Plot: What’s it about?
Rochard puts you in the shoes of John Rochard, an astro-miner who finds himself in hot water after his team discovers a rich cache of minerals. As the story unfolds, you seek out answers about the minerals, your team, and why you were betrayed over the minerals. A blend of exploration, platforming, and combat, Rochard evokes memories of Super Metroid or more recently, Shadow Complex. You’ll find a lot of side paths, collectibles, puzzles, and bad guys, all waiting to be found and conquered. The physics based weapons you’re given require some practice, but can yield some impressive results. This is good since you’ll need to master them to solve the game’s numerous puzzles and obstacles. The G-Lifter allows you to latch onto distant enemies and objects, while Rock-Blaster is a traditional weapon of destruction. In order to traverse the game’s hurdles, you need to learn to use the weapons in tandem, in some rather creative ways.
The game features plenty of chances to use those weapons against bad guys, but Rochard is more about puzzles and platforming than just mowing down your foes. In addition to his weapons of choice, Rochard is able to tinker with gravity, allowing him to jump higher than normal and manipulate very dense objects. This ability opens the door to some wild situations, both in the range of puzzles thrown in your path, as well as just fun moments you’ll create on your own. After all, a potbellied miner leaping in massive strides is just awesome. The game’s pace is brisk, but is great in terms of the learning curve. You’ll breeze through early situations, but things start to ramp up at a consistent pace, so you’ll run into a challenge often as you progress. But you have all the tools you need to survive, so just stick with it and you’ll overcome.
My one complaint about Rochard is that while combat is usually fun, some areas can overrun you with enemies. Your weapons are well designed and the controls are rock solid, but the mechanics seem geared toward small skirmishes, not crowded battles and that can be a source of frustration. But even if you get run down a time or two, you can steer yourself clear if you are patient and make the most of the tools at your disposal. While the premise might be familiar, Rochard is able to stand out with a great sense of humor and some nice innovations. The game offers remarkable depth and has the kind of replay value that will have you running through the entire game multiple times. Speed runs and collectible collection will certainly be of interest to most, but even just experimenting with the mechanics can be a blast. All of this means Rochard more than deserves a high recommendation.
Video: How does it look?
This game looks great, with a memorable visual design and remarkable attention to detail. I really enjoyed the character designs, especially Rochard himself, who looks awesome. The animation is well crafted and fun to watch, thanks to a retro texture layered into slick, high resolution visuals. Not much else I can say here, Rochard just looks terrific.
Audio: How does it sound?
I don’t often like voice acting in video games, but Rochard delivers. The voice work is well cast and well performed, great work in a usually skimped over part of game design. The music is fun and doesn’t grate on your nerves, while general sound effects are great as well. All of the elements work well together to bolster the experience, which is the true sign of a competent, effective sound design.
Supplements: What are the extras?