, a few seconds before witnessing your mighty example of naval firepower vanish from sight.
You are now stranded with nothing in your person in this eerie place. In the distance, you make out a Tesla Coil tower discharging energy to… somewhere. However, when you begin looking around your immediate surroundings, nothing in your years of naval training could possibly prepare you for this. Adrenalin rushes through your body as fear takes a hold of your reasoning; You are now in… 'The Early Access Zone’.
Atypical Games Radiation Island is primarily a survival game with some big aspirations (not many games in this category let you fly on a para-glider). If you are familiar with the genre, you will quickly find your footing in this mysterious place by doing the usual tasks expected from this sub-genre; you must gather resources in order to keep starvation, the cold of night or the local wildlife at bay, preventing the later from turning you into their next meal.
If you are new to this genre, the game gently eases you in all the proceedings via tutorials to make sure you end up understanding the core concepts of gathering, crafting and surviving a night on this hostile piece of land. Within a dozen minutes you will know how to gather resources, craft tools, weapons and clothing, feed yourself, use fire to both keep you warm at night and fend off the local fauna. From this point onward and with the basic concepts down you are free to explore the generously huge island and surrounding ocean, trying to piece together the mystery surrounding this place.
Sadly, this is where the game falls completely apart. Of course, we're not expecting every developer to have the resources needed to make AAA quality games - even more so when you consider the mobile origins of this product. As such we do not hold against it the usage of low detail, low polygon assets with some very basic animation cycles (including your own virtual representation, which you will only find out if you use the third person view). However (among far too many other examples) when we were tracking a wolf and we ended up running in circles around a tree until we realized the wolf was inside the tree (after the poor creature’s low poly count snout clipped trough the tree bark) we had to face the harsh reality: Radiation Island is simply not a finished product.
A real shame that because the premise is rather interesting, the survival game mechanics are all implemented and working properly yet everything else sadly isn’t. So as much as we would love to explore the entire world, the whole place sadly keeps reminding us every step along the way that this would benefit from a complete makeover and several more months in development. Oh, did we forgot to mention the entire human population of the island has been turned into veracious zombies?
We probably are still trying to forget our first time encountering one such local denizen, a moment that should have been filled with surprise and horror, but the model was so poorly made and shoddy animated we could not believe this was being sold as a retail product. This might be an acceptable level of quality on the mobile market or as an Early Access title on Steam, but we expect more from a game that's appearing on Nintendo Switch and the Switch eShop.
Radiation Island is a good survival horror premise that sadly never delivers. We are unsure if the game will continue to see future support and updates to better streamline the entire experience, possibly leaving it in this limbo state on Switch forever and as such our final score reflects the game’s current state. It's a shame Atypical Games decided to bring this game to Switch before other games in its catalogue as it sets a dangerous precedent on the eShop. Buyer’s beware: the titular radiation is the least of your worries on this island... but that hole it will leave on your wallet most certainly is.