Preview: The familiar’s unfamiliar in Rochard

June 19, 2011

Rochard, a physics-based puzzle-platformer from Recoil Games and Sony Online Entertainment, feels familiar in many ways. Using a weird physics engine to grab boxes, take out enemies and make it through various rooms? Yeah, that feels like Portal. The very science-y, futuristic aesthetic? It reminds us a bit of ‘Splosion Man. Even that main character’s voice: it’s Duke Nukem himself, Jon St. John. 

Together, though, these elements seem to work in a way that’s not completely played-out. The physics engine functions almost solely as a jumping mechanic, while that hand-held device has more of a grappling-hook range when picking things up. The aesthetic is more than tolerable, and while it’s nothing new, the game’s not about atmosphere and story. Even St. John feels a bit different, voicing a burly old space miner named John Rochard, whose stubborn nature factors in more than a Duke-style inflated ego.

In our time with the game (in which we were admittedly a bit error-prone), we got to see some interesting ways the team is implementing physics puzzles. There’s not one specific solution, they said, and that’s by design. Want to traverse the gap by using a block to propel yourself squid-style? Sure. Want to carefully place platforms on barriers that you’ll fall through but they want, then use half-gravity to step across them? That works too. The system in Rochard allows for a bit of creativity, even with limited tools. The rest of the game is supposed to play out more like a Metroidvania enclosed-world game, but we haven’t seen those elements.

Rochard will release on PSN sometime this summer.