Just next door to the gargantuan PlayStation booth here at E3 is the SOE stand and, during a break from filming our live interviews, I popped over to take a look at an interesting little platformer called Rochard, coming exclusively to PlayStation Store this summer.
I sat down with the game’s producer for a guided playthrough and, while I figured out the buttons and got my brain around the gravity manipulation gameplay, he explained the general premise.
“You play John Rochard an astro-miner at a company called Sky Rig – we’re calling him an everyday hero,” he explained. “The entire company has been down on its luck in terms of finding anything but they stumble upon an alien artefact and, after reporting it to HQ, they find themselves surrounded by space pirates trying to get their hands on it. John is trying to protect his friends and find out what this artefact is in the process.”
The gameplay emphasis is less on combat and more on puzzles. You don’t even have a traditional gun at the beginning of the demo; instead you have a kind of plasma grappling line that you can use to grab inanimate objects such as crates and electrical fuses. You aim using the red stick and fire using the R2 button, and when you have an object in your grasp you can fire it with another squeeze of the R2 button, whether it’s to knock an enemy out or create a platform to give you that extra height to make a jump.
At any point you can press the L1 button to turn gravity down a few notches. Not only does this turn your standard jumps into Neil Armstrong style bounds, it affects the trajectory at which fire any objects you have grabbed.
This forms the basis of the puzzles I got to play through, which were mostly physics based and involve strategically firing crates to weigh down platforms and get over to the other side of the stage and progress. Extra complexity comes later on in the demo with the introduction of forcefields. John Rochard can pass through blue forcefields but inanimate objects can’t, and vice versa for red forcefields.
At the end of the demo I unlocked a gun attachment that paved the way for some more action-focused shooting sections.
Rochard is an intelligent little puzzle game that combines an appealing art style with an original toolbox of game mechanics to bring something truly original to PS3. It will be available to download from PlayStation Store later this summer and the demo that I played will also be available ahead of the full game’s release.