Recently, Sony has been putting a lot of money into exclusive games for the PSN, and Rochard is one of the results of that push. There hasn’t been a lot of press for Rochard and that is really a shame because this is an excellent game. In Rochard, you play as John Rochard, a space miner assigned to an asteroid somewhere in deep space. Mining operations
have been going on there for a while, but those in charge haven’t been finding what they have been looking for. On the verge of being laid off due to the lack of new discoveries, the crew stumbles upon a cache of new ore. However, there is a lot more to this asteroid than just ore.
Rochard is a 2D side-scrolling platformer with some puzzle-solving elements. If you look at games like Super Metroid or Castlevania, then this game has similar concepts and gameplay and would compare well to them. What makes this game particularly interesting is the ability to manipulate gravity. John can switch the physics of the world from normal-gravity to low-gravity with the push of a button. You can switch between these modes quickly and easily without limitation. This allows John to jump higher and lift heavy objects that he wouldn’t be able to lift under normal circumstances. This ability is used extensively as a part of the game’s puzzle-solving elements, so you’ll find yourself in low-gravity quite a bit. This will also give you a number of ways to dispose of enemies, such as picking up a heavy object and tossing it towards a bad guy – while the object is in flight, switch to normal gravity and the resulting added weight will deal extra damage.
Speaking of puzzle-solving, Rochard contains a good amount of it throughout the game and the puzzles themselves are interesting, so they never get in the way of what makes this game excellent. Most puzzles include the use of force fields that only allow certain things to pass. Blue barriers allow people to pass through but block metal objects, red barriers block out humans but allow metal objects to pass, and orange barriers block out energy but allow people and metal to pass. When solving puzzles you will encounter these barriers quite a bit, and it gives the game a Portal feel because of the way in which you have to solve these puzzles. This system works well and gives players a good challenge while remaining simple enough for beginners.
In addition to the puzzle-solving elements, the characters in Rochard are excellent. All of them are perfectly voice-acted, so you’ll feel a connection to John and Skyler right away. John himself is just an average guy and most people will be able to relate to him. He doesn’t have super powers or any superhuman attributes yet he is able to accomplish his goals just the same. John is also endearing and, at times, funny. This combination of human limitation and just having a personality make John someone you’ll remember after you finish the game. In addition to his personality, his interactions with Skyler are interesting and add depth to the story beyond the constraints of the main storyline. We aren’t talking a Prince of Persia: Sands of Time level of character depth, but there is a surprising amount here and it’s worth pointing out. Whether Skyler is voicing concern about the dangers of the mission or John is taking charge and
getting his people out of danger, these pieces of dialog humanize these fictional characters and add to the appeal of the game.
Technically speaking, Rochard isn’t the most visually exciting game so don’t expect to be blown away, but the graphics are clean and vibrant. It has a cartoon-like appearance that works great for Rochard. The soundtrack is vibrant and I especially enjoyed the title track. Unfortunately, the controls are stiff, making combat situations difficult to deal with. John moves slowly, so if you run into a fire fight you will take heavy damage. Personally, we feel that the puzzle-solving is much stronger than the combat, so we would have enjoyed the game more if it focused more on the puzzles. This criticism should not be seen as a reason not to buy the game, since it does not detract from what makes this game good.
Overall, Rochard is an excellent game and is worth your time. The characters and voice acting are excellent, the puzzle-solving is fun, and the story is engaging. We highly recommend this game to everyone interested in puzzle platformers, and to further entice gamers, Rochard is only $10.00 on the PSN. For that price, you can’t go wrong.
This review is based off a review copy of Rochard played on the Playstation 3 provided by Sony Online Entertainment
- Excellent Voice Acting
- Great Puzzle Solving
- Engaging Story
- Stiff Controls
- Sub-Par Combat