Rock of Ages actually sponsored all the badges at E3 last year. I remember looking at it and taking notice because Atlus was behind it, but I never got to see it at the show. Well this year I got to fix all that with a visit to Atlus’ booth and a little sit down with Rock of Ages.
You play as Sisyphus fighting his way through different historical periods with his trusty boulder in hand. I didn’t get to see much of the story but what was there was presented in a very cool Monty Python cartoon-like style that you don’t see too much of these days. Hopefully the full story has some great humor to go along with those kinds of visuals.
Gameplay pits you against another boulder wielding adversary with a simple obstacle course (atleast in the level I played) between your boulder and their stronghold. The goal is to gain momentum through the obstacle course to smash into the door of the enemy’s castle with such force that you can get to the squishy little man inside. While your minions build your rock for you your job is to build up defenses against your adversary’s boulder. These include walls to slow down and slightly damage his rock as well as catapults to hurl projectiles and hurt the boulder even more in the hopes of destroying it before it makes it to your base.
You also have some options in the boulder you choose if you have the money for it such as an armored boulder that can take more of a beating or a winged boulder that allowed for a double jump. Defenses can only be built on white squares and one of the boulders is covered in oil that turns white squares into black so I could see some really infuriating tactics being used between friends in multiplayer.
Money to build all of these defenses is gained by destroying things with your boulder as you barrel towards the enemy gate. These include his defenses as well as optional little villages and decorations that you find on your path. Controlling the boulder is as easy as directing it with the left stick and jumping with the X/A button. The build up of momentum was noticeable and it quickly becomes quite difficult to change directions. Luckily if you fall off it only wastes a bit of time, but since the game isn’t divided into turns that lost time can really hurt you down the road.
As I mentioned before there is multiplayer available and I got to play a bit of local two player. The first mode is obvious; you play the same game I described above but with a human opponent instead of a computer one. Alternatively you could play skee ball which is always more fun. You and your opponent roll your boulders down a hill at the same time while trying to smash into targets on the way down and ending in a classic skee ball challenge for a score multiplier. Only the first one to the skee ball section at the end gets the multiplier so you have to balance your desire for that over your need to smash into targets for points.
Rock of Ages is a little weird, ok maybe really weird, but I think I can get behind it. The stages I played were overly simple but as long as things get more challenging and complex in later levels it could definitely be worth the money for a PSN/XBLA title. Give it a look when it releases later this year.