Review: Rochard

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Crates. Since the dawn of the digital age, man has struggled with crates. Inexplicably, video games contain about a hundred times more crates than exist in the known universe, some to be pushed, some to be broken, and some to arbitrarily block your progress. Rochard is, first and foremost, a game of crates. There’s shooting, there’s some cute writing, but there’s mainly a lot of crates.

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If you’re like me and have been wondering what the hell kind of name “Rochard” is, it’s the name of the pot-bellied protagonist, John Rochard. A blue-collar asteroid miner down on his luck, you control the surprisingly spry fellow on a day when everything goes to hell. Your main tool in this adventure is the G-Lifter, a gravity gun knockoff that can lift crates, drop crates, launch crates, and do some other stuff like double as an assault rifle and grenade launcher. You’ll also get control over gravity for much of the game, and the interplay between your crate gun and gravity manipulation is the basis of most of the puzzles.

Generally your challenge is getting from point A to point B by stacking crates, swapping fuses, and finding ways around force fields and chasms. The force fields are actually a nice touch, with some blocking organic matter, some inorganic, and some energy like weapon fire. They’re color-coded to function, and my favorite puzzles are figuring out how to get yourself and the items you need through networks of force fields. Still, I have to stress that a lot of your puzzling will depend on crates, so if the stacks and see-saws in Half-Life 2 burned you out, you might not last long with Rochard.

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The other major part of the game is combat. Rochard is way more combat-heavy than I expected, with most puzzles needing to be cleared of enemies and turrets before working out the solution. Your G-Lifter can switch to pew pew mode with the touch of a button, and crates make very deadly weapons here, so combat is at least integrated pretty seamlessly and offers plenty of entertaining options. You’ll get weapon and life upgrades as you progress, and there are collectibles to find if you need a little extra puzzling, but most of the game is very linear and offers the same challenges in mounting degrees.

Look, do you like crates? That’s really all this boils down to. Rochard looks, sounds, and plays really well for a platformer, but everything revolves around crates and what you can accomplish with them, and at this point in our lives I’m not entirely convinced we really need much more of that. It’s a solid game that’ll last you 3-4 hours (plus some additional challenges) so as long as you know what you’re in for, it’ll fill your crate quota.

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