There are games with difficulty settings and then there are games that are difficult to play, Rack N Ruin is one of the latter. On first glance Rack N Ruin looks reminiscent of the early Zelda games, a top down action adventure but where Zelda was the hero you play a villain, a villain by the name of Rack. Will this be the game where a villain actually reigns supreme? Well, that’s what the rest of the review is for.
You play as Rack, a demon servant who is sent to various worlds to conquer and ravage them in the name of your master i.e. Ruin. You have been given the task of turning all that is good in the world to darkness, if you don’t then you will banished. As mentioned before all the action takes place from a top down perspective in a very Zelda-esque way. You have to navigate your way round destroying various enemies(goodies?) as you progress along your adventure of pain.
Rack N Ruin is a hard game, there’s very little in terms of guidance and the enemies get harder to beat very quickly. You will die a lot and will become very frustrated with how few and far the checkpoints are. A major issue with Rack N Ruin is the lack of where you need to go, the map is useless and you’ll find yourself getting lost and going back over various areas you’ve already been through. The signs you come across contain pitiful information such as ‘Go South’, that’s a great sign if there was something else besides enemies when you ‘Go South’. There’s just a complete lack of information in regards to what your weapons do and where you’re suppose to go. There’s a witch who sells things but you rarely have enough information available to let you know whether something is worth buying or not, even finding where the witch is on a map is not mentioned anywhere. Also the worlds you traverse are not that open, you usually have one or two paths to follow with not much manoeuvrability, you would have thought that would have made it easier to head towards your destination, it doesn’t.
A clever concept you’ll find as you move forward with Rack N Ruin is that there are quests that can be completed but remember you’re the villain so if you’re told to find something you actually end up destroying it. There are many puzzles to get past, it’s a good range and probably one of the least frustrating and more innovative part of Rack N Ruin. Unfortunately to get to the puzzle elements of Rack N Ruin you need to try to get through a lot of combat, a lot of repetitive and unfulfilling combat. Being a villain you would hope that Rack would have some good weapons and lots of them, that’s not the case. Your melee attack is pretty useless especially when there are multiple foes. The enemies are multiple in number, the best tactic is to go in get a couple of shots off, back away let them come at you (don’t let too many chase you though) and then go back in and hit them again, repeat. The fighting is just repetitive at best and frustrating mundane at its worst. Although the attacking bunnies is quite funny to begin with, they latch on and you have to shake them off.
The worlds themselves are reasonably varied, the enemies are fairly innovative in design whilst the changes between the light and dark is quite cool. The combat effects are minimalist but at least it makes it easier to know who you’re hitting. Rack N Ruin is very text heavy and reminiscent of old school adventure games, although make sure you don’t skip the dialogue as you may miss something important, something that won’t be explained whilst you’re in the world.
Rack N Ruin is a throwback to a simpler but much more difficult gaming time. There are various parts that are enjoyable but there’s also too many times Rack N Ruin becomes to frustrating to play, maybe that’s why there aren’t many games where you play the villain, because the villain shouldn’t win and Rack N Ruin does its best to play it that way. If you miss the old school Zelda days then Rack N Ruin will bring back some good memories but they’ll be interspersed by several very frustrating moments along the way.
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