Game of the Week: Rochard

Well, with the prices of gas sky-rocketing to 4+ dollars here in recent weeks, it got me to thinking about something that I love and wish we had – space travel. You know, because honestly, if we’re dealing with a natural resource issue on Earth perhaps we can start to mine planets for their resources? – maybe even find new ones we never knew existed? – well, that’s pretty much the job description of this week’s game protagonist: John Rochard.

Rock is hard. John Rochard is HARDER!

Rochard is the first game designed by Finland based Recoil Games – and it’s a great first step into the world of console development. Rochard has all the bells and whistles of a console puzzle and action game, and while I did find some issues with the accessibility of the game, the game overall is an enjoyable and rewarding experience that you’ll remember for quite a while. Here’s hoping that that trend carries over into future Recoil Games titles. Now, onto Rochard:

What is it? How do you play? etc.

Well, you play as the leader of a space mining crew named John Rochard. Your task, if you choose to accept it, is to guide John around and help search planets in search of a mineral known as turbinium. Rochard carries around a gravity-bending gun which you can use to help solve puzzles, access areas, defeat enemies etc. depending on the tasks at hand. Now I’ve only played the demo, and while it was shorter than I expected – it was an experience that definitely kept me wanting to see more of it – so that’s a bonus I think for any game.

Here's looking at you Gravity. Do your stuff.

The art design is lovely. Warm, bright, and meaningful color schemes truly give this game a touch that makes it worth checking out. It’s got a style akin to a steampunk/sci-fi comic book and I totally live for games like that. The dialogue between characters is witty and engaging and it’s completely subtitled, which makes for a wonderful experience for deaf gamers. The game gives you a nice tutorial using text to describe the actions you need to take, which helps deaf gamers gain accessibility to playing this game. The music is fantastic too – the opening cinematic really set me up for a joyous experience, and despite some qualms that I had, the game was one I’ll definitely be picking up.

Now, let’s get on to the accessibility listing, because obviously, there were problems:

Pros:

  • Deep, interesting, and invested storyline in a gravity puzzle game.
  • Characters are truly charming and memorable. Rochard is a treat.
  • Music is fantastic. I swear the game made me feel the gritty electro-vibe.
  • The cinematics [ the few I saw via the demo ] were wonderful, and really added to the depth of gameplay as well as storyline. 
  • Puzzles are engaging and difficult enough to challenge players.
  • Fast-paced action puzzler is something gaming needed: Rochard delivers.
  • Full subtitled dialogue, as well as tutorial instructions for new actions.

I'm just sailing, sailing on an ocean of gravity... there ain't nobody else but me...

Cons:

  • On the PS3 version the joystick movement is really loose, and unfortunately, I didn’t find in the options menu where that could be changed. This game requires a lot of precision movements and placements in order to access specific areas, quick reflexes to fend off enemies, etc. and so mobility impaired gamers will severely struggle with timing and movement issues. In order to fix that, a control sensitivity setting would have been nice [ but perhaps it’s just in the demo and I’m unsure for PC or Mac versions. ]
  • Color-blind gamers may have issues with the environments. Examples include when gravity is turned off, the entire environment turns into shades of blue, etc. but most color schemes in Rochard are vibrant and distinct enough to combat that – if any color-blind gamers have any problems please let me know. I’d love to receive personal feedback from your perspective.
  • Cognitively impaired gamers will have a difficult time with this game – the puzzles are actually quite complicated once you get deeper into the physics pool that this game provides and can cause issues for some players certainly.

So, overall, it’s a great little physics based puzzle game – and despite the few hiccups in accessibility, Rochard, is definitely a must see. I’m hoping that the PC version provides a little more assistance for gamers with mobility issues, but like I said, if you can get passed that – the game is truly rewarding. It’s got a slew of levels and interactive moments and it’ll definitely be one I put on my PSN download list in the future. You can catch it on Steam, PC, Mac, and PSN right now for $ 9.99 or for $14.99 on Steam you can get the game and the soundtrack as well [ and it’s fantastic! ] Thanks Recoil Games for such an enjoyable and rewarding gaming experience – I’ll be venturing into the great unknown of space for quite some time thanks to you!

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