Luminous Meets Minimalist in Rattadash
Easy to learn, difficult to master. A tried and true formula applied in video games since inception. Ease you in gradually, only for you to discover the road to mastery is actually quite arduous. Meet Rattadash. A platformer built on precision and timing from Johannes Lugstein and Byteparrot.
Rattadash is built on the foundation of choosing your moves wisely. In order to transition from ring to ring with your mouse character, you must hold the screen until exactly the right moment. The timing of this determines when and how far you travel. Akin to the earlier premise, easy to learn, difficult to master. The entry tutorial levels will seduce you into a false sense of comfort and confidence as timing is almost a non factor to make a single or dual transition between one or two rings at the mere tap of the screen. However, very quickly the tutorial ratchets things up a notch and you discover how steep that mountain actually is. Even many of the tutorial levels in Rattadash can be quite difficult. The goal of each level is to reach the end, or to enter every ring in a particular level. You’re given a certain amount of (lives) rats in order to accomplish this. As you struggle to complete a level, those lives run out very quickly as your neon like mouse disappears into the dark abyss of death.
Goals in Rattadash are separated by two different game modes. Chill mode tasks the player with trying to enter all circles in a level while also collecting stars (if you can). Inversely, Speed mode is as the name implies. Get to the end of each level as fast as possible while also collecting clock icons spread around each level. Starting out, you won’t have access to anything other than the tutorial in the free version (there’s an option available for $0.99 cents to upgrade to gold where you automatically unlock everything to play at your own leisure, also with no ads) until you complete all levels in the prior section. As far as difficulty and content, Rattadash has a lot of variety. Level selection (after the tutorial levels) goes from easy, to medium, to hard, harder, and pro. Each having 24 stars to be collected in Chill Mode. The level design between each difficulty can vary dramatically.
The level design and presentation style in Rattadash work in concert. It’s a game predicated on verticality, and the way levels are designed reflects this. You start out transitioning vertically from left to right, going from circle to circle within the gameplay. The levels change radically in the higher difficulty tiers as circles become squares, rectangles, etc. One of my favourites, a level in the Harder tiered difficulty where the level serves as almost a pinball machine where instead of your prompts controlling your rat, you instead control the pinball like flippers. Navigation and picking your spots naturally becomes more difficult at those higher levels. Presentation wise, Rattadash features a luminous 80’s style neon over your rat character as well as all of the levels. The bright green, blue and red over dark backgrounds really allows Rattadash and the art direction to pop vividly on a smartphone screen. Graphics in Rattadash aren’t necessarily the draw, even though they certainly stand out due to the intense color palette choices. It’s comprised of two dimensional (what I’m assuming is) hand drawn sprites that feature a few different animations.
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