Itβs nice to get an early Christmas present, and if you are a fan of platform games then this has to be a very welcome gift. Rochard (Rock hard) is a classic platform game with all the trimmings and a few little treats thrown in.
Rochard is the foreman of an astro mining team working for Skyrig. Times are tough, though, with the team failing to discover any ore of note for some time. With the threat of dole queue hanging over their head, the team makes one last attempt at hitting the mother lode. What they strike is not what they expected, however, and certainly the attention it causes is unwanted. The storyline borrows a lot from some science fiction classics, but it serves the game well by giving a sense of purpose for Rochard's convoluted journey through the five huge chapters of the game.
Like all standard platform platform games, you need a hero, and Rochard is more of a man then most. He has overalls and a jaunty hat, but the beer gut sets him apart from the run of the mill cutesy heroes.
Armed with a G-Lifter β a mining tool that is used to attract and lift objects β you are challenged to take him through corridors, hangers and machine rooms of the mining station. The lifter is used to pick up crates to create steps, or power modules. Objects can be placed or thrown. Thrown crates become a weapon or alternatively they can be used as a shield against enemy fire.
Enemies are the least of your challenges, as the environment presents a much bigger obstacle. First there are the force fields: some only allow living creatures through and stop crates and other objects. Others stop the living and allow objects. Some block laser fire while one blocks everything. The force fields can be presented as walls while others as bridges. The trick is to turn these on and off as required.
Gravity is a real problem. Certain objects are to heavy to pick up under normal gravity while higher platforms cannot be reached under these constraints as well. Luckily, though, early in the game you take control of the gravity generator. This allows you to lower the gravity so you can now throw stuff further and jump higher when required. Just to add spice, though, certain areas have a reversed center of gravity.
Throw into this mix the standard platform moving platforms, elevators, crushers and traps, and you have quite a challenging game. Some of the puzzles take a while to work out while others can fiendishly difficult. Some involve timing, while others are more about using the right combination of objects to get to the next area. What we did like is how the game has been carefully measured in how the difficulty is slowly increased the more you progress. Early puzzles are quite straightforward and introduce the basic game game mechanics, while later on you are introduced to the physics of readjusting lasers, using your own to cut new doorways.
There are enemies, of course, and without giving too much away, the Space Pirates are of the archetypal heavily-armed brainless variety. You have to watch out as in some areas you need to double back to complete a puzzle and you will often find that they have repopulated the areas you previously cleared. Luckily they are generally easily dispatched with a crate or taken out with a few well placed laser shots.
The graphics are cartoon-like and are sharp and well crafted. The environments especially are done well, with some good lighting effects. Throughout the game you are treated to the vocal humour and sarcasm that is Rochard. He very much reminded us of a typical miner. No matter what the adversity, he tightens his belt and carries on.
We liked this game a lot. It is not going to break any new ground in the genre but it is a very well designed game that is challenging and rewarding to play. Well worth getting from Steam and great value at less than $10.