Rock of Ages Review
As a fan of ACE Team’s previous work with Zeno Clash, I was excited for Rock of Ages, a multiplayer-focused title that mashes together traditional tower defense and boulder rolling that resembles the classic gameplay of Marble Madness. Unfortunately, the unique sense of humor and tour of art history that the visuals take you on can’t completely make up for an overall lack of depth to the game.
At its core, Rock of Ages is a one-on-one multiplayer game. Each player has a short amount of time to build up defenses while their boulders are being created, but your giant rock will be ready to roll so quickly that it’s hard to strategize or create defenses with any sort of consistency. In the single-player campaign, the AI always seems to have an excess of cash, plopping down way more towers and obstacles much more consistently than I was ever able to.
For better or worse, the strategy/building aspect of Rock of Ages doesn’t play into victory very much. Once your boulder is out on the field, you take direct control, rolling it past your opponent’s traps while attempting to maintain as much size as possible for smashing into the enemy’s gate. Buildings barely matter; the key to victory is simply getting your boulder to hit the opposing gate as soon as possible after spawning. Three boulder hits is all you will need to win in most situations, so success has more to do with ignoring obstacles and making a beeline for the gate. It’s still satisfying sending a giant rock hurling into your enemy, but I wish I could have explored these crazy locations and spent more time enjoying the natural fun of smashing things instead of feeling so rushed.
Despite a large variety of maps with wildly differing art styles and a steady stream of new towers to build, I found myself bored with using the same strategy over and over again to win. Rock of Ages mixes things up slightly with a handful of boss battles, but these trial-and-error encounters feel out of place, forcing you to play a completely different game than the regular levels.
The one aspect in which Rock of Ages shines is its excellent, comedic cutscenes. As you move through art history, Monty Python-esque cardboard cut-out figures act out a variety of historic scenarios with limited dialogue and plenty of laugh-out-loud moments. If you’re looking for one of those rare games that does humor right, Rock of Ages is a stand-out example. It’s just a shame that the gameplay didn’t quite match up.