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‘Rack N Ruin’ Preview: Former Blizzard Artist’s New Creation

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It’s not often you get to be the bad guy, so it was intriguing to see the direction Lifespark Entertainment would take with their new title Rack N Ruin, under the guidance of former Blizzard artist Tyler Hunter. You play as Rack, a seed of destruction and a tiny demon lord who has destroyed countless worlds, rather than forcing the world to succumb to its knees. Ruin, the greatest of all demon lords, loathes Racks destructive nature as he leaves no worlds to enslave and rule. Ruin gives Rack one last chance to obey, with failure ending in being cast into the void for eternity. Editors Nathan Manning and Ryan Livingstone were given the chance to experience the early Alpha build of Rack N Ruin.

Ryan: It is very barebones at the moment being an early Alpha build, but there is great potential would you agree?

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Nathan: I definitely agree! What we were presented with was very basic. The build showed off some gameplay elements, a dungeon and a boss fight. To accompany the level was a musical score of only a couple of songs, and a range of sound effects for various things. However, I found myself still enjoying the game. Being an Alpha build on an isolated level of Rack N Ruin, Lifespark Entertainment has left a lot of things out of the game and everything we mention is subject to change. I love a good dungeon-crawler and, like you Ryan, I can see the amazing potential in Rack N Ruin. Even though the build was not crawling with content (it was just an Alpha of course), what aspect of the game stood out for you during your time with the game, Ryan?

Ryan: I would say the dungeon that we got to play through was the best thing about it. It mixed a variety of enemies with decently challenging puzzles that you had to overcome. There were about four or five different enemies throughout the dungeon that were often mixed to provide more challenging gameplay but I found they were reasonably easy to kill. If difficulty levels can be changed it will of course makes thing a bit tougher, but being an early alpha build it gave us a look at what we are we should expect.

Each level of the dungeon had a new puzzle to solve which got progressively more difficult and definitely make a worthy addition to the experience. I also enjoyed the small soundtrack that varied depending on the state of the world. Before you taint the land the music is more uplifting, compared to when you corrupt the world, the music becomes more dark and ominous. At the moment we only got to experience one boss and loot was quite limited, what did you think of the boss encounters and the items/weapons we got to use?

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Nathan: I’ll get to your question in a moment, but first I’d like to provide a rebut to the difficulty of the enemies. A lot of the enemies follow an attack pattern and you have to figure it out in order to not get hit. The challenge in the enemies comes when a large amount are placed in one room. This makes the action frantic as you are trying to move around not getting hit.

As for the boss encounter, I’m indifferent. On one hand, I loved the art design of the boss itself, and I like that it did not go for an overextended amount of time. On the other hand, I did not get the satisfaction you usually get from beating a boss. I cannot pinpoint what it is, but there is something exciting about being able to defeat a long and harder boss that I did not feel in Rack N Ruin.

The boss was a multi-faced head with what looked like electric, revolving legs sprouting out the side. The boss had varied attacks, such as creating beams of light that travelled in a set pattern and the ability to chase you around the arena, and was often aided by monsters from the dungeon. I managed to kill him in less than five minutes.

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The weapons we got to use in the build were good, but I would not say we have not seen them before. There were three weapons to use in the build, well a majority were spells. There was the fireball, which was basically your ranged attack and would one hit most things; the lightning could chain to many enemies, but took longer to kill them; the sword did what swords do and was your melee attack. I used the fireball the most because it was quicker and meant I could attack enemies from a distance. The lightning spell is mostly used for solving puzzles and, so far, is the only attack that used up some kind of green energy bar.

The items are where things get interesting. I found about five items during my play through and they all worked differently. There was your usual health potion, a bomb that detonated on a timer, floating eyeballs that attack enemies for you (of which you can have more than one at once, I had three at one point), some kind of potion shaped in the form of a seahorse (at least that’s what it looked like to me), and a statue like item that sent fire into numerous directions when it was hit. I found all of the items useful and I cannot wait to see what other items Lifespark can create. We’ve talked about gameplay and the levels, but what did you think about the art style, Ryan?

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Ryan: I’ll mention something I do want to see something implemented in the dungeons; checkpoints. It was very frustrating getting towards the end of the dungeon and dying, and then getting sent back all the way to the start with everything reset. So hopefully that will come into the game as it is developed.

The artwork in this game is really good; the environments are fully HD hand-painted, with traditionally animated characters. The lighting and particle effects are brought to life through 3D, and it all blends together really well. The environments are also fully changeable, when you corrupt an area, it will become a dark vision of its former self. The forest changes from a bright area filled with life, to a dark place with eyeballs in the ground, trees turned into monsters and dark enemies. I absolutely enjoyed the artwork that has been put into this game, it is seemingly simple but it has a good visual aesthetic.

Reshaping the area through corruption also felt different, as usually you are cleansing the evil, rather than tainting the land. It is a concept that I really enjoy though, it feels good to be the bad guy for a change. Unfortunately we didn’t get to experience any character talk so it was hard to attach yourself to Rack, but as mentioned before it is an early alpha so that will come in time. Any last thoughts Nathan?

Nathan: After playing the Alpha build of Rack N Ruin, I am extremely excited to see the finished product. I am a sucker for hand drawn art styles, and the puzzle element of the game was at just the right difficulty for me to feel satisfied with solving them. Rack N Ruin is definitely going to be a game I watch out for and I am interested to see what other features Lifespark Entertainment put into the game.

Rack N Ruin looks like it could be a gem of an indie game, with the early alpha build designed impressively. It will be interesting to see what else Lifespark Entertainment will add to this game, so keep in tune for our interview with former blizzard artist Tyler Hunter who is directing this game. Let us know if the comments below if you are currently following this game, or if our impressions made you curious about this new title.

Ryan Livingstone is the PC Editor at Analog Addiction. You can also follow his blog on MyIGN, or send him an e-mail at ryan_13_10@hotmail.com.

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