Rack N Ruin Review
Rack N Ruin is a buddy comedy about evil. There's Lord Ruin, immobile and bulky, the brains. Elsewhere is Rack. Henchman. Budding devil with an adorable swinging tail and cape.
They're designed and animated with a series of delicate brush strokes. Beautiful, sure, but odd considering Rack N Ruin's demented streak.
The duo turn worlds, sapping the positive vibes to replace them with their twisted darkness. Banter loves to spit out a wealth of mean-spirited diatribes and appropriate angst. It's certainly a video game which carries an antagonistic attitude down into gameplay. Pathway signs belie those who wish to find help and Rack N Ruin is consistent in its, “figure it out” attitude. Basic guidance systems are for the weak, it seems.
Read the manual, if it had one
Playability is only for those who push on aimlessly and stumble upon answers. It is amongst a sub-genre which is over-eager in regards to proudly cryptic and ambiguous solutions. There is no presented design argument as to why this is a positive outcome.
Aimless, directionless walking makes up much of Rack N Ruin. The set-up lacks instruction. Foundations are privy to a familiar top-down mold - Legend of Zelda, of course – but with limited understanding as to how well comparable software offers the guiding occult hand. Rack N Ruin's map is too free. Go anywhere, it says, but for what purpose or meaning is never made clear.
“Figure it out,” again.
Maybe the duo could pick a more consistent world to conquer?
Progression is (often) nearly imperceptible. Rack meanders about, interacting with an environment faulted by drastic inconsistencies in perspective. Some ledges can be leaped off, others cannot. Trees are a barrier; trees are not a barrier. A bridge may be walked under, another is used as an impenetrable natural fence. There are more bridges that can be walked over as if they do not exist; their edges are background décor. Maybe the duo could pick a more consistent world to conquer? Certainly there are others to choose from.
There is much to speak of regarding Rack N Ruin's darkly charming (certainly not politically correct) tale of death, misery, and destruction, but little space to allow mention. Problems continue to mount. Promises of a blending of retro-tuned bullet hell shooters and adventures are an incentive to play are crushed by an antiquated (and inadequate) lock-on system. A gnarly, erratic difficulty swing is commonplace, a fault almost entirely levied on this mechanical set-up.
A story all about how right got flipped, turned upside down
It's almost there – flashes of brilliance left to the wayside in tatters. In fact, there is some sanctity in how well composed the pseudo-shooter methods are. Ducking between patterns of enemy fire, conveniently patterned glowing orbs always finds a satisfying (and tense) melding to the controller if done well. And here, it's done well.
What those mechanisms are attached to is the problem: bosses, dungeons, discoverability. To say Rack N Ruin is formulaic – albeit acknowledged as such – is correct. Oddly, it makes other games better rather than its own. Rack N Ruin's sightless goals perk up those who have done it well.
I guess it's true: Evil never wins.