Into the Radius was first released for PC VR in 2020 and is now available for Quest 2. But will this survival horror release from CM Games hold up on standalone VR hardware? Read on for our full In the Radius Quest 2 review.
Into the Radius, when it’s in full swing, is an incredibly addicting survival/horror game with some of the scariest sequences in the genre today. It forces you to keep tabs on many small details that most other games would gloss over or ignore, but that only helps propel you further into a world’s bizarre, slow-burning apocalypse. Unfortunately, it also feels like a game that current-gen standalone VR hardware isn’t quite ready for. The new Quest 2 port only exacerbates many of the problems we’ve had with the release of PC VR in 2020.
You play Into the Radius as Explorer #61, an amnesiac who may be the last living human in the Perchorsk Radius Zone. An anomalous event in 1987 turned the area into a surreal nightmare patrolled by monsters and haunted by ghosts.
You’re one of the few people who can survive indefinitely in Radius, but that also means you can’t leave it. If you work alone, you’ll get odd computer jobs from the United Nations Task Force, who are investigating the radius to trade in Zone artifacts and objects for the money you need to survive.
Always be prepared
In 2020, many people referred to Into the Radius as a weirder VR version of 2007’s PC shooter STALKER: Shadow of Chernobyl. That seems like I’m doing the game a disservice. Yes, both are about strange things happening in post-apocalyptic Russia, but Into the Radius has a certain frantic element that sets it apart.
It doesn’t cut any of the usual action game corners here, like all your ammo being thrown into one handy stack or your backpack having a neat grid organization system for loot. Instead, you handload magazines, track individual bullets, keep a watchful eye on your safety, sort through your own belongings, and perform manual chambering rounds. Both magazines and guns require hand maintenance with oil, brushes, and paper towels. When you need something quick, you stow it in one of the many (but finite) pouches your character wears on their torso.
This, in turn, means combat in Into the Radius is very on topic preparation. You essentially have as much ammo in a given fight as you have in your current Bandolier with spare magazines. When you need to reload in a hurry, you’ll inevitably experience a few moments of sheer terror when you realize you’ve grabbed an empty or half-full clip that you’ve saved.
It sounds like a pain in the neck, but I found it oddly meditative by the end. When you return to your base after a successful run through the radius – or at least one you survived – you end up having to empty your stuffed backpack onto a bench, sort through what you have, fix what’s broken and yours tedious reassemble kit.
Just in the radius somehow has an action. The game has no particular interest in sending you in any particular direction, aside from the light guidance you get from high-priority missions closest to a critical path. Into the Radius is huge, expansive and full of obstacles – it’s very easy to get in over your head. The monsters you encounter are often dumb but numerous, and they will hunt you to the ends of the earth once they hear or see you. A single unsuppressed shot at the wrong time can turn a milk run into a rolling disaster.
Between them, the semi-visible anomalies that roam the landscape, and the Dali landscapes that make up most of the zone, you’ll never feel like you’re really in control of your situation in Into the Radius. It’s tense, immersive, and often downright creepy.
Physics and Interaction Problems
However, gameplay is also often undermined by the game’s controls and physics, both of which aren’t quite up to the task. Take the virtual bag system, for example, which is often unreliable. There is room to stow gear on the hips, chest, upper arms and back, but items were particularly difficult to retrieve from the upper arm slots. I lost track of how many times I got my knife, map, or probes, but ended up having nothing at all.
The same problem applies to interactive elements. Opening cupboards or lockers is oddly difficult, while grabbing items from a table requires dealing with an unreliable context-sensitive prompt that’s not as easy to use as I’d like.
The physics is equally difficult to work with. Objects around you often shoot out in random directions as if they’ve been smeared, get lost in the tangle of ground, or ricochet off into the distance. It wasn’t uncommon to lose an empty pistol magazine or a thrown knife because they hit the ground and smashed through.
Normally I wouldn’t ding a game too hard due to physical glitches, but if there’s one thing that speaks for Into the Radius it’s an unrelenting sense of immersion. Part of the experience is having to scavenge for every single resource, including items like pistol magazines that other games typically gloss over. If you lose any of these resources through a random bug or bug, you will be instantly kicked out of the simulation.
These issues were already present in the earlier PC VR version of Into the Radius, but the Quest 2 version also features much lower graphics. Nine times out of ten, this doesn’t seriously affect the experience, but it also means that sometimes small objects blend easily into their surroundings and navigating a room in the dark is a futile exercise. In my playthrough, I also encountered a bug that displayed the visual effects of the Radius’ deadly anomalous zones (which are said to be invisible unless you use probes) at all times. This allows me to bypass one of the main mechanics of the game.
Into the Radius Quest 2 Review: Final Verdict
There’s a lot of things that Into the Radius gets right, but it’s a situation where you take a step forward and a step back. It’s one of the most immersive survival games in VR, but porting it to Quest 2 only amplifies its problems with bland graphics, dodgy physics, and imprecise interactions.
It’s a set of annoyances that would be easy to brush away in many other games, but Into twhe Radius’ emphasis on resource scarcity and precision under fire drives it crazy. A few years down the road, tighter physics and advances in standalone hardware might mean those issues go away, but for now, Into the Radius remains an interesting but flawed experience.
Despite the issues, Into the Radius is worth your time if you’re looking for a spooky all-or-nothing survival sim, but its reach far exceeds its reach.
UploadVR recently changed their rating policy and this is one of our new untagged rating categories. You can find more information about our evaluation guidelines here.