|Dev: Recoil Games|
|Release: September 27, 2011|
|Screen Resolution: 480p-1080p||Suggestive Themes, Mild Language, Fantasy Violence|
by Josh Wirtanen
Over the past couple years, we've been seeing a bit of a 2D platformer revival. Last year, New Super Mario Bros. Wii brought Mario back to his 2D roots, Sonic 4 was (sort of) a return to classic Sonic gameplay, and indie smash hit Super Meat Boy tightened platformer controls to perfection. Now, SOE adds Rochard to the rapidly growing list of contemporary side-scrolling platformers.
The game tells the story of John Rochard, a space miner who takes his job very seriously. His no-nonsense, by-the-books approach often comes as an annoyance to his co-workers, but they seem to get along fine regardless—especially when it comes to John's female companion Skyler. However, he's stuck with the most unproductive crew in the solar system, dangerously close to losing their jobs if they don't make a big find soon.
It would seem luck is on their side, as they discover a strange glow coming from a nearby asteroid. But before they have time to investigate, they find themselves under attack by a group of space pirates. Apparently, they have stumbled upon more than a rich vein of ore; there's an ancient temple on this space rock that may have some serious implications in the search for alien life.
Rochard is a master at using space mining tools to get out of sticky situations, and players will use his sci-fi toolset to navigate their ways through action sequences and physics puzzles. The game's main tool is the G-Lifter, very similar to Half-Life 2's gravity gun, which can lift heavy objects and throw them. Coupled with this is Rochard's ability to lessen the gravity in the areas he explores. When coupled with the G-Lifter, this provides several interesting ways to get through the game's puzzles. For example, in low gravity, Rochard can lift heavier objects, and even hurl an object downward to increase his momentum on big jumps.
Another tool, which is more helpful for disposing of enemies than anything else, is the Rock Blaster. It shoots a laser beam that can fry opponents and blast open certain doors. Eventually, Rochard gets to use explosives, which also are mostly for taking down enemies, but can blow holes in certain surfaces to open up pathways and temporarily disable fuses.
All these tools combine lead to some pretty interesting ways to tackle the game's puzzles, and they also allow you to bring down enemies in an assortment of ways. Sure, it's simple enough to shoot a baddie in the face with a laser beam, but you can also use your G-Lifter to hurl crates at him, or pull a turret off the ceiling to explode next to him. In fact, you can even drop down on top of unsuspecting enemies to knock them out with Rochard's pot-bellied bulk.
The visuals are quite good for a downloadable title—cartoony, but still quite detailed—and they look great in HD. In fact, the art design is comparable to Team Fortress 2, Rochard himself bringing to mind TF2's Heavy. The look may even be reminiscent of some of Crash Bandicoot's more science-fictiony stages.
The audio is nothing short of incredible. Jon St. John—Duke Nukem himself—provides the voice of John Rochard. His performance is spot-on, presenting Rochard with a space cowboy drawl that fits his personality perfectly. The other characters, too, sound great, nailing the inflections and timing like true professionals. On top of this is the score, largely composed by Markus "Captain" Kaarlonen of the band Poets of the Fall. The game opens with bluesy guitar riffs, keeping with the "space cowboy" personality of John Rochard himself, but almost immediately branches out into several widely varying, yet appropriate, directions. You'll be solving puzzles to 80s-inspred electronic tunes, and even some unce-heavy disco-esque tunes in the casino chapter. The music is sometimes layered under effects as well. For example, in certain rooms in the casino, the music will sound muffled as if it's coming from another room. The soundtrack is all over the place, but is still somehow cohesive and coherent. More importantly, it sounds great.