Rochard Review

Video games are escapist fantasies that let players transform into idealized cyborg super-soldiers, elvish mages, and “Chosen Ones” of whom prophesies have spoken.  A developer would have to be crazy to make a game that forces players to run around as a pudgy, redneck space miner. Then Recoil Games’ released Rochard.  From the instant the honky-tonk soundtrack started in the opening cutscene, I was sucked into this game and the exploits of its out-of-shape, working-class hero.

John Rochard is a lowly cog in the Skyrig mining company.  Like many of us, he isn’t out to save the universe; he just wants an honest day’s pay for an honest day’s work.  As the story goes, he and his fellow miners have been on a run of bad luck and are about to lose their jobs, and when they discover alien artifacts deep inside an asteroid, Space Cops and the Skyrig suits become even bigger trouble.


A man, his tools, and a “git ‘er done” attitude (the phrase comes up quite frequently) are the blue-collar heroes to foil a heartless corporation. Though the game touches on the serious issue of a growing class gap, silly workplace humor and top-notch voice acting keep this side-scrolling platformer lighthearted.

John’s “G-Lifter,” a piece of space mining equipment that functions rather like a telekinesis gun, helps, too.  He can lift and throw heavy objects with it, not unlike the Gravity Gun from Half-Life 2. The game has a steady series of upgrades for it and John quickly augments it with a laser gun and grenade launcher, but its primary purpose is moving objects; the majority of Rochard is spent using the G-Lifter to solve physics puzzles and interact with the environment.

John’s not a soldier, so gunplay isn’t a priority; even though a player can dispatch foes in classic shooter fashion, hurling things at the bad guys or manipulating the environment as John the miner is almost always more enjoyable. Rochard incorporates many sci-fi concepts, so gravity can be altered for both combat and platforming purposes (authentic Newtonian physics taught by a redneck!), and force-field floors can often be deactivated to send enemies plummeting to their doom.  There are mining lasers that can be swiveled around to scorch enemies, too. Shoot a small, hand-held laser, or use your tools to manipulate a huge, mounted one? A man and his tools wins again.


Force fields also prevent John from reaching his various objectives, and there are numerous different types. Some will let him through, but not objects he’s carrying with the G-Lifter. Others are just the opposite.  Progress is achieved through puzzle-solving: launching the right objects through the right color-coded fields, moving fuses, etc. As the game progresses, these setups become increasingly complicated and require more precise timing and aim to conquer, along with any of the Metroid-like equipment upgrades John will find along the way.

Like its unlikely hero, Rochard sneaks into a player’s library with little fanfare, but like any good, hard-working space miner, gets the job done right. It offers a set of intellectually stimulating challenges, and sets the tone with witty dialog and strong voice work to match. With influence coming from all the right directions, it’s difficult not to make the best of John Rochard’s workplace.


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Author: Charles Battersby View all posts by
Charles is a proud contributor to the 'Node and also writes for Player Affinity, Default Prime, The Indie Game Magazine, and is a Special Agent for the U.S. Department of Electronic Entertainment.

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