Rock of Ages Review
Falls short of a rocking affair.
As the tower-defence genre continues its invasion of online marketplaces, Rock of Ages from Atlus is another game that presents the genre in its own weird flavour. Being different can, however, either lead to success or massive failure; so let’s see how Rock of Ages does.
You take control Sissyphus, who gets fed up with pushing a boulder up a mountain repeatedly and decides to use that boulder to break free. After breaking free, you travel along history fighting various historical figures. This storyline is told by hilariously quirky cutscenes before each level, which are one of the highlights of the game.
As you can see, the storyline definitely isn’t one of the selling points for this game. So we’ll move on to the more important gameplay, and it doesn’t disappoint in terms of its differentness either. Unlike a lot of tower-defence games, this one gives more importance to attack than it does to defence. Also, unlike a lot of games, it isn’t the traditional tower-defence game with turrets and waves of enemies that get stronger and bigger.
In Rock of Ages your main defensive units include a variety of towers (which don’t shoot), catapults, cows, elephants, wind-machines etc. And what do these units try to stop? They’ll be stopping the opponent’s boulder from destroying your gates. You also get to attack using boulders which you control past your opponent’s defence down slopes along various tracks; you can steer them or make them jump. Once you crash a boulder into your opponent’s gate, you have to wait while another boulder is made and you can use this time to strengthen your defences.
The defence will do its job mainly by weakening the boulder or by pushing it off the winding tracks. Weakening the boulder means that it causes less damage to your gate and hence your opponent needs more boulders to destroy your gate, while pushing the boulder off the track wastes a few precious seconds which means that you get your next boulder rolling before the enemy.
All this sounds great in theory, but in reality the defensive part of the game is undercooked. The fact that your boulder can jump renders a lot of the opposition’s and your defences useless; and the game turns into a race to see who can hit the enemy’s gates first. Most of the time you only need 3 boulders to do the job. You can also buy different types of boulders, which cause greater damage. But this is superficial in the end, as you more often than not need 3 boulders.
There are also boss battles, but most of the entertainment from these comes from the stupidity of the battle rather than its difficulty, as these levels are very very easy. You also need to collect a certain number of golden keys before these battles, but this is a pointless formality as you manage to collect enough keys without really trying.
You can also test yourself against human opponents online or offline, but this is affected by the same flaws and doesn’t feel a lot different to the campaign mode.
The graphics won’t wow you, but they won’t disappoint either; however the quirky art-style does suit the theme of the game, as do the paper characters of the game. There’s virtually no speech in the game, but the sound effects used during the cutscenes make them hilarious; while the background music suits the game very well, and it speeds up in the final parts of each level to complement the frantic scramble towards the enemy’s gates.
The ideas behind the game are great, but the execution is a bit disappointing. There’s a lot of wasted potential that will hopefully be made full use of in Rock of Ages 2 but, as it stands, ROA is a decent game if you’re looking for something that isn’t too intense but can provide a few laughs.