Tired of the mundane life in which he finds himself, Daniel dreams of a world of possibilities but risks losing what’s really important in this narrative-driven, point-and-click adventure.
As a point-and-click experience, the gameplay of Radiant One is rather simple. Clicking on a position in the environment will maneuver the character to that location while clicking on the point of interest will yield a contextual piece of dialogue or something to advance the story. Some dexterity is required with the addition of context-specific quick time events, which include rhythm-based clicking and constant mashing of the mouse button; however, they’re used sparingly, and never offer any real challenge. Despite the variety they add, they lack the depth to elevate the gameplay from much more than an obstacle to continuing the story.
Radiant One is a narrative-driven game, meaning a lot hangs on the story it’s telling, and how it’s telling it. The story is told almost entirely through expositional text or dialogue, which would not be a problem were it done with any subtlety or nuance. However, this is completely lacking. The swathes of text spell out every story beat for the player, as conclusions are leaped to, to advance the already quick plot, and morals taught explicitly, without any thought required from the player. It forgoes almost any attempt of the adage, ‘show, not tell,’ and, instead, screams its message at the player. The story feels out of breath, quickly becoming a race to the finish, as it tries to wrap itself up in record time, with moments not given the appropriate time to sink in. It’s a shame, too, as you can tell it’s a story written from the heart, with real meaning behind it, however, the way in which it’s told leaves much to be desired and reduces almost any impact it could have had. Despite having a potentially meaningful message to tell, it does so without involving the player in any significant way. This leaves the gameplay interactions feeling rather superficial and insignificant and, as a player, wondering if you were required at all.
What drew me to Radiant One initially was its visuals. With an isometric perspective, it does an excellent job of framing each scene and showcasing an art style that is easy on the eyes and full of detail. The stylistic environments are distinct from one another and help differentiate each area, leading to a greater sense of immersion. The only critique of the visuals is that the characters sometimes feel at odds with the environment, with a slightly clashing aesthetic, but it’s never jarring enough to take you out of the game.
Punching up the visuals is an excellent soundtrack which, I’d contend, is the best part of the game. The visuals put you in a scene, while the soundtrack makes you feel like you’re there. Although it only has a few tracks, given the game’s short nature, each one is used to wonderful effect. Moments of tension are punctuated by an ominous track, while moments of calm are accompanied by appropriately relaxing music. The soundtrack works excellently to reinforce the tone suggested by each scene. Similarly, the sound effects have great direction, such as well-timed piano keys, and effective rain and thunder effects, to give the story an emphasis it otherwise lacked.
Despite the appealing aesthetic and fantastic soundtrack, the game leaves little in the way of replayability. Collecting the achievements or “additional dialogues” may prompt some to re-experience it; however, the rushed, poorly told, narrative and straightforward gameplay will likely inspire few to do so.
Radiant One is a game with a heart-warming story that can’t escape its flawed execution and surface-level gameplay that clashes with an overt storytelling method. The visuals and soundtrack, especially the latter, do their best to prop up the experience, with some success, delivering immersion and emotion, however, aren’t enough to make this a game worth revisiting.
Radiant One is available on Steam for $4.99.