July 20, 2015 11:19 PM | Sean Flint
Cryptozoology is a mysterious subject that is of great interest to many people. Personally, I find it intriguing to think that there are creatures out there that we haven't discovered, and that possess strange characteristics. I'll confess, I've been known to watch crazy people hunt Bigfoot, and others scream at ghosts to try and get a response. For this reason, I was very interested in having a look at Rake, which throws you into the shoes of a scientist who explores the wilderness in search for a mysterious creature.
Rake popped up on Steam on July 13th, and it has taken me an entire week of consideration to finally decide to purchase a copy of the game. Upon first coming across it, I was immediately drawn in by the concept of being able to hunt mysterious creatures, but I was admittedly a bit turned off by the low-quality graphics, which is not something that I usually find myself experiencing. I'm not much for graphics, but something about Rake's visual aesthetic just didn't catch my fancy, and I found the screenshots of the game difficult to enjoy.
After moving past my distaste for the visuals, I read a bit more into the simple lore behind the game, and finally decided that it was worth taking a look at. Rake's story is based on a Creepypasta of the same name, and follows a fictional account of a strange humanoid creature stalking the wilderness of the northeastern United States. Conveniently, any and all online and written accounts of the creature have been wiped out, leaving absolutely no information to go on. Gordon Davis, the scientist you take control of, has decided to enter the wilderness and set up a camp in an attempt to discover the mystery behind Rake.
I wasn't really sure what to expect from the gameplay, as there really isn't too much to go on when you read the description on Steam. However, I knew that there would be some camera monitoring, and I also knew that you had a weapon. Loading up Rake for the first time left me a bit confused, as there isn't much of a tutorial, but I was quickly able to learn the mechanics of the game and get started. My first morning was spent setting up my cameras across the map. One thing I disliked was that I could only set the cameras in certain areas, and I could only have 5 going at once. However, there are many more than 5 locations to set your cameras, so there is a nice variety to keep the game from getting stale.
After setting cameras and exploring for a bit during the day, I decided to fast-forward it to night and being monitoring my cameras. Almost immediately I was greeted by the hulking humanoid form of Rake, as it dashed quickly through my camera's view. I was startled by such a quick and unexpected sighting, but the next few minutes of the night were quiet. I saw many deer and boars, but no sign of this mysterious creature. All of a sudden, I notice the red flashing on the camera interface; there is movement on camera 2. As I take control of the camera, I am greeted by the creature's hideous face and a loud screech as it destroys my camera.
Being the vengeful person that I am, I wasn't having any of that. I grabbed my rifle and headed out for some exploration to try and re-set the camera, and put a few rifle rounds into the creature that broke it in the first place. Here's another gripe that I have with Rake: when a camera is broken, it no longer shows up on the map. This means that you will have to remember where you put your cameras, and then use a process of elimination to determine which one was damaged. However, eventually I was able to make my way to the damaged camera and replace it, but there was no sight of the creature.
I decided that the best course of action would be to return to camp and monitor the remaining cameras in an attempt to pinpoint the creature's location. As I neared camp, I heard footsteps in the bushes to my left. I turned and fired off a few rounds, only to see a poor deer collapse from my hasty trigger finger. Depressed, I returned to camp and began monitoring the feed once again. After a moment or two, I caught sight of the creature, and took off in the direction of the camera to try and have a face-to-face encounter with it. I came upon it in a small clearing in the woods, and fired off a few rounds in its direction, hitting the creature at least once. However, it ran up on me, knocked me over, and did some decent health damage. I decided it was time to return to camp and wait it out for the night, hoping to do some exploring in the morning to discover some more powerful weaponry.
To be honest, this is where the game begins to get a bit repetitive. I spent the day exploring and setting up cameras. I spent the night monitoring said cameras, shooting the beast a few times, and getting knocked down. Rinse and repeat. The creature is extremely difficult to put down, meaning it will take several encounters with it before you will be able to finish it off, and you will often find yourself dead. In addition to this flaw, I have a huge feature that I would love to see added to Rake. I would really enjoy it if there were more than one monster, and each session would randomly choose a monster for you to face, much like Monstrum. I feel that this would add a terrifying sense of uncertainty to the game, and would make it much more replayable.
In its current state, Rake is a good bit of fun for an hour or two, but quickly becomes stale. There have been some updates to the game already, improving AI, graphics, and optimization, so I'm hoping to see some content updates if the game continues to do well. For some, the $5 price tag cannot be justified for only a few hours of fun, but I think that it's well worth a few bucks if this is the type of game you'd see yourself enjoying. It's not amazing in any area, but all of the elements of the game combine to form a cohesive and quite fun experience. The best part of Rake is the story that you create. Are you the brave explorer, or the cowardly scientist who hides in his camper all night? Do you want to kill the creature, or trap it and study it? These questions make for at least a few different playthroughs where you can take different approaches to beating the game, and that alone makes it worth the asking price, in my opinion.
If you're interested in having a closer look at Rake, it is currently available on Steam for $4.99.