This graffiti-filled, anime-inspired 3D platformer oozes personality with its mix of Japanese pop culture inspirations

RKGK screenshot
(Image credit: Wabisabi Games)

The anime-inspired visual aesthetics and punk graffiti vibes of RKGK hooked me from the moment it was announced. I'm admittedly a sucker for  solid art direction, and the upcoming game from Mexico-based developer Wabisabi Games absolutely has that in spades. But actually playing it – and hearing from the developers – is what's convinced me that there's actually something special here.

RKGK (pronounced rakugaki, which is a Japanese word that is often associated with sketches and more informally graffiti) sees players take on the role of Valah, a graffiti artist and leader of the eponymous group of rebels fighting against the evil, oppressive business B-Corp run by Mr. Buff. You see, B-Corp has been sucking out all the expression and general zest for life from the populace through giant screens – screens that Valah and her crew can vandalize with graffiti in order to stop what they call "Draining."

Rebel and resist

But why call the game RKGK? According to Anwar Noriega, Wabisabi Games’ CEO and co-founder, the short version is that the game is effectively a love letter to Japanese pop culture and the way in which the term rakugaki became associated with graffiti in the first place resonated with the team as a concept.

"In the early '90s, when graffiti started to pop in Japan, the government and the police started calling the graffiti rakugaki," says Noriega, "kind of with a negative connotation, like saying, 'Oh, these childish doodles; we don't care about them, they are terrible.' And the graffiti people in Japan, instead of becoming angry about that, they actually wore it as a flag."

"They started using the more artistic side of doodling, the creative freedom that a kid has when they are doodling," continues Noriega. "Not the oppression that the world has on them when they are kids. And they became very proud [...] that they were doing rakugaki."

As a love letter, some of RKGK's influences could not be clearer. The game wears them on its sleeves, sometimes quite literally. The gear that you can buy and equip takes its cues from Japanese fashion and media, and so do the potential graffiti pieces that you can unlock to spray all over screens. One fairly obvious throughline for the whole experience is Jet Set Radio, for example, but classic 3D platformers in general are a huge touchstone. And there's more than a little Neon Genesis Evangelion in the mix.

Paint surfin'

RKGK screenshot

(Image credit: Wabisabi Games)

Mechanically, RKGK is all about speedy platforming, zooming through various zones and grinding rails through the use of spray paint (don't ask me how this functions) while covering Draining screens in graffiti in order to bring vibrant color back to the world. Gathering enough momentum while attacking enemies and defacing big screens can trigger the aptly named Defacer Mode, which cranks the colors and Valah's abilities up even further.

"Defacer Mode is a state that Valah acquires that grants a different set of abilities," says Noriega. "For example, now Valah can surf way faster, and not only that, when she surfs, she has this forcefield in front of her that allows to destroy enemies and boxes just by touching them. So, these give you a huge boost in performance of how you play the levels."

Playing the three demo levels available to me made it clear that there's going to be plenty here for speedrunners to pick apart. Even with just a taste of what RKGK has going for it, it was immediately obvious that there would be all sorts of ways to path, jump, and spray my way through the levels.

Though I felt like I had been pretty thorough in my explorations, the rundown after a mission's end inevitably informed me that I had actually missed a collectible or two and not defeated quite enough enemies to complete certain challenges. While I've only played a small slice of what RKGK will ultimately look like at launch, it does feel promising that the possibility of returning to those levels again is exciting rather than something I'm dreading.

RKGK is set to release for PC via Steam on May 22. If you can't wait, you could always check out one of what we consider to be the best anime games.

Rollin Bishop
US Managing Editor

Rollin is the US Managing Editor at GamesRadar+. With over 16 years of online journalism experience, Rollin has helped provide coverage of gaming and entertainment for brands like IGN, Inverse,, and more. While he has approximate knowledge of many things, his work often has a focus on RPGs and animation in addition to franchises like Pokemon and Dragon Age. In his spare time, Rollin likes to import Valkyria Chronicles merch and watch anime.