Into The Radius' unnerving world and exacting gameplay reward meticulous scouts prepared to brave grim unknowns. This is survival redefined for a new medium at its most immersive yet accessible
Into the Radius is the most engrossing and immersive game I've ever played and I absolutely love it. You assume the role of a nameless scout venturing into the bizarre "Exclusion Zone" that has swallowed the ruins of rural Russia. Strange anomalies distort reality within the Radius, leaving a haunting yet compelling landscape to unravel. The journey is a solitary one - you must rely solely on your own skills and scavenged supplies to brave countless dangers.
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From the start, Into the Radius immerses through exceptional attention to mechanics. Manual reloading, weapon maintenance, and inventory management turn survival into a tense minigame of preparation. Scavenging becomes an art, with items arranged deliberately like in one's real backpack. This realistic approach brings thrills as supplies grow scarce, enhancing tension on each expedition.
Before venturing out to complete missions, you must prepare and gear yourself up if you want a chance of surviving. This is where this game absolutely shines. Guns and gear slowly decay, they rust and if you don't clean them via a manual process involving spraying oil, brushing them and using a rod with a piece of paper to clean the barrels, they will jam mid-combat and that might be it. The same can be said about the clips or magazines. Each gun has its own clip and the clips here are physical objects meaning that if you reload your gun and don't pick up the clip from the ground, you will lose that clip and then you will have to either scavenge another one while on the Radius or buy it from the store.
You need to manually reload each clip, one bullet at a time. Then you have to insert that clip into the gun and then cock the gun to load it. Oh, you also must not forget to take of the safety off otherwise the gun will not shoot. These are all manual processes that you have to do and oh man, reloading shells one by one into a shotgun, pumping it and then firing it, to me, felt like doing the real thing.
Yes, yes, Stalker exists and Escape from Tarkov does too, but in Into The Radius, it is you yourself who has to do all of the things that happen with a button press or a mouse drag n'drop in those two other games. It feels like you are truly there, in the Radius, fighting tooth and nail, just to survive, complete the mission and head back to home base to drop all the loot resupply and head back out again... and I have never experienced anything like that in a game before.
There are a lot of weapons in the game, each with its own strength and weaknesses. After trying out a lot of combinations, I ended up with a loadout that felt perfect for me. A Glock 17 with an red-dot and laserpointer and a Groza decked wth a silencer, ACOG scope and a laser pointer. I also had like 4 or 5 clips fully loaded with FMJs and AP rounds for each gun placed in the pouches around my waist for quick tactical reloading. I also took 2 or 3 grenades with me each run cause you never know what you might encounter while exploring.
Shooting feels amazing. Taking aim and firing at an enemy is gratifying, again, unlike anything I've ever experienced before cause it was me doing all the work. Crouching behind cover, carefully aiming at an enemy at long distance, adjusting for the bullet drop, taking the shot and then hearing the sound cue that the enemy was down is absolutely satisfying. At the same time, fumbling a reload by dropping the clip on the ground or engaging the gun safety while two of the creppy teleporting motherf*ckers appear right in front of my eyes and a creepy crawly mimic jumps behind my back in the middle of the night, was absolutely terrifying in the best way possible. God, I love this game so so much.
While exploring the Radius, you also find handwritten notes by previous scouts, cassetes you can play back at your base and interact with crystallized shadows of people who lived before this cataclysm that build up the story and the world of Into The Radius. Nothing too crazy, but still you start to understand what happened to this part of the world, what might have caused this calamity and what are these anomalies that can be found throughout the world. And it all culminates with a choice you have to make which I will not spoil.
In terms of presentation, the environments include unearthly sights contrasting crumbling industrial ruins. Eerie fog and foreboding flora shroud mysteries while accentuating the isolation. Distorted architecture provokes curiosity to discover each new area. The soundscape is also perfect as you hear echoes of the past, creepy and nursery rhymes sang by little girls or distorted voices of the enemies calling out for you. Now, if we talk about the game graphically, it lack polish and frankly it looks like sh*t most of the time if you stop, look around and think about it, even on the new Quest 3 with low textures, simple geometry etc. However, I did not care at all about any of that cause the creepy, isolating and dreary atmosphere more than compensates.
I can talk for hours about the game and explain in detail every single mechanic that it has and even point out how this or that mechanic could have been a little bit better, but I am not going to do any that. This game, when you embrace it and immerse yourself fully into it, is probably one of the best thing you have ever played. Into the Radius creates VR's most faithful emulation of survival classics to date. Its unnerving world and exacting gameplay reward meticulous scouts prepared to brave grim unknowns. This is survival redefined for a new medium at its most immersive yet accessible. This is a f*cking masterpiece and I whole-heartedly recommend it. Thanks for reading!
The game was reviewed on a Quest 3 using a review copy provided by the PR. Into The Radius is available now on Meta Quest, PCVR, Pico and VivePort.