I remember when Rochard (pronounced Ro-chard) released several months ago on the PSN and after playing it for a bit found the action-puzzle-adventure game to be quite enjoyable at the time. What I didnít know was that I would fall in love with it again, a few months later, when it released on the PC via Steam. Rochard is a fast paced physics based sidescroller that will blow your mind as you play as the titular hero and astro-miner John Rochard. John is a down-on-his-luck miner with a crew that hasnít been able to strike it big on space ore in over four year for the huge company Skyrig. On the verge of loosing his job with machinery malfunctions around every turn, Rochard makes the find that that will make all the troubles seem worth it. When his boss Maximillian comes to view his discovery things go from bad to worse as his crew disappears and thugs arrive to take Rochard out.
Itís up to you to get to the bottom of things and save your friend, Skyler. Rochard will need every trick an old astro-miner with attitude has and a few weapons to help him defeat thugs, turrets and drones along the way. Armed with his trusty everyday G-Lifter, Rochard can grab, lift and throw objects as well as enemies. The G-Lifter gets upgrades as you go along whenever they throw a new puzzle element into play, such as the several types of grenades and the ability to pull turrets off their stations.
There is also the Rock Blaster which serves as Rochardís most direct way to defend himself. The equivalent of a machine gun, the Rock Blaster works great during heated fights and tight pinches. The only drawback is that it overheats and is unusable for a short while.
As fun as using the Rock Blaster is, the G-Lifter is far better for taking out enemies and is the main device used for getting through the levels. At first you will be stacking up boxes just to reach higher locations, but soon you will have to initiate low gravity and use boxes to shoot your self higher to reach out of reach areas. One of my favorite abilities is called G-Swinging where you use low gravity and your lifter to swing off stationary boxes. If you do it long enough Rochard will even let out a Tarzan yell.
As my PC reviews usually start, I play the game with my keyboard and mouse first and then a controller if supported. The good news is that Rochard supports both and they both work well. The default keyboard and mouse setting has a definite advantage though. Nearly all the weapon controls are assigned to the mouse allowing for quick and precise actions while still moving and interacting with the WASD cluster. The controller option was a little hard to get used to and my biggest issue is the toggle between the G-Lifter and the Rock Blaster. The mouse alternative has dedicated buttons for each. The mouse can also be moved in a circle motion when G ĖSwinging for maximum effect and is a lot easier than doing it with the WASD cluster.
The levels progressively get tougher with added puzzle elements such as lasers and object and energy barriers that stop or allow certain elements to pass through them. There are no difficulty settings in Rochard, but that doesnít mean that you wonít get frustrated from a few cheap deaths from environmental hazards or random enemy fire. Most of the time I died from getting in too much of a hurry or going after one of the many cleverly hidden trophy collectibles thoughout each level.
The level designs are a very important part of the puzzles but they also function as the set pieces for this space adventure. You will find yourself moving through tunneled-out asteroids and using everything from the mining equipment to platforms and even vents to get around most of the time. The Skyrig HQ features a very Death Star faÁade and a very cold and mechanical look to the levels. One of the things that I liked best about Rochard is the use of lighting and effects such as the use of the flashlight and dust filters seen periodically though out. The level of detail, even from a cel-shaded game such as this, is admirable.
Even the character models of John, Skyler and Maximillian are quite good, and they totally feel right at home in their world. The voice actors that play these three are pretty good and there is plenty of funny dialogue between John and BÖI mean Skyler. The sound effects are great and the music is awesome. The theme song that plays at the very beginning done by Finnish group Poets of the Fall is awesome and fits the mood of the game perfectly.
When it comes right down to it Rochard is a fully enjoyable action game with plenty of puzzles to work through. While not overly challenging, though some took me a few second to figure out just what to do, I can tell you I missed the three hour speed run achievement by several hours, but considering all the hidden health and weapons upgrades as well as trophies thatís one achievement that will have to come later. You can also go back and play each of the chapters individually to find any collectibles you missed. Rochard is a great adventure-puzzle game that needs to be played, and I hope that we see more of John and Skyler in the future.