Released about a month ago by Recoil Games, Rochard is one of the newest releases in the vein of Trine and other physics-based, side-scrolling platformers. It has flash; it has pizzazz; and it has a certain degree of charm. Can it play with the big dogs?

The demo begins where the game begins, a space miner named John Rochard pilots his vessel through an asteroid field back to his home base as he gives a brief backstory to the game. In the universe of Rochard, the fuel that powers interstellar travel is called turbinium and it is in high demand. After many unsuccessful years of searching for a new deposit of turbinium, the Skyrig company is about to call the search off and fire Rochard and his team. This is the situation that players step into as John Rochard. Equipped with a gravity gun called the G-Lifter capable of lifting heavy (but not too heavy) objects and throwing them; Rochard makes his way through the shoddily constructed Skyrig facility to contact his superiors. Upon contacting his boss, he is also notified that his team has discovered something alien in the asteroid. Shortly after informing his boss, the mining station comes under attack by mercenaries.

The demo is divided into three sections: basic object manipulation, introduction to anti-gravity, and combat. The first section features a good deal of moving around small boxes to navigate through different barriers that permit either only objects or people to pass through. To spice things you can also pull out power cores that provide (oddly enough) power to various devices throughout the ship. One of the things that I liked a great deal was the inclusion of a faint trail of arrows that show the projected trajectory of any object you grab onto with the G-Lifter. This makes aiming much easier and not the chore it could have been otherwise.

The second section takes the mechanics learned in the first section and adds low gravity control. This was probably what I had the most fun with in my time with the Rochard demo. Shooting boxes at enemies in low gravity and abruptly turning on normal gravity to change the box’s trajectory is fun as is hoping around in weightlessness.

The final portion of the demo focuses on combat with the introduction of the rock-blaster. I can see the potential for the puzzles to become harder and utilize the simple elements that are introduced throughout the demo. Using boxes as cover while getting shot at; making impossibly long low-gravity leaps; bouncing objects off of the environment with the G-Lifter; all of these actions are basic, but have the potential to be much more complex than what the demo showcases.

Rochard is definitely not the most beautiful game around, but it certainly isn’t the worst looking thing either. The closest game visually I can think of is Team Fortress 2. Rochard’s boss even looks like a white-haired version of the doctor, minus the coat, gloves, and medi-gun. That being said, the visuals are very clean and cartoony. Overall, the game looks inviting and family friendly.

The final verdict: I enjoyed the time I spent with the Rochard demo. It has a nice soundtrack (something that I didn’t mention before), an inviting art style, and solid core mechanics that are easy to use and enjoyable. For a cool $9.99 on Steam and PSN, it is light on the pocketbook in the middle of this year’s holiday season.

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