The lights are on
I remember picking up the demo for Rochard and loving the introductory cutscene (complete with the fantastic song by the ever talented Poets of the Fall) and the gameplay. When the game went on sale, I had to buy it and see if the rest of the game lived up to my initial impressions. Rochard is always somewhat charming, with its unorthodox protagonist and mostly enjoyable puzzles, but the game seems to lose steam as time goes on, missing a lot of potential to become merely good as opposed to great.
John Rochard, originally an interesting protagonist, fast became just another placeholder avatar with the exception of a few particularly witty lines and one particularly amusing moment later in the game. While swinging later in the game, the voice actor does so well with Rochard's enjoyment that he genuinely seems to be having a blast. Sadly, after this momentary breakthrough of character, I do not recall much else of note from Rochard's character. The story becomes somewhat mediocre, and the characters do not live up to the initial expectations I had for them, but the banter between Rochard and Skylar does save the game from breaking down entirely into abstract gameplay.
Speaking of gameplay, the puzzles and platforming are enjoyable enough almost all the way through. Platforming can be a little sloppy, but there is no point that really requires pinpoint precision. The ability to manipulate gravity also makes it very easy to navigate the levels. Over time some of the puzzles become repetitive, but there are a few strokes of genius in the game that were sadly underutilized in favor of more standard room layouts that just seemed like the same puzzle rearranged. What I suppose I would call the first boss battle, for lack of a better term, is the pinnacle example of good design for me, wherein the game expects you to utilize what you have learned about certain shields. I will not say more, but had more of the puzzles felt as clever as this one (asking me to utilize the environment and what I've learned in a smart way, even if the solution is somewhat simple), the game would have received a much higher score.
I would say Rochard is a decent option if you are thinking of picking up a game from the PSN. Despite my slight disappointment with puzzle variety, I do not think there was ever a point where the puzzles actually bored me. It is no Limbo, but Rochard manages to hold its own and remain a solid game from start to finish.
Concept: Take a quirky protagonist, put him in space with a gravity gun, and give him 2D platforming puzzles to solve.
Graphics: The game always looks rather good. If you don't mind slightly cartoony graphics, there will be no complaints.
Sound: Voice acting is surprisingly good, though I wish there would have been a bit more to it. Similarly, after the intro song, I do not recall anything noteworthy about the music.
Playability: Controls are pretty responsive. With the exception of an occasional hiccup in platforming and aiming the gravity gun, the game runs very well.
Entertainment: By the end I was definitely ready for the game to be over, but the game should easily be able to keep you entertained to see it through to the end.
Replay Value: Moderately Low to Moderate (Depending on your interest in collectables and speed running, both of which are tied to some of the trophies for the game)
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