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Rage Quest: The Worst Game (PC) artwork

Rage Quest: The Worst Game (PC) review

"Making fun of bad game design with... bad game design."

The most common pitfall in satire is being so focused on making fun of your source materialís weaknesses that you unknowingly ape them in your pursuit of taking the piss. Imagine, then, my annoyance at watching Rage Quest: The Worst Game saunter casually head-first into such a trap in its opening minutes. Playing the role of a snarky self-aware protagonist dipping their toes into a RPGMaker game to see if itís worth their time, Ivy complains that a long, boring, unskippable cinematic used as a plot dump has rolled on so long that the burrito sheíd left in the microwave is probably cold by now. It could be labelled a funny set-up, humour is subjective and all that, but it still makes you sit through a long, boring, unskippable cinematic to make the joke that long, boring, unskippable cinematics are, like, the worst.

This is probably the lowest point of Rage Quest, and it happens in the opening minutes. Itís not until a few hours later that you realise that this was a set up for a much better constructed joke, and it certainly takes a gamble on the player hanging around long enough to see all the pay-offs. Before its four hour or so lifespan is over, Rage Quest will jump head first into many a JRPG trope to mock it from the very belly of the beast, all while proudly displaying the rage quit button in the options screen. It outright dares you to press it, throwing dodgy escort missions, unclear puzzle objectives, bad camera angles and overlong animations for spells at you to test your patience.

But Rage Quest grows into its satire, not really bearing its full focus on decades old clichťs like you might initially expect, but instead using well-worn mechanical issues and awful design choices to attack you from brand new angles. Thereís a boss fight that issues a party-wide counterattack every time itís physically struck. Not a problem; just take it on using only your arsenal of spells and attack items. Except, you canít; your moronic fighter is too dumb to follow commands, so his every action is to wade bravely into battle and start slashing shit up unprompted. Another dungeon is filled with roaming enemies who fling you back to the start of the crawl if they touch you. Usually, not a problem; they patrol in easily predictable patterns and sneaking your way through them shouldnít be that much of an issue. But the camera angle is set too far back, offering awful visibility and forcing you to stroll into the waiting claws of many a beast you could not see until it was far too late.

Itís often rage fuel, and thatís kind of the point. Youíre supposed to get annoyed at being punished unfairly, and wonít help but feel that every time you snarl at your screen, the gameís got one over on you. Itís a real fine line that Rage Quest tries to walk, and I wonít blame anyone for retiring early and trying to find a way to launch the game into the sun. But, at the same time, itís a lot cleverer than it really has any right to be. Everythingís so condensed and bite sized that even taking a dozen attempts more than you should to complete something because the gameís wonky mechanics keep tripping you up only takes you an extra handful of minutes. It makes the point that you should be progressing a lot faster than you are and are held back by poor design choices, but it never outright holds you back; it just smugly delays you from time to time.

Meanwhile, venturing out from the starting town pits you against such dangerous foes as Innocent Bunnies who menacingly sniff at the air, or Omnivorous Plants who use packets of kale crisps to restore flagging HP. Other enemies include misunderstand orcs who interpret your attacks as a traditional greenskin greeting and respond in kind in an attempt to make a new friend, or giant bee enemy that attacks you once, disembowels itself upon stabbing you with its stinger, and collapses into a little pile of agony to slowly die. Youíve a protagonist who declares war on the fourth wall, adopting the voice of a gamer losing more and more of their patience, and a world full of NPCs who either donít care about you, or openly hate you.

Thereís enough going on in the world for you to want to delve further in and see how the next town might troll you with poorly localized dialogue, or how the newest enemy will sap your HP away with a library of bad puns. Rage Quest works hard to make sure itís not just the same joke repeated ad nauseam, culminating in a brilliantly frustrating final dungeon where a fantastically creative end-of-game boss awaits you. Not everyone will make it this far, because even though Rage Questís first few hours are purposefully bumpy, theyíre bumpy all the same. Patience breeds rewards in this case, though; youíll just need to suck it up for a while until you get there.


EmP's avatar
Staff review by Gary Hartley (March 06, 2018)

Gary Hartley arbitrarily arrives, leaves a review for a game no one has heard of, then retreats to his 17th century castle in rural England to feed whatever lives in the moat and complain about you.

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overdrive posted March 06, 2018:

I'd read about this game somewhere for some reason at some time and you kind of hit on what I'd gleaned. That on one level, this is a pretty fun look at annoying tropes and features in RPGs, but on the other hand, it falls into the trap of being those tropes while laughing at them, making it kind of annoying. Good take on how it accomplishes that stuff, for good and bad.
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Masters posted March 06, 2018:

Nicely done. A particularly good intro, I thought. Although you misspelled 'unskippable' -- barely a word in the first place -- on two occasions in the first paragraph. ^_^
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EmP posted March 07, 2018:

Three times, really. But that's the problem; as you say, unskipable's not really a word so there's no correct spelling. But it's the word I needed, so it'll have to do.

Thanks for reading, guy. I should point out that I liked Rage Quest. It's got several very clever moments, but it wants to enrage you and it will. That should be considered.

That escort stage... the horror...

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