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Heads-up: Radical Heights is very, very early access

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At least it’s free?

Boss Key Productions

Radical Heights, Boss Key’s follow-up to LawBreakers, is now available as a free-to-play early access game on Steam. We’ve jumped into a few rounds of the Smash TV meets battle royale game set in a retro-futuristic game show, and the most apparent issue is that this is a game in the earliest stages of production.

Its performance is shaky, and the waiting area is a mostly empty room with some bikes, halfpipes and a few other items to experiment with. You’re not dropped from a vehicle when a round begins; you just begin falling from the sky to the ground. There’s no parachute — you just hit the ground and roll. You can only play as a male character; there’s a big “coming soon” sign over the symbol for female characters. The water doesn’t work at the moment, so you just walk over it. The structures are mostly gray boxes. Animations feel jerky and unfinished.

The game’s dudebro ’80s aesthetic also seems to be struggling to inspire an audience, as the trailer currently has about 3,400 thumbs-down votes and fewer than 1,000 thumbs-up votes. Reviews on Steam are mixed.

None of this is very surprising, as the game has only been in development for five months.

“This is a five month passion project for the studio as we’re creating and publishing the game entirely by ourselves,” said Zach Lowery, Radical Heights’ creative director, in a statement. “We’re huge fans of Battle Royale games along with the bright, inviting irreverence of the 80’s aesthetic. Because of that, we want to put our own spin on the genre and create a futuristic 80’s world that takes place in 2023 during an over-the-top game show where contestants battle it out for fame and prizes.”

The question is, why would you release a game after only five months?

Radical Heights does try some interesting things to separate itself from its inspirations in PUBG and Fortnite, but launching this early is a risky play. Trying to entice a large enough audience to not only try the game but to also stick around while it’s optimized and polished is a big ask — especially when its competitors in the battle royale genre have such a tight hold on their respective players.