Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Rock of Ages Hands On

A game so weird that it might be after my heart. Rock of Ages is a little bit tower defense and a little bit marble madness. A demo for the game came out on Xbox Live Arcade today and it gives you three singleplayer levels to try, a skeeboulder level and a time trial level. Skeeboulder is basically just a time trial run, except it's all about points, not time. From the first minute of the game you will be aware of the eccentricities of the art and design, but it's not a bad thing. It's one of the ways Rock of Ages distinguishes itself. Before I get any further with explaining this odd game, let's get some basic details down.

Basic Info
Developer: Team Ace and Atlus
Game Type: Tower Defense/Action-Strategy
Unique Features: Gameplay is very unique, art style is amazingly odd, great cash value and lots of replayability.
Releases Dates: August 31st XBLA. September 7th PC/PSN.
Platforms: PC, Xbox 360, PS3
Price Tag: $9.99 or 800 Microsoft Points
The game has many modes: Singelplayer campaign, SkeeBoulder, Time Trial and Multiplayer (split-screen and online). The singleplayer campaign is pretty silly, but really fun and difficult. It starts out easier, but the later level in the demo is quite difficult. The AI is excellent at smashing through your defenses. It's also interesting to see the campaign go through four ages, starting with Ancient Greek and then the following three are Medieval, Renaissance, and Rococo. The gameplay is not something I've ever played before.
The map layout reminds me of some kind of checkered puzzle, but you control a boulder, the Rock of Ages, and you must roll it through obstacles into your enemies castle. The enemy has a castle gate that you must break through and the more damage your boulder takes before you get to the gate, the less damage you will do to it. You actively control the boulder, dodging and smashing through things like towers, sharp turns, catapults, villagers, powder kegs (don't want to hit those!), cows and many other obstacles that the enemy may place in your way. Every time you use you aren't in direct control of the Rock of Ages, you are out in the tactical map. You and the enemy both use money to place obstacles in each others way. Obstacles like towers slow down the enemy boulder and also cause a little bit of damage to it, you may also place things like catapults, trebuchets and cows that actively seek to hit an enemy boulder. You get money by destroying objects, but your really want to hit neutral objects like village buildings and pots/vases. You do get money from destroying enemies objects, the ones intended to slow you down, but the neutral objects don't do as much damage to you and tend to give you more money. To change up the gameplay a bit your Rock of Ages can get upgrades, for money. In the demo they showed off a spiked ball that made it more durable and also a flame ball that blasted through everything.

Atlus USA Teaser Trailer: Rock of Ages

Trying to balance between tower defense and taking direct control of the action makes the game challenging. Rock of Ages gives you big maps with a lot of space to build and try tactics, but it takes a while to be able to make some really strong boulder deterrents. I love how you learn tactics and formation by seeing how the AI places them against you, because the AI is quite good at plowing through your defenses and putting up roadblocks to slow you down. As weird and enjoyable as the game was, I wasn't sold by the demo. It is a very unique experience, it has great graphics and it costs less than most XBLA games, but I did run into a few bugs and I am worried that gameplay may become quite repetitive. Check out the demo on XBLA for yourself or wait until it shows up on Steam on September 7th. Thanks for reading, be back with more news very soon.

Want to see more? Check out the main website.

-Written by Sean Cargle


  1. Played it. Totally strange but good fun for everyone. Digging the site guys keep up the good work. Indie jounalism is good for the mind.

  2. Thank you for the complement and thank you for commenting, we don't get enough comments, good or bad.