Reaching into the nostalgia of Action RPG exploration and pulling out the very best game mechanics while managing to forge completely new feels at the same time arrives Rack N Ruin on the PlayStation 4 from LifeSpark Entertainment made up of former Blizzard Entertainment talent reborn in the indie world. Hit up merchants for unique spells, collect the souls of the innocent for your devilish masters, and survive onslaughts from wizards, knights, dragons, even cryptic warriors as abilities are earned and willpower is tested. Players take the role of one dark minion who must wreak havoc on well prepared armies of ‘do-gooders’, rid dungeons of the filthy ‘goodie goodies’, solve a few puzzles here and there just to get every door unlocked, leave no stone un-turned, no chest un-pillaged (that’s a word right?), and engage in dark humor laughing maniacally the whole time.
Some of the most impressive points in Rack N Ruin lie in the polish its gameplay exhibits. A bit of getting used to the controls is quickly forgotten as their well thought out placement begins to feel appreciated and great enemy design is revealed. Especially so for the boss battles, Rack N Ruin is clearly a well put together game. Multiple enemy types may be re-used here and there, but ways that players end up defeating them can change based on what kind of foe group formation attacks. For example, a large healer / knight enemy may come strong and while it requires players to run away and attack with ranged fireballs, bombs and swordplay may be called for in dealing with its reinforcements.
Character development and plot are obviously well written though not taking themselves too seriously and leaning back towards fun, light-hearted, and humorous. It’s a shame that there’s no voice acting in the game. Personally I’d rather have had semi-decent to even terrible actors / actresses reading off the script to save my eyes the trouble. However, that being said, many players don’t mind reading and in the RPG genre it’s expected to some extent. Though there are no major RPG elements to the game the many abilities, spells, and item accumulation that occurs gives it a feel that would likely be sat alongside games like Legend of Zelda: A Link To The Past if it had come out back in the Super Nintendo days. This is of course a huge compliment to the game but at the same time puts massive pressure on the developer to live up to a masterpiece. I’m happy to say that Rack N Ruin doesn’t disappoint anyone looking for that dungeon raiding, open world experience with plenty of map space to chart and terrorize.
Areas where Rack N Ruin could improve begin with the graphics. Don’t get me wrong, the title is beautiful and beyond what most indie titles coming out of the Unity engine in the top-down camera aspect will offer. There’s enough animations to keep players feeling a high quality experience, presentation nails the feel and vibe giving way to immersion, and for the most part high fidelity texturing techniques have been put to work. Suffice to say, the game’s visuals are so good that it’s obvious the artistry behind it could be slightly better. I hope to see more from this developer in the future and hope Rack N Ruin allows the success for more time to be given to this department, but I’m pleased with the amount of attention that has been spread instead to the areas of gameplay mechanic design, level design, and enemy design. Puzzles are not my favorite thing in a game, but these could probably use a bit more variety as well.
The soundtrack for Rack N Ruin sounds great. As players push through the game there are plenty of tracks to populate the scenery and each does its job of giving atmosphere to the moments surrounding their debut. However, more variety could have been given to when each track is played. In a game where exploring each nook and cranny are optional but major parts of the experience, it sometimes becomes annoying to hear the same track played over and over again. Understandably, this could be difficult to avoid – but has been done successfully in some games that could be argued to have influenced Rack N Ruin in the first place.
Again, these should be taken as minor points of improvement for an excellent game and are in no way indicative of anything game-breaking. With a little added complexity and re-thinking of these areas we’d love to see a sequel and greatly encourage everyone to give Rack N Ruin a buy right now if this review even remotely tingles their ‘spidey senses’ – it won’t be regretted. Take a look below at the video version of this review on our new YouTube channel complete with PS4 Gameplay Footage (No Spoilers) and Commentary.
RealGamerNewz Video Review:
Rack N Ruin does what many indie games have trouble doing in that it knows what it wants to be, it aims for a niche experience that isn’t really being represented well in the market right now, and it executes a unique vision quite well within that spectrum. Sony has done good to make sure this title arrived on the PlayStation 4 platform and is definitely a great grab from the independent development world. We hope to see continued interest from them in curating fun titles with plenty of merit even if it means sometimes rejecting games that failed to reach the remarkable quality level of Rack N Ruin. At the same time, it is worth mentioning that the title is self published by LifeSpark Entertainment and we hope to see more work emerge from this firm in the future.
Overall Score: 8 / 10
RGN Rating: Silver Game
Developer / Publisher: LifeSpark Entertainment
Available On: PS4 | Windows PC | Mac OS X | Android | iOS
Played On: Sony PlayStation 4
Review Copy Info: Three digital copies of this game were provided to RealGamerNewz for the purpose of this Review.
Editor’s Note: RealGamerNewZ has moved web servers, some older posts can no longer be commented on and have been preserved without their images. Thank you for your understanding in this matter. This article was written by Jon Ireson on 20150331 and was last modified on 20150331 .