Most big budget titles that come out these days take advantage of long established or proprietary game engines, which is why there's something to be said about indie developers using smaller engines; it levels the playing field a bit. Unity is a freeware engine that devs can use to create games for multiple platforms like the PC, iPhone, and Wii. While it is a great took, there haven't been too many Unity-based games to hit consoles. In fact, Recoil Games are the first developer to release a Unity game for the PlayStation 3, "Rochard," a gravity defying, 2D, puzzle-platformer that will take you to the deepest recesses of the universe.
Space mining for the man is a tough business, and one bad day, things go from bad to worse for titular character Jon Rochard and his crew. After making a mysterious discovery on their asteroid, they get attacked, and then double-crossed by their boss. Rochard must try and save the day, and avenge his fallen crew, by investigating just what is going on at this deep space mining facility.
Our hero may resemble a young John Goodman more than a menacing figure, but he's packing some serious heat. Rochard wouldn’t stand much of a chance at taking down the evil Mr. Maximillian without his upgradable, and multifunctional G-lifter (a.k.a. gravity gun). "Rochard" twists player's minds by forcing them to solve puzzles and mess with gravity through numerous levels, in this traditional 2D side scrolling, puzzle platformer.
Sure, the gravity gun has been done before, but the team at Recoil Games seems to have perfected its first major appearance in a 2D game. The puzzles in each room are expertly designed to be fun, challenging, and take advantage of the unique gameplay that "Rochard" has to offer. While most of the puzzles center around getting Jon, and usually a fuse, from one end of the room to another, no two rooms play out the same way, whether this room has more turrets shooting at you, or that room requires a low gravity recoil jump, you never really know what to expect.
The Gravity Gun's A Blast
Talking about an arsenal of weapons in a game may not seem like a major selling point, but Jon Rochard's G-lifter gun gets more impressive at every turn. What starts off as an "average" gravity gun, soon becomes multifunctional, which really opens up the game: new ways to get around, new ways to open up doors, and (most enjoyably) new ways to kill things. Using the Rock Blaster upgrade to shoot things is fun, but turning on the low gravity setting, and launching a box across the screen into a space cop's face way more satisfying.
The highlights of "Rochard" really come from the gameplay, and not so much from the story behind it. While the tale isn't really bad, the cutscenes that it's told through tend to be. "Rochard" demonstrates that Unity can be a solid backbone for gameplay, but it also proves that there's still some room to grow when it comes to cut scenes.
Run And Gun Or Solve The Puzzle?
"Rochard" relies heavily on its' puzzles, but there's also a good deal of combat peppered in throughout the game, a balance of which seems to be slightly less than perfect. While there aren't really any points that are insurmountable, repeating certain parts of the game because you keep getting shot while trying to solve a puzzle or switching out your weapons, tends to get a bit tedious.
The Unity engine definitely has some limitations, but "Rochard" does a great job of glossing over them with enjoyable gameplay. When you look past all of the bells and whistles of a game, and just look just at its core gameplay, some titles loose their luster, but "Rochard" manages to hold its own. It's a hard time of the year for PSN games since they need to share the spotlight with so many other bigger name game, but try not to overlook "Rochard." It will offer you hours worth of challenging puzzles, and space police to shoot in the face. Really, it's the best of both worlds.