Savoring a good platformer is like sipping a fine wine for the first time; you want to enjoy every moment. If you’re a connoisseur you take a gentle sniff and a quick taste to make sure it meets your standards. Once it is approved, you let your taste buds figure out each of the different flavors that make it up. Recoil Games’ Rochard is a simple blend of gravity based puzzles and action-adventure game. While the puzzles may not hit mind-bending difficulty levels, the wide variety of challenges keeps each new board fresh. The title character John Rochard is the kind of blue-collar hero that makes you want to keep playing, even if the story doesn’t quite measure up to his warm personality.
TV Shows, movies and games add realism and empathy to a character when they smartly utilize ordinary people as the lead hero always. John Rochard is that hero in Recoil Games platformer for the PSN. His potbelly makes him look like Santa Claus with a mining helmet on. His character voice has the gentleness of a hard working single father and gives you a warm fuzzy feeling inside. The story, however, can’t quite measure up to his persona. Things have gone amiss on his Skyrig and Boss Maximillian wants to lay Rochard and his fellow workers off. Apparently, the Geology department isn’t doing their job of finding lucrative resources to mine. Of course, nothing is as it seems and before long Rochard and his co-worker Skylar are under attack.
Armed with his G-Lifter, Rochard can maneuver various objects to get around. You use the R2 button to grab an object and the R2 button to launch it. The right thumbstick allows you to adjust the direction and trajectory that you launch the object in. You can also press R1 to gently set an object down right in front of you. Initially, the puzzles are focused on getting you acclimated with the game. Blue force fields block inanimate objects, while red force fields block bio-matter (that’s you). In one scenario, you may need to get to the other side of a red force field and then use a crate to jump to a higher platform once you’re on the other side. Players can pick up a crate and shoot it through the red force field (that Rochard can’t get through). Then, Rochard can fall through a blue force field in the floor and come around on the other side of the red barrier to use the crate.
Players can also trigger low gravity at any time to jump higher. This also allows Rochard to float and throw objects for longer distances with the G-Lifter. The G-Lifter can also pull down doors and grab magnetic switches to open doors. Part of the fun of using the G-Lifter is in exploring the different ways to solve a given platforming puzzle or in figuring out how best to fight one of the enemy troopers. They enemies are pretty lame. They fire infrequently and a quick knock on the head from a falling crate puts them out. Later on, you actually get a real gun called a Rock Blaster. Its main purpose is to shoot down level barriers, but it can also be used to fire on enemies. The actual action of shooting down enemies can sometimes take away from the bliss of using the G-Lifter. Seriously, why use an actual gun when you can deftly use your G-Lifter to position a crate to reflect laser fire back at itself? There is also a cheesy melee attack that I would suggest you avoid.
None of the platforming challenges are extremely difficult. They are just very creative. So, the joy doesn’t come from painstaking challenges, but rather in the discovery of new ways to use gravity to your advantage.
The mining colony is a colorful futuristic world, but the level designs do tend to look very similar. Everything is an overlap of orange and purple colors. So while the puzzles are different, the actual look and feel borders on monotonous. There are some boards where gravity is inverted. Rochard walks on the ceiling. It would have been great if something were done differently with the visual style of these levels
Although Rochard could benefit from a visual upgrade, this is a solid platformer with an awesome leading character. Rochard is the type of character that can easily become a franchise player. Give Rochard a little more story and a few more difficult challenges and there’s no telling how high his gravity defying skills will take him.