Take the most irrational and demanding mobile gaming fan – you know the kind, the person that only wants paid games and hates in-app purchases and ads in any form – and ask them for a dream wishlist of everything they'd want from a mobile game. What they will describe to you is basically what Radiation Island [$2.99] from Atypical Games delivers on. It's a game that pushes iOS devices to their absolute limits, provides PC-style gameplay on the go with gamepad support, doesn't do much hand-holding, delivers dozens of hours of gameplay, offers online multiplayer, and oh yeah, it's only $2.99 for the entire package. And there's not in-app purchases to be found anywhere in the vicinity of the game, because those are for suckers, right?. Atypical Games decided to make a game for this most vocal and demanding of irrational consumer.

Radiation Island 8

I don't think many other developers could make this kind of package and hope to live off of it – Atypical Games has a track record and possibly even the financial ability to take risks thanks to the long-running Sky Gamblers franchise. If I see a developer make a game like this, I have to say "why are you disrespecting yourself, try to actually make some money off of this!" This game should at least be $6.99 if not more. $9.99 would totally be a fair price given the quality and value, at mobile scales. But hey, for $2.99, maybe the irrational people who don't want developers to actually make any money have won here. But I'm glad they did because Radiation Island is fantastic. And if what I described sounds like the ideal game, you need to go buy this even if you aren't a fan of survival crafting games, because you need to buy this for philosophical reasons alone, to justify other developers making something like this.

What is Radiation Island? Well, it's an entry in a genre we really need to lock down a good name for, as while I call it a survival crafting game, not unlike Minecraft [$6.99], elongated, it's a first-person open-world wilderness and zombie survival simulation. The story is that you wake up on a mysterious island that was occupied by Japanese forces in the 1940's, and find that you're surrounded by wildlife, need to find some food as you're quite hungry, and oh yeah, there's that zombie with a sword that's chasing after you, that's a real problem too.

Radiation Island 6

There are two key objectives in Radiation Island and they also kind of form the sequential progression of the game. Your first objective is just plain surviving. You have not only your health bar to keep an eye on, but also your hunger, and have to deal with other ailments that may befall you in your time here. This means that you have to find sources of food, whether it be hunting rabbits or catching fish in order to get meat from them. But how do you do so? Rabbits are fast and run away from your puny fists. Well, the game is about crafting tools and equipment in order to help you along and to take out the more dangerous wildlife, like slingshots and bow & arrows. Additionally, you can craft equipment that provides protection from damage and the night's cold. Yes, there are day and night cycles to deal with. Hope you have some torches!

This is far from the most hardcore crafting sim, admittedly. All the crafting recipes are given to you, it just becomes a matter of figuring out how to get the materials. Thankfully, flint and twigs are readily available on the ground, and these are the basic building blocks of the first tools you need to survive. So you can pick those up and make crude tools to chop down trees and mine rocks, which will let you make better tools and start to hunt wolves and sheep for clothing materials. You have to find and create medicine and splints for when you get poisoned or break your limbs from a high fall. The game steadily stacks all the crafting on top of each other for you to learn.

It can be slow and daunting to figure this out, especially if you're not that familiar with the genre, but Radiation Island is actually a fantastic jumping-in point for survival crafting games thanks to the fact that those basic materials are always literally everywhere, and there's documentation for everything readily available. Tips on how to operate many of the game's elements are available in the journal, and each item has descriptive info in order to tell you how to find them, which is a major help when starting out.

Figuring out all this is key to the beginning of the game, as you need to be able to make weapons and tools of reasonable quality. Ideally, when a zombie starts running after you, you'll be prepared to kill them instead of just getting marauded. Respawning is actually part of the game's narrative, inventively enough, though not to the degree of Infinity Blade [$5.99].

Radiation Island 5

Thankfully, everything with the crafting system becomes second nature after a while – if you're familiar with the mechanics of survival crafting games, you'll probably pick up on it pretty quickly. Still, it is accessible once you put your nose to the grindstone. It may be tempting to go investigate the weird things going on, but hanging out near the first respawn point (with other houses that can be accessed as quick travel spots), getting your bearings and learning how to survive, collect materials, craft items, and then thrive in this world, will go a long way in this game.

So, once you have the 'staying alive' part of the equation down, what comes next is the key goal to actually making material progress in the game. There's a number of electric Tesla towers that have to be disabled. Just what they are and what they do is steadily revealed through the journal pages you find, and you eventually find the six-digit codes for each station in order to shut them down. The codes for each tower are usually found at the start of each island and at each base, and so the game does kind of take on a linear progression, in that there's generally one place that you can go to. You could go to the other towers and get the other codes early on, but that's kind of a waste of time unless you have respawn points nearby. Each island essentially has a sequence to deactivate each tower, and there's not really anything I found that's stopping you from visiting the other islands whenever you make it there.

Radiation Island 7

Now, the problem with shutting down the towers isn't just with the codes to shut each one down, but with the crazed undead haunting each one. And they're out for your blood. As such, you need to manage fighting them off. You can't craft guns, but you can find them in chests and on the zombies. They actually become enemies that you want to find at times, because they offer some of the best rewards and often give you items that you can't craft. They're just deadly and relentless in their pursuit. I once was running around at night with a torch in hand and the indicator that enemies were behind me, but I needed to know where the gate to this one Tesla tower was. I found it, and turned around to deal with the enemies behind me, realizing that at least a couple dozen katana-wielding undead had been chasing after me, their group growing in size from the quartet I originally discovered at sundown. It was quite the surprise. Fortunately, I had a nearby river I could dive into and swam to safety.

There are a couple of vehicles you can craft, including a canoe and a glider, the latter being a way to fly from great heights, but problematic due to the fact that it requires a decent amount of leather to craft, it breaks if you fall, and it can break your legs as well. The boat at least has lesser material needs and won't break so easily, though it's not as much fun as the glider because you're not flying through the skies. Still, there's more to do than just walking everywhere.

Radiation Island 3

The game does unfortunately get a bit repetitive once the tower-disabling portion of the game picks up, because the fun of the game is really in the discovery of how the crafting works, and getting to the realization that you can make bullets and titanium items with no real trouble. Then you become armed well enough to take on the enemy hordes, and the game becomes about getting from tower to tower. Granted, the game manages to get more difficult to the point where there's more zombies, and tougher entry points into the towers, but the game's goals do stagnate somewhat in that phase, which is unfortunate because the game is so creative up until that point. The game becomes far more like an FPS, but I mean, it is possible to perhaps dodge the enemies and not just fight everyone, if you're smart about it and move like the wind. And it's going to take long enough to get to that point that you really can't complain if it starts to feel sluggish, you had so many hours already put in!

Radiation Island does use your standard dual-stick moving and aiming controls, but there's loads of handy auto-aiming to make hitting targets quite simple. There's even a sort of auto-sensing of creatures to make hunting animals even easier. The game does support MFi controls, but it's not perhaps the ideal way to play the game, as inventory management is infinitely simpler with the touchscreen. It's just a testament to how well the touchscreen controls work so that I'd rather play this game with a touchscreen than a controller. I'm not going to hate on the gamepad support, but this is the sort of game that works better with your fingers. Also, setting map waypoints and fast travel requires the touchscreen. If you're playing this on TV, I'd probably recommend playing this on a controller with the device clipped to it, like an iPhone to the MOGA Rebel, or the MadCatz CTRLi gamepad, or perhaps that Gamevice controller for iPad when it's available for purchase, so that you have the touchscreen options along with the advantages of gamepad control.

Radiation Island 2

Visually, this game is an absolute stunner. Atypical pushed the pedal to the Metal and made a game that pushes iOS devices to the limits. This game will kill your battery. I drained my iPad Mini 2's battery twice in one day playing this game, which is a testament to just how hard this game is pushing iOS devices (and how much time you can spend playing this game), and while the framerate could be better on the Mini 2, the game runs smoothly on the iPhone 6 Plus. As well, this game serves as a convenient hand-warmer for winter months, just load the game up and feel the blazing inferno in your hands! The game has to render a huge world to explore here with impressive draw distance to see things ahead in the world, lighting effects, a rudimentary weather system as the world gets cloudy, and impressive radiation-influenced sunsets that are as gorgeous as they are forbidding for the dark and cold night that is happening. That this game even runs on these devices is a sign on how far iOS gaming has come.

Radiation Island is a stupid value, and I mean that in two ways: one, for $2.99 without in-app purchases, there's a absurd "hours played per dollar spent" value to be had here, and that's without touching the multiplayer options, which are only available after you beat the whole game.

Radiation Island 1

Two, I think Atypical Games are fools for charging only $2.99 for this game, considering how much work clearly went into designing a game with such a large world to explore, and making the game be an absolute battery-killing stunner. There's so much game here that the price is absolutely criminal – and there's replay value to be had in not just the multiplayer, but with a hardcore survival mode where one death means game over. I appreciate the exploration mode as well – there's such great sights to see here, that people who don't want to worry about surviving and just want to check everything out deserve to have an avenue to do so.

If you're the kind of person who complains about any kind of IAP, and was mad about paying for Monument Valley's [$3.99] "Forgotten Shores" expansion, buy this game. Radiation Island is a measly $2.99, and you're making enough of a statement with your wallet by buying this game. I understand why some of y'all are hesitant to pay for games, I was once a kid myself who didn't have a lot of disposable income, but scrounge together the cash for this, you'll get so much out of it, and you can help encourage other developers to give you what you want.

But no matter who you are, if you want a big PC-style survival crafting game that is as good a fit for mobile as this sort of game can possibly be, or want way too much value for a $2.99 purchase, you need to pick up Radiation Island. It's a massive, and immensely enjoyable experience.

TouchArcade Rating

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  • Amenbrother

    Agreed but I did lose interest after a few days of playing it a lot.

    • Badaudio

      They need to implement more crafting options. Blueprints and whatnot that can be found, not readily available from the beginning.

  • sivad

    100% agree with all things stated here, 2.99 for this game is highway robbery for atypical games, and I hope they continue to add and support this. The dev team is active in forums and already a update fix has been issued. I'm a fan of Rust and Day z on PC, and this really satisfied my need for a mobile fix

    • FootSoldier

      Yeah, they should do Episodes, and charge for them. This game is Amazing. Hope they make more games.

  • Skyfluks

    Amazing game! I really hope the developers get everything they deserve from this!

  • grammatonfeather

    Calm down about saying the game should be more expensive. Haven't you heard of the concept of selling more at lower cost instead of selling fewer at higher price? I don't mind paying the current price for a game like this, I'd be much less likely to pay more. No IAP, a big game with great graphics and affordable means it should sell in far greater quantities. It's a shame Microsoft never caught on to this with windows. I purchased windows 8 when MS dropped the price to 25 for a few months due to poor sales. I don't wanna spend 10 pounds on an iPad game. Radiation island is perfectly priced to sell in far greater quantity which ultimately makes the developer wealthier than selling less at higher price.

    • scottsoapbox

      Yeah as long as they are getting more than twice the sales at $2.99 instead of $5.99 everyone wins. 🙂

    • Lickzy

      You also forgot to mention you're cheap.

      • FootSoldier

        Exactly. No matter what, $2.99 is highway robbery. Period!

  • IAP-king

    Awesome, I brought it for my flight to Florida, even though I didn't play it much during the flight. I think I'll play it now, who needs Disney world?

  • djstout

    This is the best game of the year with Active Soccer2 so far!

  • Tim Cant

    Best iOS games for ages, top darts!!

  • Jim Shorts

    Bought! Agreed, it's worth more than the asking price.

  • Draven2222

    Top Review, Crafting with an MFi Controller takes a bit of getting used to.
    Actually plays ace with a MOGA Ace! Like it is was designed for it.

  • MaverickX12

    It's good but it's familiar ground. And with the way it kills my battery, I've already deleted it.

    • cofunguy

      And sadly this is a common item that happens with this app. Surprised it wasn't mentioned in the review.

      • bluechipps

        It was.

      • bilboad

        Multiple times.

      • MaverickX12

        Yeah I took the plunge even knowing it would drain the battery and make the phone hot. It's still a good game, but I just deleted it because I couldn't see myself playing it that often with those issues. My phone is only 16gb so I need all the space I can get.

  • John Dickerson

    This is the best game I have played in awhile. Lots of fun.

  • sinagog

    I love this game. I've played it so much I keep on looking at my friends and family cock-eyed wondering what useful tool I could make if I combined their body parts together.

  • hellscaretaker

    I wait for it to go free ;())

    • Karim Maksoud ن

      Hopefully you will be waiting a very, very long time.

      • sakara214ever

        Agree to that!!! People should really understand that some games should never ever be free.

      • hellscaretaker

        and i like how you fell for my little in joke 😉

      • C. Stubb

        I, for one, applaud your humor. You have proven again that there one can be as blatantly ignorant as he pleases on the Internet message boards without anyone realizing he's simply trolling.

      • Zach

        Ok, your "joke".

      • Montanx HS

        Not every game is an mmo. Regular games dont "Go free after awhile."

    • Stormourner

      I will wait for the game's price to go much higher

      • ex2bot

        Damn your chheep! Wait, uh, that's not right.

      • Stormourner

        hehe I ain't no cheap

      • ex2bot

        🙂

    • Guest

      I wait for you to get the hell out of this market ;-(():)(-()

    • brantov

      and die soon.

  • yoshthug

    Great review. Great game.

  • Ubisububi

    I resent being called "irrational."

  • TheGrimCreeper

    Beat the game already. Multiplayer was far from what I expected, though. Hopefully Atypical makes more titles like this.

    • Dude.. Welcome..

      Far from what you expected in a good way or a bad way? I'm pretty curious to get to it, having a blast with the game but just don't have as much time as I'd like to to play it

      • Grummie

        Go the the toilet more

      • Dude.. Welcome..

        They started to suspect something at work when every bathroom break lasted two and a half hours

  • Dailon Huskey

    For only $3 this game was best value of any I bought in a while.

  • worldcitizen1919

    Great review. Bought!

  • Alexythimia23

    Great review by carter, this is how i would love to see games developed by devs, with passion and huge content, and im betting some great updates are going to come along. They deserve more praise for this game, so many peeps bitch n moan about wanting these "premium" games yet not everybody support them which is a shame, a guy at work thought it was too much for this game??! What a 24 carat dick... And he is the type who wont put his money where his mouth is, since he always moans about freemium... Man, the amount of whiny ass hypocrites out there is scary lol

  • Free2Pay

    Absolute Great review. Little late, but great anyway. Thumbs up!

  • Big Papa

    I've already beaten this game twice, and I'm starting a third run through... it's just THAT good. Holy cow, Atypical hasn't just made a great game, Radiation Island is a total love letter to us anti-free-to-play folks. I'm positively stunned that there's so much game here for the price.

    People, BUY THIS GAME! Heck, even if you're not into survival/FPS games, buy it just to support Atypical Games, this crew makes some of the best mobile games that can be had.

    • InTheAir

      So, how are you doing now?

  • thestapler

    I do love this game. Feels like the kind of thing that will have a lot more content, islands, and... creatures down the road.

    ahem... DINOSAUR ISLAND?? GIVE THE PEOPLE WHAT THEY WANT!! You can tie that into radiation somehow.

    • Big Papa

      Dinosaur Island... I second this, for obvious reasons.

  • Death Lord777

    Looking forward to what Atypical Games does for this game. Unbeatable price. Wish that their where more games like this. I give it 10 ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️.

  • Edwin Ramirez

    Seems like a great game, heres hoping it comes out for Android some day.

    But I honestly ask what is so "irrational" of not liking F2P and ads?

    Really. A couple of years ago, games full of ads were frown upon on. I remember how people made fun of Android for having most $1 games for free but full of ads.

    Now the it seems that we have to be ok and totally onboard. Thinking otherwise earns us the names of trolls and "irrational gaming fans". This is exactly how the industry molds us into what they want. They push until we show resistance, then they just keep pushing until we give up. Thats why Capcom charges like $5 for color packs for their Street Fighter games which actually just changes the color of one pixel for another in a character's costume. Thats why triple A console and PC games come out with day one DLC and 3GB of patches. And thats why mobile games comprimise their gameplay elements for the sake of placing pay walls.

    • ex2bot

      It's okay as long as the game is well made and you don't have to keep IAPing (not what you think you read) to be able to play. I don't mind paying $10 or so in IAP (or more if the game is really special), but I don't want to buy GEMS that get used up faster than you can say 'pickpocket.'

      I would use Plants V Zombies 2 as an example of free-to-IAP done right, but I think they ruined it by making it much harder. I went back to try it after a big update and I think the IAP Zombie GEMS guys got their claws into it.

      So, there you go. An example of free-to-play done right . . . and then later done oh, so wrong. 🙁 Too bad, cause it was a great game.

      (Disclaimer: I haven't played it lately. Don't know what it's like now.)

      • Edwin Ramirez

        I agree with you. I like giving Skyforce as an example of F2P done right. Although the amount of grinding, even after buying the "star" doubler, is high quite often.

        But I find it ridiculous that TA comes up with an article stating that people that don't like IAP or F2P are irrational people and then publish articles about how its our fault that premium games fail and that F2P is on the rise.

      • ex2bot

        You're right. There are some great f2p games out there. Like anything else in life, you have to sort through to find the good ones.

  • Irvin

    Any games without dlc or iap automatically gets an extra star in my eyes.

  • Jake7905

    Premium is dead, long live premium!!

  • Devok

    Pretty average game, the controls don't work very well when moving backwards. Also the map is quit small compared to wow. Also it lack weapons and enemy's, due much of a variety, always the same the same thing over and over again, they should have done this in a city, like GTA, even GTA maps are a lot bigger and you can interact unlike this.

    • NFCT

      Did you just compare the size of this game to a mmo that has been out for 10 years+? Just silly.

      • MrAlbum

        Why not? Core game design principles can be applied regardless of the age difference of the games being compared. While the person whom you replied to is being nitpicky, if one pulls back to a general perspective one can find some key design elements that are relevant to the discussion. For example, having a mini map that one can read without squinting or straining your eyes allows players to play the game with a minimum of physical discomfort, which means they enjoy it more and will want to play for longer periods of time, which designers want. Also, on PC or console, a character on average can move in all directions (including backpedaling) in this genre of games with equal speed in those directions. The fact that this game is different is confusing to a player who comes to the game from that background. Also, enough variety in a game helps players become more engaged with the core gameplay loops that drive said game, because there is more to interact with. Some games put that variety in the environment and level design, some put it in the gameplay mechanics, and some others put it in the game's narrative structure, and some do all of these and even more. If variety is lacking in one area, then variety in another area needs to pick up the slack. Plus, being able to interact with one's environment in a variety of ways helps players immerse themselves in a game's world. If that interactivity is lessened, then the game will feel lifeless to a certain extent. Again, I'm guessing that the original poster did not intend to bring these ideas up, and was just nitpicking, but these are good discussion points nonetheless that you would have casually dismissed because you did not think there was any value to his comment because of your personal belief that the comparisons he made are not "legitimate" comparisons. At the extreme least, we can set aside the comparisons and focus on his criticisms divorced from those comparisons, in order to move the overall discussion forward.

      • iPhallex

        That's a lot to ask for a $3 game. They've tried to minimize the bitching, yet here we are...

      • NFCT

        Not sure why you have -1 likes for this post, as you do bring up some very valid points.
        - I completely agree about the map view. It could be enlarged or have a better zoom option.
        - I think there are tweaks to be made in initial difficulty and progress more as you get further.
        -this is not more difficult than wow or any mmo for that matter, so not sure where you were going with that.
        - the game out the box is more well rounded than DayZ in its current state, and even most of the dead island series " and those are pc and console games, let's put things into some perspective" , updates will be made this is a reputable company.

        -With that said comparing its map size of a tablet/phone game to one of the biggest pc mmos is about as silly as, comparing the speed of light to the max speed of a Vespa.

  • Press2Play

    Ok next console version.

  • NFCT

    Great game, great review!

  • SergeSuper

    Bullshit! They afraid to do it for PC. It's not a mobile game.

  • John

    "Take the most irrational and demanding mobile gaming fan – you know the kind, the person that only wants paid games and hates in-app purchases and ads in any form"

    Subtext, large IAP h8r readership find some other site to comment on. Expect more of this in-house trolling until you shut up or go away.

  • best_death_ever

    Dumb question. I beat the game but I can't for the world find how to start multi player. I'm i just a moron?

  • Ultima12

    I'm buying this just to support what these guys have done!! I'm sure I'll love the game but even if I didn't I want to show love for devs who really try to make gamers games on ios!

  • Doc Robby

    I'm such a wuss! I've gotten addicted to playing games with MFi controller support, and although this game has this, I can't play it so well due to the inability to invert the Y axis. Feels like I'm writing with my left hand. Wuss I tell ya! Wuss!

  • ibebyi

    If you have a jail broken iphone 5 and you want to squeeze a bit more performance out of the game you can disable the swaying grass by going into the application folder (island.app) and renaming the grass_tex.pvr to grass_tex.pvr.bak in the following folder path Data->terrain->island.

    • ibebyi

      The game feels much smoother for me now. There are probably other textures/particle effects you can get rid of but from my experience with PC gaming grass textures are always a good start. I'm looking for the falling leaf textures/animations so I can rename that too

  • Death Lord777

    ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ this is a great game have enjoyed playing it looking forward to more updates.

  • Benjamin Rodriguez

    Beat the game not too long ago. As a person who's not a fan of minecraftish games, this one had me addicted till I beat it. Sure the crafting system needed to be way more complex. In the end I over farmed a lot of the final materials basically ending with an unlimited supply of machine gun ammo, and because of that end, I went from casually enjoying the game to rushing to finish it. Crafting system was too easy to cap before you get to all three islands. Monsters were fun, aiming could've been done better, hated the auto moving thing that would move you while shooting sometimes. AI is really dumb. Ending kinda sucked, multiplayer kept me interested for...two mins. Great start though, even with all those cons I loved the game. You can easily build on what you have and polish this super crazy good. Without some sort of leveling system, or anything that made me want to continue, I basically just tried to beat the game as fast as I could at the end point. Ideas are all jumbled up, gotta go back out. Just sayin! Try it. Good game.

  • Nick TMB

    Soooo, I'm nearly done with the game, so far I'm left with the central tower and 1 of the towers in the left island, the code is 534211, but for some reason it won't let me unlock that tower... The sides of my screen will turn a little red every time I type that code. Is that a glitch in the game or is it just my iPad?

  • BOWB4ZOD

    I have a Horipad Mfi controller and the right analog stick doesn't turn the view. Is there away to look around?

  • primalxconvoy

    Solid hardware controller support and competent presentation, marred by complicated GUI/menus (where's the exit/save?), poor player home/settlement building (inconsistent snapping of walls/furniture to existing buildings and it rains INSIDE buildings), strange difficulty settings (too easy and too hard). The result is an unfinished, poor man's Fallout 4. Not reccomended.

    (Played on Nvidia Shield TV)

Radiation Island Reviewed by Carter Dotson on . Rating: 5