Developed by Lifespark Entertainment and published by Secret Item Games, Rack N Ruin is cutesy, colourful top-down action-adventure game. The game is vibrant with colour, with some pretty landscapes and fun cartoon-style graphics. If you ever felt like being the bad guy then playing as Rack – an angry little demon who wants to enslave a world – might be just the game you are looking for.
The story has you take the part of Rack, a short, sinister demon who has a habit of blowing up planets for his master Ruin. However, Ruin is not happy as he has no one to rule over and demands Rack go to the next planet Galia and enslave the beings there. Galia is a sort of earth-like fantasy world with grassy and desert areas. It is inhabited by human-like beings as well as random other beings like small knights in armour and massive knights…in armour. There are also small anthropomorphic cats with weapons and elemental blobs amongst many others that want to defend the world from you. Some mystical humans like a witch and a wizard want to assist you in your mission but seem unaware of what evil to seek to bring the world.
You play in a top-down view which is zoomed in a bit too far for my liking as you often get caught out by enemies with no time to react. It plays like a mix between a roguelike action game and a bullet hell game as its quite easy for the screen to fill up with enemies or projectiles bouncing around. Luckily you have the tools with which to combat this. Rack starts with a fire projectile to tackle the early enemies and a bubble shield to deflect the projectile onslaught. But using the shield consumes your mana, as does some of the elemental weaponry you pick up as you progress through the game. There is also an overabundance of items that you can collect in the game by defeating enemies, smashing pots or opening chests. Some of the items have obvious uses, and you can place them in one of the 8 available slots on your game bar which you use the bumper buttons to switch through on the fly. Bizarrely some of the items have the description ‘is one enough’ or ‘One more chance’ – I have no idea what they do and it’s never explained. But these items become more important as you progress through the game and take on the bosses or the puzzles.
The combat is relatively simple even if the screen can sometimes be overloaded. You can lock in on the enemies and fire at them one by one and you can adjust who you want to target. Using weapon upgrades and items the combat is made much easier but it comes at a cost. Every enemy you defeat drops souls and this becomes the game’s currency. You can also obtain them from smashing pots and boxes. The souls are used to corrupt certain areas of the map which is part of your mission in enslaving the world. But souls can also be used to pay for items from certain humans or to upgrade your spells.
Sadly this game suffers from a lack of direction in a few areas. Firstly you are given basic unhelpful directions by the ghost of your predecessor who says to go east or west. But compounded with that is a really unhelpful map which although it shows an arrow to where you need to get to, that is easier said than done as you have to traverse the area in different directions to get about. There is also some puzzle elements which is usually around the door opening mechanisms inside the dungeons, but also outside in the main areas. These involve using your telekinesis skill to move blocks onto pressure plates or using your elemental weapons in a specific way to complete the puzzle. But with a lot of the puzzles, there is no hand-holding so you need to muddle your way through which can be tricky at times.
Despite releasing on Steam five years ago Rack N Ruin still holds up OK as challenging action game, though it isn’t too long. This is reinforced by the fact there is an achievement for finishing the game in less than an hour and 45 minutes so you can roughly gauge how long a casual player can tackle it in.
Rack N Ruin is a typical action-adventure game and hits all the right points required to make it a good game, but does suffer a few minor drawbacks. The zoomed in view, terrible map and confusing puzzles could put some off, but there is a lot of charm to the game. The fact you play as a cute but evil demon on a sinister mission which no one seems to take too seriously is a nice change of view and graphically it is enjoyable and quite easy to play. A nice pickup for those who fancy tackling a short but tricky action game.
This game was tested and reviewed on Xbox. All of the opinions and insights here are subject to that version. Game provided by publisher.Want to keep up to date with the latest Xt reviews, Xt opinions and Xt content? Follow us on Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube.