Rochard is not your average 2D platformer and players certainly won’t expect an interesting and engaging story from such a game, but this is one exception you will be happy to play.
Unlike a lot of games released with the help of the Humble Bundle initiative, Rochard is a rather new title. It was initially released in 2011, to critical acclaim, mostly because of the game mechanics and story.
Most serious gamers have been playing 2D platforms for a lifetime. They represent a genre that has to be one of the most successful and visited areas of gaming. It’s certainly not a money maker, but a lot of titles released for this particular genre have remained in the collective memory of the community.
Rochard could be one of these games that make an impact because it was launched on multiple platforms before reaching Linux, and because it makes use of a serious story in a type of game that is not used with this kind of treatment.
The game is built on the Unity engine, by Recall Games, and it's perfectly compatible with the Linux platform, although it was created long before Unity Technologies announced that their engine would also be Linux compatible.
This being said, Recall Games provides two packages, in the form of tar.gz archives, one for the 32-bit platform and the other one for the 64-bit platform.
There is no installer and the game can be played right after extracting the archive. According to the developers, the official supported distribution for Rochard is Ubuntu, but the game has been reported to run within parameters in Fedora and Arch Linux.
The minimum system requirements is Ubuntu 10.10, a 2.6 GHz single-core processor, 1GB of RAM, 3GB of free space, at least 256 of MB video memory, and a video card capable of 3D acceleration.
The recommended requirements are Ubuntu 12.04 LTS, a 3.0 GHz dual-core processor, and a Geforce 200 series or Radeon HD3000 series video card.
Story and Gameplay
I have to say, when I first started the game I wasn’t expecting much in terms of a storyline, but the song played in the intro sequence reminded me of the TV show Firefly.
The game sports a western sci-fi atmosphere that is underlined by the southern accent of the main character, the rusty space ships, and the humor used for dialogues.
John Rochard is the name of the main character. He’s a middle-aged fat miner, with an attitude. Rochard and his team are searching for a very rare resource called turbinium (an allusion to the Total Recall movie featuring Arnold Schwarzenegger), but they have problems in locating the mineral.
He is just about to get fired by his boss from Skyrig Corporation, but his associate Skyler makes the find of a lifetime. Inside an asteroid they locate some sort of an alien temple, but they are attacked by space pirates, at a very unfortunate time. This is where the adventure begins, with Rochard trying to survive the pirate’s attack and save his comrades.
Rochard’s only weapon is a G-Lifter, a nifty device which resembles the gravity gun from the Half Life series. In the beginning of the game it can only lift small crates and pick up small flying bots, bun in time it can be upgraded until it fires like a laser gun and it can also pick up people.
The levels are conceived as large puzzles. The player has to lift boxes, stack them, jump, and even manipulate the gravity in order to achieve a greater height when jumping. Most of the solutions are evident right from the start and they only require a little coordination, but sometimes the way out is not that obvious.
Although the game is built on the Unity engine and both computers we used to test the game had way better hardware than what the developer recommended, it failed to provide a smooth gameplay. The overall experience is not bad, but we expected the game to be a little better optimized for Linux.
It’s not difficult lo love the game right from the start. The soundtrack is amazing and the dialogues and monologues are amazingly well done.
The art style used for character and level design also does a good job at hiding the low resolution textures, and the overall impression is that the engine is up to par with the other games of its generation.
Rochard may be just a 2D platformer, but I have to say that moving to a 3D environment, while keeping the same quality of storytelling and action, could be a success recipe in the future.
As it stands, Rochard is an excellent title, with every chance of becoming one of the most loved games for Linux. We can recommend it to everyone who wants to combine a great puzzle game with a good and funny storyline.