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    Rochard -- The Rise Of The Effeminate Henchman?

    One man, one woman, and where the f**k is that lisp coming from?!
    So I started writing about games again. I figured with the blossoming flowers and sunny Mid-West days, it would be a great opportunity to avoid all of that, and the humans that come with it. It also doesn’t hurt that I played Rochard whilst getting over food poisoning. Rochard is, and I rarely use this word, weirdly delightful. It’s a little strange and the controls are a bit unwieldy, but this game is worth it. Then there’s the effeminate henchmen.

    That’s right, effeminate henchmen. It’s not an odd choice and at portions of the game where you’re hearing the gruff, ham & egged workman’s voice of John Rochard, it’s actually quite welcomed. Though there is question if these lispy soldiers are products of intentional diversity in an in-game world, or something that was completely lost in translation. I’m hoping it wasn’t meant to be an off-color joke. More on that later, let’s talk about why I’m writing words about Rochard.

    I have no clue why I’m THIS compelled to write about Rochard. The game came out in December of last year, so anyone interested in reading a review and gauging their interest, has probably already done so. If you are interested, the game is out for PSN, Mac & Windows computational devices. Rochard is a space miner with a G-Lifter. A a gun that can grab objects and shoot stuff. Apart from that, it’s a side-scrolling adventure where you can manipulate gravity. Solve puzzles, bop foes.

    Though the controls can occasionally put Rochard in difficult-to-escape situations. Disposing of foes is usually as simple as dropping a block on their heads.

    Still not sure who this game will appeal to. Which, in essence, is why you are seeing words about it. As accessible and forward-thinking the core story is [save your coworkers, save the universe], the game has moments where it feels … empty. Not in the (obvious) sense you are playing a space miner, hurling your body through factories and work sites alone. You have a small, fractured crew and you’re trying to make sense of your new dangers.

    The game feels like it grows to a point of a poetic crescendo, but often times the player is just met with another brain teaser of a puzzle. The story of Rochard is so, straightforward, but the gratification one receives after solving their 30th gravity-based platform puzzle, well, it varies. And that hurts, because Recoil Games has done so much here. They’ve designed a game with so much personality, Michel Ancel would be proud.

    There are puzzles and control mechanics that teeter between functionally useful and aggravating maneuvers. An example would be the anti-gravity double jump. This move requires the player to press and hold: L1 to slow gravity, R2 to fire your gravity gun while using both analog sticks to control your character and the object you are jumping off of. While doing this you will be pressing the jump button, because you’ll rarely get it right the first time. So yeah, there’s learning curve that makes this cartoony science fiction tale not-so-accessible to some. Also, grow an extra thumb.

    Accessibility is a loose term when gauging whom will be interested. There is a child-like nature to this game, but occasionally you’ll year a swear word, but hey, I’m no prude. I’d proceed with caution when playing this around the family. At the same time, it’s something little boys and girls should see. There’s an atypical hero saving his female coworker, who is more than capable to fend for herself. And guess what? Their relationship isn’t hokey or tacked-on.

    But did I mention the effeminate male caricatures? Whom of which get quite repetitive nearing the game’s end, I don’t know how to call this one. Maybe the story is supposed to illustrate that the big bad guy has a proclivity for the sassier male?

    Either Recoil Games is trying to show more diversity in the gaming culture, or they are poorly executing an unnecessary joke. In whichever case, the fact that it’s still a question in my mind, means that it’s worth debate. Why are there so many of these types of characters populating the game? Is there a reason why the looping dialog maintaining the henchmen being “in desperate need of a manicure” or “being scared silly” suppose to mean something past a jab at metro-sexual and homosexual males? It could be a joke devoid of homophobia, and to these effeminate male characters’ credit, they are the strongest enemies with the most firepower in the game. If that means anything to you, it didn’t to me.

    But, I don’t know, it’s walking a line that gets more and more pronounced as more of the sassy dialogue is re-ran near the finale of Rochard. Not to mention the obvious, Rochard is shooting, exploding and squashing all these characters. Making these sparse-but-highlighted lines of speech less appealing when viewing it in a more critical manner. But they are shooting back at you, so I guess that's supposed to make it okay, right?

    The ending disappoints, it’s essentially a “see ya next time, in the the sequel!” To which, you go to their facebook page and they are still having issues getting funding for a sequel.

    After all this, I’m still saying, try Rochard. I need at least one other person to talk about this game with me. There is plenty of good to find in the game, the art is outstanding and the score leaves an impression that invites the player back for more. Until then, I’ll see ya on the Skyrig.

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