Rochard is a sidescrolling platformer with a depth that makes it look like a 3-dimensional affair. You play as John Rochard, a space miner for the company Skyrig whose day just keeps getting worse. You weild a gun with the ability to pick up and launch small objects. In time, you find a Rock Crusher that shoots bullets and three different grenade types that use what is called ‘explosium’ as ammunition. You also unlock the ablity to reduce gravity by holding down L1. While gravity is reduced, Rochard can jump higher, pick up bigger objects, and launch items farther than usual. Rounding out the cast are Skylar, John’s coworker, and Maximillion, John’s boss and the game’s antagonist. Together they knit a decent story.
The game takes place on a few different asteroids, but besides for Skylar’s uncle’s casino, they all look similar enough. You start most areas by finding the gravity control to enable your L1 ability. From that point on you’re tackling puzzles, turrets, and guards in order to get to point B. For the most part, the game’s puzzles require you to navigate your way through different types of force fields. The blue force field, for example, blocks items from passing through it while the red field blocks bio-material (Rochard or guards, for example). A common maneuver is getting around a red force field then pulling items from one side of it to the other. These types of puzzles get more intricate later on, but they never reach the point where they’re more frustrating than difficult. Other items such as fuses and your different grenade types have to be cleverly used later on in the game. Save for a select few, I didn’t find these puzzles to be challenging to say truth. There’s one that involves four criss-crossing lasers in one room that had me scratching my head for a bit, but that was the toughest one by far.
The music in Rochard is excellent. There’s a variety of Southern-style guitar pluckings that serenade your sojourn through space. I wasn’t aware that Poets of the Fall was even a thing, but I sure am now. The voice acting is good, but I found Rochard’s voice actor to be a bit too much. I’m all about the deep south, including the accents, but some of Rochard’s lines had me shaking my head. “It’s all connected” is a line that’s repeated a bunch of times throughout the game. It tries hard to make connections between wacky plot points, but the betrayal story gets muddled into some ancient Native American temple quest reminiscent of that stupid alien show on the History channel. I’m fine with the paper-thin story mainly because of how fun Rochard is to play.
First of all, Rochard is funny. When you die, there’s a message that reads, “Skyrig appreciates your hard work. Next of kin notified.” The physics-based platforming and puzzling are flat-out fun to mess around with. Discovering how to manipulate gravity to get through tough places is a ball. Jumping around in low gravity is a floaty affair, something I normally hate in platformers. I never thought I’d say this, but I actually enjoy the floaty platforming in Rochard. Recoil jumping (jumping in the air with a box, then launching the box downward, propelling you upward) is a blast. Once you start using it, it’ll be hard to stop.
There are hidden ‘trophy collectibles’ stowed away in hard-to-reach spots. Some of them are tough to get to, but progressing in the main campaign is easy for the most part. That’s not to say you won’t die a few times here and there, but the learning curve is so gradual that you should be well-equipped (skillwise and weaponwise) to deal with whatever situation arises. The game makes sure to provide you with everything you need to complete the puzzles at hand. There are upgrade booths and parts practically placed in your path as you make your way forward. You can upgrade your maximum health, the G-Lifter, the Rock Crusher, and refill your explosium. There’s no pressure to conserve boxes or grenade munitions or anything. I’m not sure how I feel about that. On one hand it keeps the focus on playing the game as opposed to playing the meta-game. On the other, the game is a breeze.
Rochard is linear, relatively short, and not particularly difficult. Even with some idling I beat the game comfortably in five hours. Your G-Lifter is so powerful by the time you reach the final boss that the whole ordeal is pretty much a joke. Those are the worst things I can say about Rochard. It’s a damned fun game from start to finish, I just wish there was more. There are gameplay sections where you have to reverse gravity and run upside down, completing puzzles with a flipped perspective. I enjoyed these sections the most, finding them not confusing in the least, but instead fun and interesting. During one of these sections, when you reverse gravity, a handful of boxes fly up the screen both in the background and the foreground. This is an example of the detail Recoil Games put into Rochard overall. They’ve crafted a hell of a downloadable game, and I look forward to seeing more of John Rochard, space miner.
A copy of this game was provided by the publisher for review purposes. For more info on our review policy click here. This review is for the PlayStation 3 version of the game.
What I Like:
- G-Lifter + Gravity Control = Fun
- The music is excellent
- Good sense of humor
What I Dislike:
- Short-lived experience; I want more
- Easy mode engaged