Fighting games are a blast to play, but the genre isn’t always the most accessible to new players. Rising Thunder strips away the difficulty of learning a new fighting game, while maintaining surprisingly deep gameplay. Best of all, it’s a blast to play.

Rising Thunder has been available as a free download since July. Radiant Entertainment showed off the latest build of the game at PAX Prime. Players can choose from six characters—Dauntless, Chel, Talos, Crow, Vlad, and Edge. Dauntless can be considered an aggressive offensive character with extra range on his normal attacks. Chel employs projectiles and an anti-air uppercut to control spacing in a match. Talos and Vlad are the heavy hitters that do most of their damage up close, while Crow and Edge are characters using various mix-up techniques and attacks to confuse opponents.

“When we tried to teach our friends to play or get them excited about a fighting game, they were immediately intimidated because of the difficult controls,” said Tom Cannon, Radiant’s CEO. “Rising Thunder is a deep, strategic fighting game with all of the elements you’d expect. We’ve got cancels, a juggle system, trapping, and baiting. The only thing we’ve done, which is pretty revolutionary if you’re a die hard, is take away all the difficult move inputs.”

The key to Rising Thunder is the simple, user-friendly control scheme. Every character features three normal attacks, such as a punch or kick, as well as three special moves mapped to specific buttons. Players need to wait for a cooldown in order to use the special attack again. But Radiant doesn’t throw out combos and advanced techniques. Instead, it cultivates advanced play by giving players the freedom to experiment without the baggage of complex controller motions and button combinations. The result is a unique fighting game experience that is incredibly easy to pick up.

rising thunder

Rising Thunder simplifies the fighting game genre.

When you’re learning any new fighting game, there’s an adjustment period. I played through most of Rising Thunder’s roster. I enjoyed playing Edge the most. He provides a lot of offensive and defensive options. And I liked his move sets, which include a Street Fighter Ryu-style Dragon Punch uppercut and a dash that can be appended with any of the normal and special attacks. The attacks come from different angles, giving Edge players opportunities to set up their opponents for a potential high-damage combo if they aren’t prepared.

Unlike some fighting games that focus on pure, aggressive offense, Rising Thunder gives players defensive options. The game employs a Kinetic meter that allows players to choose between a more offensive or a more defensive style. To be fair, Kinetic options add another layer and tactics that players need to learn, but the developers are doing a fantastic job at making everything user-friendly. Given time, everything just clicks and that’s what the developers are hoping for. They want a fighting game that new players can have fun playing by simply picking up a controller or using a keyboard.

Rising Thunder is available to download for free now at its official website. Radiant Entertainment will continue to add new features, characters, and more as development continues on the free-to-play fighting game.

“If you’re excited about the idea of high-action twitch combat games, but you’ve been intimidated by fighting games, this is the game for you. We’re making it for the hardcore gamer but we’re making it for you too. We want everyone to come together and have that competitive experience,” said Cannon.

This article was written by

Michael Martin is a Seattle-based freelance writer who has far too many pop culture mash-up shirts than he'd care to admit. He writes news and features for IGN, contributes to TechnologyTell's Gaming Channel, and has written for Kill Screen. He's a father of kids ranging from newborn to 19 years old, and they've never needed to worry about not having video games, which might make him a cool dad.