Rochard , introduced back in September 2011 on console and subsequently released for the PC via Steam and the Mac App store, tells the story of asteroid miner John Rochard. While mining asteroids for minerals out in deep space, John Rochard and his fellow crewmates find themselves caught up in conspiracy and nefarious back stabbing. It is up to you to take control of John Rochard and save the day! Admittedly a simple, somewhat ho-hum story but it has JUST enough to keep you playing while not detracting from the gameplay. Speaking of the gameplay, Rochard features excellent gameplay that presents the player with a solid 2d platform puzzler experience with a style that should be familiar to anyone who has played Team Fortress 2. Rochard’s style has a cartoonish charm and a wicked sense of humor throughout.
Rochard gameplay mechanics are pretty cool: In the beginning, John Rochard is equipped with a basic G-Lifter, a rifle-like device that alters gravity. Limited at first to moving and manipulating small objects and boxes, but as the game progresses can be upgraded to manipulate larger items, grapple and swing through the enviornment like Tarzan, launch yourself over large chasms like a rocket, and affect the gravity in the entire room. Gravity-based puzzles dominate the gameplay and at first are fairly simple to solve but can get quite difficult in the latter stages of the game. Eventually, the enormously important G-Lifter can also be outifitted with the Rock Blaster laser and a Grenade launcher for enemy combat.
Combat in Rochard consists of a basic melee attack in case enemies “get all up in your face” or using your G-Lifter to throw objects at the enemy, altering gravity to send ememies off to their demise, manipulating objects to blow up or burn the enemy, using the Rock Blaster to shoot the enemy, or blowing them up with bouncing or sticky grenades. Combat, while simplistic in nature, is quite important as it is frequently part of the puzzles you need to solve. Recoil Games did a fantastic job of incorporating much of the combat in Rochard directly into the puzzles you need to solve to progress through the game. A typical puzzle early on involves picking up boxes in your way with the G-Lifter and chucking them at the enemy to get both the box and enemy out of your way. Later on, force fields that block the player, enemies, solid objects, energy (your laser, the G-Lifter, etc…), or some combination thereof present more difficult challanges. Enemies get progressively tougher and more numerous as you progress through the game with the addition of automatic gun turrets, flying attack droids, force field-equipped soldiers, and more sometimes to the point of being overwhelming but never to the point of massive computer-heaving frustration. What’s a platformer/puzzler without a challenge?
Like most platform games, Rochard is quite linear with little in the way of path choice and is generally more enjoyable if played in spurts rather than an all night gaming marathon. Collectables are strewn throught the game and are often quite difficult to figure out how to get but in the end, Rochard doesn’t have much in the way of replay value.
Keyboard and mouse control are precise and quite accurate but Rochard on the PC is also capable of Xbox360 controller control for reformed console jockeys.
Rochard graphics are quite charming with their cartoonish style. Energy animation effects like the G-Lifter’s gravity beam, lasers, and force fields are impressive looking overall. Explosions, while not too frequent are nice enough. Character animations are fluid if not a bit simple but not off the mark for a 2d platformer. In-game camera angles change frequently from the straight on classic side-scroller to various close-ups, wide-views, and off angles to keep things interesting and fresh and focal blurring effects add a nice, more realistic touch. Cut scenes are somewhat sparse but the ones that are present are rendered effectively enough if not a bit rigid with the game’s Unity Engine.
Lighting in Rochard using the Unity Engine is nice overall if not a bit colorful – in keeping with the cartoonish style I guess. Certain areas take advantage of volumetric lighting, showcasing cool dust effects. Facility lights, lit computer screens, flashing strobes, lasers, energy beams, and force fields all look nice and bright without slowing the gameplay down.
Overall the graphics in Rochard while nothing bleeding edge are effective enough to render the game’s cartoon style without any problems to report.
The voice work in Rochard is quite excellent with some uber-talented voice actors, namely the legendary Jon St. John the voice of Duke Nukem putting in a good turn as John Rochard. Accents are done nicely – cartoonish and a bit exaggerated to fit in with the game’s style without sounding absurdly insulting. Enemies in the game sound funny when they taunt you and whistle and even hum the Star Wars Imperial March while patrolling around waiting for you.
Music in the game was composed by Markus “Captain” Kaarlonen from Poets of the Fall and combines southern rock and blues with 80′s style electronic music. The music in Rochard felt a bit sparse to me but what little there was seemed to compliment the overall feel of the game.
Here’s your chance to tell us what YOU thought about Rochard! Please feel free to rate this game on each of the criteria given.
DEVELOPER(S): Recoil Games
PLATFORM(S): PC, Mac
GENRE(S): Platformer, puzzle, sci-fi
RELEASE DATE(S): 11/15/11
Rochard is a good platforming and puzzle solving game on the PC with a funny, charming cartoon style and excellent voice work. A mediocre story and difficult puzzles later on mean Rochard is best enjoyed in small gaming spurts. Click here for more Rochard screenshots.