It’s kind of nice to play as an amicable dumb guy every once
in a while. The Master Chiefs and Marcus Phoenixes are fine and dandy, but stepping
into jiggly John Rochard’s unfashionable boots is something of a nice surprise.
Everything from his southern drawl to his by-the-book mentality just screams
“normal, ugly, and dumb” louder than our ex-girlfriends ever could. Which is
why he’s the kind of character only an indie studio would dare create. But the
protagonist is just a small taste of the many quirks of Rochard.
Rochard is a colorful puzzle platformer that utilizes a
somewhat stale premise - a group of unwitting and underperforming asteroid
miners uncover one of the universe’s biggest mysteries. It’s a tale overflowing
with betrayal and space puns, and while the deck is stacked against him, John
Rochard has a secret weapon - the G-Lifter, which bears a striking resemblance
to Half-Life 2’s gravity gun.
The G-Lifter is Rochard’s bread and butter - a multipurpose
gun that solves puzzles and ends enemies. It starts weak, only allowing you to
pick up crates to toss at marauders, but you’ll find tool benches that upgrade
your gun from a sissy crate hucker to a sticky-grenade-shooting, mass murderer-ing
machine gun. This is almost too bad - killing enemies with boxes is much more
fun (and emasculating, presumably), and the game loses a bit of its finesse
when you can simply hold down a single button to end family lines. Picture
Portal with a gun that can shoot grenades and you’ll get the gist.
What the game lacks in shooter finesse it makes up for with
awesome puzzles and superb platforming sections. Controls take some getting
used to (all four shoulder buttons are used for a variety of different tasks,
from crouching to changing gravity) but once you get the hang of them, traveling
around is really rewarding. Halfway through the game you’ll be inverting
gravity and swinging from rafters like Spiderman and Tarzan’s potbellied
lovechild. The harder the puzzles the more fun they are, and other than a few
infuriating exceptions the checkpoint system is forgiving. Good thing because
between “doggonits” and “yeehaws” Rochard does a fair share of dying.
At five chapters, Rochard is long and doesn’t pad that
length with much backtracking. Each of the five chapters has beautifully
diverse settings which offset some of the tedium of incessant puzzles. Pictures
don’t do Rochard justice; it’s gorgeous and overflowing with color from
beginning to end. If you’ve got free time and ten bucks to spare, Rochard is worth its weight in unobtanium (or whatever obscure space rock they were looking for before Rochard started shooting people in the head).