Wrack is an arcade-style first-person shooter from Final Boss Entertainment. The game features a stylized art style in its cel-shaded world and level design. Its cel-shaded aesthetic results in a very cool, comic book looking world filled with big swords, aggressive aliens and killer robots. Wrack takes its inspiration from shooters of the past like Doom. The game also grabs inspiration from other old school games like Mega Man and Contra. Plenty of those influences show when playing through Wrack. Not only does it draw inspiration from Doom, but Bobby Prince provided the score for the game. Prince composed the music for Doom, so it has a solid basis to build a new shooter while taking inspiration from genre defining games.
Much like many games currently on Steam, Wrack is in Early Access. While the game is unfinished at the moment, there is a good amount of content available for its Beta phase while offering Alpha pricing. Not only does it feature the main campaign (in its current state of Beta), but also contains a Time Attack and Score Mode for players to run through the levels with different goals in mind. It also features new maps for players to play around with after checking out the main content and quick play options. For an Early Access game, it houses a good amount of content. It is easy to see where Wrack is heading as Final Boss Entertainment provides biweekly updates; there is a solid foundation for a game here. More importantly, it currently is a game and not a proof of concept.
There is plenty to like about Wrack from its pretty visuals and amazing soundtrack to its fast paced shooter gameplay. It is not a complete game at the moment and still has some work ahead of it to become a solid final product, but there is a good start here. Playing through Wrack’s campaign, the Beta-ness of it all is readily apparent. The storyboard style cut-scene are charming enough when they are complete, but the sketched out pieces expose the main weakness of Wrack: the writing. For the style of arcade shooter Wrack is emulating, the writing is on the money, but the style is out dated and comes across as trying really hard. The humor is strained. The problem is that none of the characters are introduced, Wrack expects players to know these characters and their relationships. Without any base level introduction of the various characters in the game, the witty repartee comes off flat and boring. The plot is not bad though. In Wrack’s world, world hunger has been solved and fighting over resources is a thing of the past thanks to the Hyperion Generator. This results in World Peace. As a result of basic needs being met easily, the world goes soft and disbands all armies making the Earth ripe for invasion. That happens and it is up to Kain (main protagonist) to fight back against an alien and robot invasion. It works as a set up for Wrack’s fast paced shooting, but the writing execution is painful at times. It has the potential for a Die Hard sort of vibe, but comes off as Hudson Hawk minus the sweet crooning.
The gameplay is fun. It has a good speed to the shooting nailing an arcade-y vibe. The game’s various levels have an interesting industrial and dystopian vibe to them. In parts, they seem right out of a Terry Gilliam movie and in others, it feels like a mix between the chaos of the Fifth Element and the bleakness of Blade Runner. While the weapons are fairly standard: a pistol, shotgun, particle rifle and bazooka, they work well and fit the speed of gameplay. The coolest weapon in Kain’s arsenal is his Hyperblade, which can wreck some powerful melee damage on enemies. Nothing is more exciting than seeing an alien explode into a mist of viscera and blood after a swipe from the Hyperblade. It’d be interesting to see more melee focused content coming through the pipeline, but as it stands, using the Hyperblade is a nice alternative to the gunplay. The gameplay still has some ways to go though. Much of the issues can be attributed to its Beta and Early Access nature, but the enemy AI and movement patterns sometimes get wonky and repetitive making the game’s challenge a bit lopsided. Also, the mouse and stick sensitivity is sometimes way too high and even correcting it in the settings has the aiming blazing across the screen like it took adderall. The kinks should get smoothed out as the developers continue working on the game. If the enemy AI is improved a bit then there is plenty to be excited for with Wrack.
Wrack is a gorgeous looking game with an incredible soundtrack from Bobby Prince. The gameplay is fun, but could use some improvement as Final Boss Entertainments continues to tinker with it through the Beta stages. There have been attempts to make a cel-shaded shooter that plays as good as it looks. Wrack has the potential to do this, but as with all Early Access games, it still has some ways to go. However, as it stands now, Wrack is at least way better than XIII for the PS2, GameCube and Xbox.
For anyone interesting in checking out Wrack for a nicely discounted price, it is currently available on Steam as part of Early Access.