Rochard

A fun puzzle platformer, even if it doesn’t hit all the right notes.

By azn_pride, Posted 12 Oct 2011

Sci-fi seems to be the thing for most video games lately. Some of them--that you might be familiar with--feature a fully-realized, grim world filled with a multitude of races, social dilemmas, technological advancement, space marines, and mysterious, god-like beings, among other things. We need more sci-fi-based games that don’t take themselves too seriously. Luckily, a little title called Rochard came along to break the trend.

Rochard, Review
Shooting blocks at enemies is the most effective strategy.

You play as the titular character, John Rochard, a Skyrig asteroid miner who’s had bad luck lately. It’s been years since Rochard and his mining team have hit the jackpot, and they’re on the verge of getting their operation shut down because of their failures. However, John and his team stumble upon a mysterious alien artifact that might just save their jobs. It doesn’t take long for space pirates to attack their mining facility and take the artifact for themselves. Rochard takes action as he tries to rescue his team and uncover the mystery behind the artifact and why the pirates are after it in the first place.

At its core, Rochard is a puzzle platformer, with some light gunplay action thrown in the mix. You can make the subtle comparisons to Dead Space and Portal, minus the third/first-person perspective, Necromorphs and the ability to make portals in favor of a 2D environment. Rochard possesses a physics device called the ‘G-Lifter,’ enabling him to pick up objects in the environment such as blocks and exploding barrels. These objects are usually used to create stairways for those tall platforms, though they have other purposes. Rochard also has the ability to manipulate the gravity around him, in which he can jump higher to reach seemingly unreachable places. You’ll also be able to enhance your G-Lifter and other weapons, as well as earn new skills by collecting upgrades scattered throughout the environment.

Rochard, Review

Rochard gains a weapon called the Rock Blaster later on, giving him the chance to shoot back at enemies and help even the odds a bit. You’ll also find bombs throughout the game to open obscured pathways or decimate squads of enemies in a flash. Still, the gunplay is not the game’s bread and butter. It’s worth mentioning that Rochard is kind of fragile, in a sense that it doesn’t take long for enemies to take him down. I found that throwing objects at enemies is a more effective strategy than letting enemies absorb multiple bullets, and the game encourages you to be tactical with every combat scenario you encounter. In other words, you’ll have an especially frustrating time if you assume a don’t-stop-for-nothing approach.

It seems like a tall order at first, but you immediately get the hang of Rochard’s physics-based mechanics. The game controls well, so there’s not much of a problem dealing with stacking blocks together or worry about missing your jumps during low gravity sequences. Apart from the combat, there are some parts of the game where you have to solve puzzles to get to the other side of each room. Some of Rochard’s harder puzzle sequences add some force field elements, topsy-turvy levels, and one-hit kill lasers that bring some challenge to the table, but the game’s brainteasers are short and easy to manage overall.

For the most part, Rochard is a great looking game. There’s a cartoonish design to the game’s characters that are somewhat reminiscent of Team Fortress 2. Character movements are fairly fluid, and various effects such as explosions and laser fire look appropriate for the game’s visual style. Level designs are impressive, and they’ve done a fine job adding some additional effects to the environment to give each room some life. The only problem I had is that they could’ve used more variety in the level design. It didn’t exactly feel like I was in a different place every level (though the Casino level was the most appealing level in the game), and there should have been at least some noticeable aesthetic changes to the environment to garner that effect.

Rochard, Review

What’s more is that there’s hardly any music in Rochard. Other than Rochard’s intro song (which is really nice, by the way), I found myself traversing each room without even a tinge of ambience or appropriate music for the particular level, and it’s only available within the most intense parts of the game. As a result, playing the game can sometimes feel dull and unfortunately deviates from its otherwise enjoyable moments. Rochard has an interesting premise, though mediocre voice acting doesn’t exactly make its characters that memorable. Even the character Rochard’s voice actor, Jon St. John (of Duke Nukem fame) doesn’t completely deliver in his performance. I also get Recoil’s cheery, somewhat campy approach to the game, but I didn’t find the jokes to be all that funny.

I can’t help but feel like this game could’ve benefited more if it had more variety in the gameplay, music, and level design. Perhaps a longer length, more puzzle sequences, and even co-op or challenge rooms could’ve made the game’s physics-based gameplay shine a little bit more, but it’s hard to condemn Rochard’s shortcomings for its good $9.99 price point (€10 if you live in Europe). Despite all that, Rochard is still an entertaining, light-hearted puzzle platformer that’s worth a try.

David Gabriel, NoobFeed.

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General Information

Rochard

75/100

Platform(s): PS3, PC
Publisher(s): Sony Online Entertainment
Developer(s): Recoil Games
Genres: Puzzle
Themes: Platformer, Adventure
Release Date: 2011-09-27

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