Review of RKGK/Rakugaki: Painting a Whole New Cityscape

RKGK / Rakugaki struggles in terms of storyline but shines as a 3D platformer.

By Jordan Ramée on May 30, 2024 at 10:30AM PDT

At first glance, the bold usage of color in RKGK / Rakugaki’s anime-inspired art style is hugely enticing. From the onset, the game’s story appears to be bursting with wild energy and absurdity, enhanced by gameplay where perfectly timed jumps and dashes reward the player with showers of color. However, as the game progresses, the aesthetic of each level begins to blend into the next, and the underlying storyline loses momentum, leaving the platforming challenges as the only evolving aspect of the game. Therefore, even if the story doesn’t leave a lasting impression, the acrobatic exploration of each level certainly manages to, lifting the game to impressive heights.

In RKGK, you are in control of Valah, who is a street artist turned rebel, determined to free her city from Mr. Buff, a corpulent tycoon aiming to enslave the public with mind-controlling billboard screens and a robot army. Armed with cans of spray paint, Valah combats Mr. Buff’s robotic minions in various third-person 3D platforming levels, retreating back to her headquarters between each mission to converse with fellow rebels or change outfits.

Every level of RKGK emerges as a separate challenging blend of varying platforms, exploding traps, winding rails, and destructible containers, all of which Valah has to skillfully navigate. A swarm of enemies infest each level but overcoming them with a swift spray of Valah’s paint presents no formidable challenge. Irrespective of some enemies posing a slightly higher challenge by using shields or launching area-of-effect attacks, stopping Valah, even on the increased difficulty where her health capacity is limited, is virtually impossible.

However, the main competitive aspect of each level is speed and not combat. Your performance at each level is assessed primarily based on completion time, indicating that the enemies are merely intended to slow Valah down rather than pose a significant combat challenge. The drive to achieve a faster completion time is the heart of RKGK, making replaying levels to find hidden shortcuts or devise quicker ways to link enough platforming combos without Valah getting hit, which would activate a speed boost forward, incredibly engaging. Discovering a new way to cut off vital seconds to win a higher grade feels like victory against the robot attackers in itself.

In line with its focus on speed, even RKGK’s boss battles are primarily centred around platforming, emphasizing Valah’s positioning and timing until the boss exposes itself to an attack. This approach, however, isn’t the most thrilling way to confront the enormous constructs that hinder Valah’s path and reduces the excitement derived from defeating them – taking cover behind a barricade waiting for the boss to crash into it isn’t nearly as thrilling as doing a daring leap to shave off time from a level.

Valah’s movements deliver a radiant sense of speed without compromising control – any missed jump or platform is a reflection of my own mistake and not a game failure. The progression of the platforming tasks provides a satisfying challenge. As Valah advances through the game and reaches later levels, she comes across platforms that move more quickly, traps spouting flames, along with increasingly obstructive hurdles. Even so, RKGK never piles on multiple new elements at once, but rather introduces them one by one, forcing the player to deal with the new obstacle a couple of times before integrating it with elements of the level design already experienced, thereby transforming a familiar challenge into a new one that you already have a basic idea of how to tackle.

This method of level design maintains a steady pace in progression for RKGK. Despite being on the harder difficulty levels, you’re rarely stuck for long. This allows you to move through each stage in minutes, moving on to the next stage at your own pace. Every level has secrets along the way and some have shortcuts. This encourages repeated plays to achieve higher grades and unlock more rewards, which can be used to purchase cosmetic items for Valah, such as outfits and paint colors.

The focus on replayability compensates for the weaknesses in RKGK’s storyline, which lacks depth and is quite dull. Valah, the protagonist, is difficult to empathize with as she throws around cliched one-liners common in action movies, and her character is not well developed. The story fails to delve into her rivalry with Mr. Buff or their respective motivations. Midway through, I found myself ignoring the storyline and playing purely for the well-crafted levels and the increasingly complex platforming challenges.

The mediocre narrative slightly dulls the aesthetics of the levels. While each level is well constructed with unique challenges, the majority of levels that Valah navigates look too similar. This coincides with Mr. Buff’s intent of creating a monotonous, lifeless world akin to the robots he commands, but ultimately results in many identical levels. This doesn’t negatively impact the gameplay of RKGK but impairs the overall recall value and weakens the narrative. The world becomes harder to care about due to its uniformity. I would have preferred if Valah’s efforts to rejuvenate each stage and remind people of their city’s uniqueness were projected in the game itself.

Valah’s world’s past glory is hinted at when she comes across hypnotic billboards that she can paint over for extra points, provided she has collected enough paint in the level. These instances display magnificent artwork inspired by Japanese anime and Mexico’s graffiti culture, indicating what Valah’s world used to be before becoming colorless. Seeing Valah create these works of art became a highlight for me while playing each level. Unfortunately, these instances are few, not showcasing one of the most impressive aspects of the game frequently.

RKGK / Rakugaki marks an entertaining debut for Wabisabi Games, skillfully merging a visually striking anime-like art style within a user-friendly 3D platformer. Though similar-looking surroundings, less than exciting boss fights, and an unremarkable narrative make it difficult to engage with the game’s narrative aspects, the gameplay remains solid and the level’s configuration presents a gratifying level of difficulty. Regardless of a forgettable storyline, my motivation to improve my accuracy and pace in my mission to constantly enhance my completion times is, as of now, still driving me to return.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Previous Article

Exploring the Unprecedented Espionage Act Case Involving a Drone Photographer

Next Article

AT&T Collaborates with Cisco for WAN Service using Fixed 5G Wireless Gateways

Related Posts