Rising Thunder is the hardcore fighting game that you don’t have to be hardcore to master.
As part of my PAX Prime rounds I was smart enough to accept an interview with Seth Killian, who worked at Capcom during Street Fighter 4‘s development and later joined Radiant in order to head Rising Thunder. Rising Thunder is a fighting game that was developed with the mindset that fighting games should be less complicated, taking only several hours to learn well instead of several weeks, or even several months.
“It’s nothing flashy,” Killian told me, and he was correct. Rising Thunder is not a flashy fighting game, and that very fact makes it quite flashy. It is functionally simple, requiring only modest understanding of controls in order to be able to participate meaningfully in the game. There is no need for elaborate combos, rather a player relies more on their ability to predict their rival’s moves than memorizing an elaborate string of commands that must be executed with perfect timing. It also stars robots, and that gives it at least a few extra points in my book.
Killian views fighting games as equal parts fighting and puzzle. Learning your opponent’s fight style, and adjusting in response to that fight style, is a major factor in Rising Thunder, with its simplicity being the very thing that makes it exceptional. Killian described fighting games as multi-layer, and Rising Thunder simply has one layer peeled away in order to allow for multiple play styles for experts and novices alike. He also points out that it is the first fighting game he feels comfortable playing with a keyboard.
There is also a very cool mechanic that Killian highlighted during the demonstration. There are several different moves that, when initiated, you can see what is happening but your opponent cannot. One character is able to turn invisible, for example. And while you can see an outline of your character on your screen (think Reptile or Predator in Mortal Kombat X), your opponent cannot see that outline, giving a stealthy move the ability to actually be stealthy.
The game handles extremely well, although I did have to unlearn a bit of what I’ve come to be used to from fighting games in order to make meaningful moves. Several times I found myself attempting common combo sequences, only to realize they were doing absolutely nothing. There is room for more elaborate gameplay, but it isn’t required in order to make the game playable and enjoyable.
Throughout the course of our discussion Killian was playing the game, getting so lost in it that he seemingly forgot I was even in the room. It’s refreshing, seeing a creator so in love with their own game that they continue to enjoy it no matter the setting. His excitement over the title cannot be overstated, and I would be lying if I said that excitement didn’t rub off on me.
Rising Thunder is a hardcore fighting game that you don’t need to be a hardcore gamer in order to enjoy, and that makes it shine.
Oh yea, and it’s free.