By: Ted Chow
One part bullet hell, one part isometric hack n’ slash, Rack N’ Ruin is an indie title that has made its way from the PS4 to PC. While overly simple in its premise, the game does have an artistic charm that draws you in. If you’re looking for a casual title that doesn’t take itself too seriously, Rack N’ Ruin can provide some solid hours of fun.
Allowing for keyboard and controller support, Rack N’ Ruin feels natural with both forms of play. The movement of Rack is smooth and the range combat can feel like a bullet hell game as you dodge particles of light coming toward your character. Item swapping is as simple as a button press or you can just switch the item in your item bar manually. Overall, smooth controls led to an enjoyable experience with no glaring issues.
Rack N’ Ruin focuses more on the free form painterly look rather than the crispness of the cartoony line art. And to that degree, Rack N’ Ruin is both unique and retro in its character design. The environments feel like a throwback to some old school titles from the SNES generation. The soundtrack is minimalistic at best and is not a priority of the game, although the sound effects are well done.
Rack N’ Ruin plays like an action RPG as you control Rack across multiple levels on a planet he was sent to conquer and enslave. You will gain access to new weapons and items to help you take on the residents of the world.
These items will have multiple effects from leaving poison clouds to summoning floating eyeballs that shoot purple particles to damage enemies. With these tools in your arsenal, you will have fun creative ways to take on your opponents, even if they may not be the most optimal.
The game also utilizes puzzle mechanics to bring some thought to the seemingly pre-dominant hacking and slashing of enemies. Certain areas will require you to activate a switch that will open new hidden areas or secret passages to additional treasures.
Most of the puzzles are easy to decipher, but certain areas can require some thought to progress forward. While not overly excessive, the puzzles do break up the monotony by adding some environmental interactions.
Aside from the antics that Rack will pull off in his quest to enslave the denizens of the world, there are some light RPG narratives. During your adventure you will come across wicked witches to crazy psychics, all adding some context to the game’s universe. These interactions provide some much needed exposition to what would otherwise be a mindless kill fest.
Rack N’ Ruin is one of those games that has a premise that seems cliché, but it’s entertaining enough for any player looking for some old school nostalgia. While it is a title that doesn’t necessary stand out amongst the number of games that provide a similar experience, it does have a solid foundation to anchor players that give the game a chance.