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Rauniot (PC)

Rauniot (PC) - Review

by Thomas Froehlicher , posted 5 days ago / 1,103 Views

The first Finnish game I've come across in my life, Rauniot caught my eye for its appealing mix of point 'n click genre, post-apocalyptic setting, and scary accents. Everything I fancy for late at night... and the nights turned very long indeed.

As much as the developer insisted on bizarre and eerie elements in Rauniot's pre-release trailers, Act Normal Games' production actually feels a bit... ordinary. The story is almost non-existent; you play as Aino, a woman sent by her organization to find someone who has gone missing. But from the moment you park your car to when you find the missing man (which almost marks the end of the game), little in the way of narrative is actually told. Rauniot, then, is 99.9% focused on puzzle-solving, while I was expecting much more in terms of story thrills.

Even the conclusion left me feeling in the dark. It's certainly moving, and I appreciated that, but it's really vague about what happened to who and the characters' backgrounds and motivations. The theme of nuclear danger is hinted at several times, and you do manipulate what appear to be nuclear programs, but you don't really know the repercussions of this.

While Rauniot ought to have elaborated more on its lore, that doesn't mean it doesn't have a great atmosphere. The depiction of the Finnish countryside after disaster has struck is impressive indeed. The desolate land gives rise to very anxious feelings, and the scene design creates a deep impression of loneliness and unease that I found to be very remarkable. These feelings are shared by the very few survivors living in the vicinity.  

You have to negotiate with these people in order to acquire information and tools, but they act very cold and clearly don't completely trust you. The mood turns to anguish in some scenes, like when you view the children's drawings, which is definitely the most bizarre and scary part of the game. Rauniot takes place in the 80s, so it includes a historically interesting Cold War era charm thanks to its bleak facilities and old technology. In terms of atmosphere then, I can say I was satisfied, and I'd recommend the title on this aspect alone.

The gameplay can also be great, but I reckon it to be severely hindered by a few drawbacks. First, the system should really highlight key items, because players are bound to be stuck when they can't locate certain tiny objects they need to progress. When you move the pointer on a key item, a little sound pops to draw your attention, but some objects are literally a few pixels large and look exactly like something drawn in the background. I found myself wandering around for nearly two hours because of this. Rauniot is roughly 10-15 hours long, but looking for almost-invisible objects isn't how I'd want to spend any of that time.

I played the game on Steam Deck, but can safely advise readers to opt for a traditional PC when playing the game. Steam Deck buttons aren't supported, instead you move the pointer with the right pad and click with R2, which proves woefully imprecise.

Puzzles are the heart of the game experience and they're fairly challenging, probably enough so to keep the best minds entertained. It's worth noting that Rauniot never gives you the slightest hint, even about what your current objective is - you have to look for where and how to move forward all by yourself. That may sound and even seem frustrating, but I appreciated having to find out every little thing without any guidance. 

The interesting part is that you have to associate different clues that are distant from each other in both space and time. For example, every computer or electricity-related problem is impacted by several devices and information scattered throughout the whole map. The logic is often very obscure and it takes a lot of careful observation and brainstorming to see through it. Strange codes, panels with countless switches, malfunctioning buttons... in many cases you have to "think outside of the box" in order to be victorious. It all makes the puzzle-solving feel especially rewarding.

Although Rauniot is shy on its lore and narrative, it still excels at captivating the player with an eerie, haunting world and incredibly tough riddles. It may also only be a few hours long, but those are hours of intense thinking and a deep sense of reward. Rauniot could never be described as user-friendly, but you'll want more anyway if you're thirsty for mysteries.


After graduating from a French business school, Thomas felt an irresistible force drawing him to study Japanese, which eventually led him to Japanese Profeciency Test level 1 in 2012. During the day, Thomas is a normal account manager. But at night he becomes Ryuzaki57, an extreme otaku gamer hungry for Japanese games (preferably with pretty girls in the main role). His knowledge now allows him to import games at Japanese release for unthinkable prices, and then tell everyone about them. Feel free to contact on twitter at @Ryuz4ki57


VGChartz Verdict


7.5
Good

This review is based on a digital copy of Rauniot for the PC

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1 Comments
coolbeans (5 days ago)

"The first Finnish game I've come across in my life, Rauniot caught my eye..."

The next Finnish games to put on your game platter:

-Alan Wake Remastered
-Alan Wake's American Nightmare
-Quantum Break
-Control Ultimate Edition
-Alan Wake II (perhaps wait until the inevitable Complete Edition)

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