Rochard

Platform: PS3*/PC/Mac
Genre: Puzzle/Platformer
Players: 1
ESRB: Teen (Suggestive Themes, Mild Language, Fantasy Violence)

Rochard is a downloadable title from Recoil games on the Playstation Network. It encompasses the story of space miner John Rochard and his failing crew. About to be shut down, they finally uncover a large mineral deposit deep within an asteroid. However, their boss betrays them and they find themselves fighting for their lives.

I usually have something good to say about a game, but there’s not much here I’m very excited about. The gameplay is definitely the most redeeming part. Rochard gives players control of the portly John Rochard and his gravity gun with which the player picks up things and puts them elsewhere. The gun also has a rock blaster that can be used for combat, and gravity in general can be weakened to give jumps some extra distance.

In a world that embraced Portal, and with the freedom a small developer can usually find, one would have hoped for a much deeper puzzle experience here, but it’s pretty weak. The puzzles are all very straightforward, so not much of puzzles at all. No one is ever scratching their head unless it’s the one part in the whole game where the player has to duck, which the player never otherwise does.

However, there’s some relatively heavy combat tossed in, and the mechanics for the gun aren’t very impressive, especially when you get jumped on while trying to solve these “puzzles”. Most deaths are from being overwhelmed and a constant state of being out in the open, and so it feels pretty cheap and frustrating when you die. It’s in no way redeeming. The platforming, being the final element of the gameplay, is the only part that was done rather well. It felt a lot like Metroid, but without exploring and super linear.

Then there’s the plot and such. This part wasn’t good at all. The voice acting and writing are woeful. At one point, Rochard does a Tarzan impression while swinging around. He utters many corny little sayings reminiscent of Samuel L. Jackson’s infamous censored line that went something like “I’m sick and tired of these monkey-fighting snakes on this Monday-to-Friday plane.” Something like that. This builds to the one time he utters ‘ass’ towards the end, which was enough to push it to the Teen rating one would think they were trying to avoid with all the terrible writing early on.

The animation is equally depressing. There’s even an emotional bit that isn’t at all impressive what with John just standing there with his hands on his hips like he always does. He kind of waves them, then he screams, and then he puts them back. Not a tear-jerker.

The plot culminates to…oh wait, nothing. Skylar figures it all out, but you both disappear before she can say anything worth saying. I don’t know that it’s worth playing a sequel if that is the plan of action for Recoil.

The soundtrack is kind of cool in a few spots. The main theme starts out with a pretty awesome riff, but then fades into generic space music, so that was a missed opportunity.

Here’s the redeeming part: I like the mechanics. They’re cool. But unfortunately, they are underutilized. Ditch the combat, embrace the puzzles, and let’s see some production value. A lot of people gave the game some leeway with some of this saying “It’s a downloadable game” and “It didn’t cost much”, but why wouldn’t developers take things like the Live Arcade and PSN and use them to make really cool stuff. On the cost end, if I see a movie, I won’t buy it unless I loved it. It could be on sale for fifty cents, but if I wasn’t crazy about it, that’s fifty cents I can spend on a Hershey’s.

Bottom Line: 6/10

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