Skip to main content

RKGK mashes Hi-Fi Rush and Jet Set Radio up into one stylish game

Valah stands in front of graffiti in RKGK.
Gearbox Publishing

Like a lot of gamers, I was stunned when I learned that Xbox had shuttered Tango Gameworks earlier this month. The exceptionally talented studio had just come off a banner year where it released the critically beloved Hi-Fi Rush. Despite being labeled as a success by Xbox executives, that wasn’t enough to save Tango, which was shut down as it actively tried to pitch a sequel. It’s discouraging news that’s led to me wishing more publishers were willing to nurture creative ideas from smaller teams.

In that sense, RKGK‘s timing couldn’t be better. On its surface, the new platforming adventure from Wabisabi Games bears a striking resemblance to Hi-Fi Rush. It’s a colorful game about counterculture rebellion, and it’s all set to a high-energy soundtrack. Its graffiti gameplay hook calls to mind Jet Set Radio more than the musical action of Hi-Fi Rush, but it has the same youthful spirit that makes that game so special.

Though RKGK is much rougher around the edges than the games it’s inspired by, its development story is a hopeful one for an industry currently mired in chaos. The project, a debut from a team based in Latin America, was made with the support of Riot Games’ Underrepresented Founders Program. That donation helped a new studio find its footing and experiment in a way that will only help it grow. RKGK might not be a perfect debut, but it’s the kind of project I want to see much more of as publishers pull support from studios with creative visions to chase.

Valah leaps up to a platform in RKGK.
Gearbox Publishing

In RKGK, players take control of Valah, a graffiti artist living in Cap City.  The metropolis has found itself brainwashed by an evil corporation using hypnotizing screens around town. It’s up to Valah, with the help of the titular RKGK organization, to paint over those screens with graffiti and take down the nefarious Mr. Buff. It’s a fairly boilerplate story, but the simplicity of it makes it feel like a throwback to the Sega Dreamcast era.

Wabisabi Games gets a lot of chances to flex its muscles with its fast-paced platforming hooks. In each level, I need to traverse platforming gauntlets while picking up paint cans. I can use those to spray over dozens of screens scattered around each level with a quick button press, freeing a bit more of the city each time. If I’ve sprayed over enough by the end of each chapter, I can pop into a boss fight that has me dodging robot attacks (we’re talking classic “jump over dangerous circles” encounters) and spraying their screens. It’s all very classical in nature, with a collect-a-thon platformer design that’s not far off from old-school Nintendo design.

While the level goals are basic, RKGK presents some neat mobility ideas that show Wabisabi Games’ potential. I can use Valah’s spray cans to zip around on the ground, like a Splatoon squid zooming through ink. Holding it in the air also lets me hover, and that doubles as an offensive measure as the blast will hurt any robots under me. Those little techniques pair with RKGK‘s jungle gym-like level design, which has me hopping up platforms and grinding down rails at high speeds. Speedrunning seems to be a clear focus here, as a lot of levels can be completed in under a minute if I’m not stopping to collect cans or paint screens. That quick pace, paired with its colorful art, should make for a fun spectator sport.

Valah squares off against a boss in RKGK.
Gearbox Publishing

It’s not that I love RKGK. It very much feels like a debut full of first ideas. Combat is shallow and the spray-painting loop doesn’t change much from its opening level. But what I appreciate is that Wabisabi Games actually got a chance to get its first idea out the door with the help of a publisher that sees the value in growing studios like this. There are enough promising ideas here that I’m hopeful that the studio can now build on that momentum and take its creativity further. That’s a luxury that a lot of studios aren’t getting right now, but few masterpieces come from a studio’s first up at bat. Having space to learn and experiment is key.

If you’re looking to see a bright-eyed new studio grow, RKGK is a fun little debut that’s packed with potential. Given the space to iterate and evolve, I imagine that Wabisabi Games will be able to make an even bigger splash on its next outing. Let’s just hope that a currently volatile games landscape gives it the space and resources it needs to succeed.

RKGK is out now on PC.

Editors' Recommendations

Topics
Giovanni Colantonio
Giovanni is a writer and video producer focusing on happenings in the video game industry. He has contributed stories to…
How to join the Call of Duty: Black Ops 6 beta
A squad stands together in Call of Duty: Black Ops 6.

This year, Call of Duty: Black Ops 6 is really pushing the single-player campaign in its marketing. Set in the early 1990s, this story promises all the twists, turns, betrayals, and mind-blowing reveals the series is known for. But for a majority of players, that's just an afterthought compared to the competitive multiplayer. After the Call of Duty: Black Ops 6 Direct showed off the new movement systems and reworked Prestige progression, players are itching to get their hands on the latest and greatest in multiplayer first-person shooter action. October 25 isn't that far off, but it's long enough to make the wait agonizing. Like every year, however, Activision is giving everyone the chance to get some matches in before launch with a beta test. Gaining access is easy, but only if you know how.
How to join the Black Ops 6 beta
The only way to reserve your slot in the Call of Duty: Black Ops 6 beta is to preorder a copy of the game on the platform of your choice, be it PlayStation 4, PS5, Xbox One, Xbox Series X/S, or PC. There are two versions available to preorder via the official Call of Duty site -- Standard/Cross-gen and Vault -- but it doesn't matter which one you purchase. Also, if you are a Game Pass subscriber, then you do not need to preorder to join the beta. If you preordered a physical copy, you will get a code that you can redeem at callofduty.com/betaredeem to gain access to the beta when it launches. Digital owners will automatically gain access on their platform.

The dates and time for the beta have yet to be revealed, but typically come one or two months before launch and can last anywhere from one to four weekends. When we know exactly when the beta is happening, we will let you know.

Read more
Best Alienware deals: Gaming PCs, laptops, and monitors
Alienware Aurora R15 placed at an angle on a table.

Dell is a company that has been around for ages, and if you want to pick up a new gaming laptop, gaming PC, headset, or even a gaming chair, Dell probably has something for you. That includes everything from the budget to the very high-end, so it all depends on what you're looking for. To that end, we've collected some of our favorite Dell and Alienware deals below across all its products, but if you still can't find what you're looking for, you can also take a look at these gaming laptop deals and gaming PC deals as well
Alienware AW920H wireless gaming headset -- $130, was $150

A gaming headset is a great way to keep in touch with your friends while you play. The Alienware AW720H gaming headset lets you do so without the burden of wires, as it connects to your gaming setup via Bluetooth. It has a built-in microphone for outgoing communications, as well as Dolby Atmos, Surround Sound, and Stereo Sound options to help immerse you in the game and incoming communications.

Read more
GTA 6: release date window, trailer, gameplay, and more
Woman at a rooftop pool party.

Believe it or not, it has been over a decade since the last GTA game. While tons of people are still dumping hundreds of hours into GTA Online, everyone has been (not so) patiently waiting for Rockstar to finally confirm that a new entry is in the works. Despite many leaks and rumors, the team held strong until late 2023. Now that the game is finally confirmed, we have a lot more solid ground to cover in terms of what Grand Theft Auto 6 will offer. This is going to be the biggest game of the generation, if not all time, so let's hotwire a car and pull off a heist to get all the information about GTA 6 there is.
GTA 6 release date

GTA 6 is set to release sometime in fall 2025, according to reports. Strauss Zelnick, CEO of Rockstar Games’ parent company Take-Two Interactive, confirmed the launch window in a May 2024 earnings call.

Read more