Radio Viscera seems like a run of the mill twin-stick arcade shooter at first. After picking up your first weapon you're sent barrelling headfirst into groups of little men in green hazmat suits. You point, you shoot, you run, you jump. Landing shots sends enemies flying, transforming them into bloody pinballs that ricochet off of anything and everything in sight. It soon becomes clear that what you're holding isn't really a gun at all, and as enemies get back onto their feet one after another you realise that it's air that you're firing from your weapon, not bullets. This is where things get interesting, introducing a game-changing mechanic that's easily the star of the show.
You see, in Radio Viscera you let the environment do your killing for you. It's handy then, that devious traps, saw blades and acid pits litter every room you blast your way into. Instead of being a mere shooter, you're forced to think like a kind of murderous snooker player, lining up shots and running quickly into new positions to get the right angle on your enemies. It's a deeply satisfying and particularly bloody take on virtual murder, tinged with slapstick humour and ragdoll physics.
Your Computer is Watching You
While most of the design of the game is focused on the air gun mechanic, there's a neat Y2K paranoia aesthetic peppered throughout. The intro is particularly stylish, warning of the dangers of a world built on interconnected computers. I only wish the visual flair exhibited in cutscenes and menus was better translated to the levels themselves. They mostly consist of industrial offices and factory spaces that tend to get repetitive after the first couple of levels. Outdoor spaces really help break up the monotony, but because of Radio Viscera's dependence on environmental traps for its combat, there isn't a whole lot of room for variety.
Playing Radio Viscera is as much about staying in motion than it is shooting enemies. Often, you'll be careening through levels, using the air gun to keep enemies out of shooting range. This fast pace is completely counterintuitive given the way the camera behaves. It's a forced perspective, sometimes almost top-down, other times swinging wildly to a new perspective. Beyond minor camera panning options, you're mostly locked into the will of the game, which can be extremely frustrating as you move from open spaces to tight corridors and hallways.
There's even the odd bit of platforming which, depending on what the camera is doing, can be fast and precise or utterly haphazard. Despite wanting you to move from room to room as fast as possible, Radio Viscera blurs new areas before you enter them. This lead to many annoying deaths, as I was sniped by an enemy that simply hadn't been revealed yet. This is a common occurrence, as is being killed by enemies that are obscured by the camera, particularly ones you've fired into a corner out of sight somewhere.
When the camera allows it, and once you've gotten to grips with the air gun, there's a lot of fun to be had as you blow holes in walls, hurl enemies into bounce pads, and trigger explosives and traps. Staying in motion and lining up shots feels great, and the rare moments where jump pads, explosives and saw blades coalesce into bloody murder highlight just how much fun Radio Viscera's take on shooting is. It can definitely feel like the game is fighting you at times, and there's little to keep you coming back to the small selection of levels available currently. It's definitely worth checking out if rag dolling enemies and cartoon violence are your bag.
Review copy provided by the publisher
Reviewed on PC