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Rock of Ages Review


What’s the concept?
In Rock of Ages delightfully Python-esque world, Sisyphus finally gets his revenge. As the ancient king forced by Zeus to persistently push a giant stone up a hillside (only to have it repeatedly fall back down), the title offers an alternative mythology were the boulder is used as a vehicle for vengeance. As Ace Studios’ (Zeno Clash) sophomore release, players alternate between rolling these rocks though an opponent’s reinforced door and building impromptu defense systems- designed to protect against the enemy’s own encroaching bolder.

Gratifyingly, Rock of Ages rewards players on their way to the fortified front gates, tempting resolute rocks with period-specific trinkets to shatter. Although some destructibles might push a boulder perilously close to a path’s edges, each shattered object contributes to the war fund, allowing players to augment their defenses or even place a protective, spiked shell around their rock.


Once an overpowering orb dents their opponent’s entryway, participants are given time to supplement their resistances, placing item such as bulky ramparts, siege weapons, TNT barrels, or even angry elephants in an effort to stymie an opponent’s boulder.  Cleverly, each of Rock of Age’s levels offer multiple pathways, requiring players to be tactical in the placement of their protective forces.

What are the game’s strengths? Rock of Ages is undoubtedly elevated by its charming visual decisions and eclectic references, which allude to everything from Melies’ Voyage dans la Lune to Synder’s 300. Rolling sequences use a low perspective similar to the Super Money Ball series, while defense building channels the omnipotent viewpoint of a tower defense game. Both views are supplemented by a picture-in-picture, allowing players to observe their opponent’s deluge of destruction. In practice, the temptation of gleaning some insight on an enemy’s patterns can often place players on a trajectory for trouble.


Playable with either an online or local opponent, the game excels as a competitive diversion. Here, the thrill of circumnavigating another player’s elaborate guard system is particularly rewarding. Once players tire of head-to-head battles, Rock of Ages also offers a ‘skeeboulder’ variant and a series of time trials.

What could have been improved? Regretfully, the title’s balance between boulder bowling and building is imbalanced. Since victory usually stems from the force of your third rock smashing into the enemy’s gate, success rewards speed over strategy. Rocks of Age’s controls seem to substantiate the decision. Steering your stone controls impeccably, allowing players to swing their boulders around tight turns and leap over obstacles. Placing defenses is different story, as dropping items in specific squares obliged a bit of analog stick fiddling. Luckily, devices such as the catapults and ballistae have a suitably wide field of effect.


Is it worth the money?
Despite Rock of Age’s scarcity of deep strategy, guiding a behemoth boulder through garrisoned grooves and mowing down Western civilization’s luminaries is one of the more eclectic experiences of the year. At 800 Microsoft points, the game’s twenty-three level campaign and two-player variants offer “something complexly different” during an era marked by homogeneity.

About Robert Allen

With over 35 years of gaming experience, Robert ‘DesertEagle’ Allen is Tech-Gaming’s resident worrier/warrior who spends his days teaching at three colleges and his nights devoted to JRPGs.

22 comments

  1. If it’s “Rock Rolled” is there a Rick Ashley ball?

  2. WTF?

    A Atlus game that didn’t get an “A” from DesertEagle? What’s next a “A-” for Disgaea 4?

    • Need more teens who shoot themselves in the head and chacters who like like jailbait, Deagle probably thinks.

  3. Grabbing the demo right now. Pretty big size.

  4. Man, I hated Zeno Clash. I heard good things about it but found it really boring and kind of clunky. I hope this is better.

    • I thought it had its moments. I can’t think of a weirder looking game off the top of my head.

      I think most people are used to first-person perspective meaning first-person shooter.

  5. Is it anything like Katamari? I remember the previews were all name dropping that one.

  6. Need more teens who shoot themselves in the head and chacters who like like jailbait, Deagle probably thinks.

  7. I’ve been waiting for this one. Sounds crazier than From Dust alright, sounds like it plays better too.

  8. “In Rock of Ages delightfully Python-esque world…”

    YOu mean Gillian-esque, don’t you 😉

  9. Nice, you guys beat IGN and 1Up to the punch.

    • But beaten by Joystiq’s Ludwig who makes Deagle’s writing look like a drunk Tom Clancy.

      Case in point, “You’re still peeling off bits of Giovanni de’ Medici by the time you enter the Rococo period.” SAYWAT???

  10. That moon face is creepy alright. Does it change expressions as you play?

  11. The title makes me think of another bad music game.

    • All I can think of is this:

      http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=i_mw7rGTjpI

      “Rock of ages, rock of ages
      Still rollin’, keep a-rollin’
      Rock of ages, rock of ages
      Still rollin’, rock’n’rollin'”

      • Thats worse than a rick roll. 80’s hair metal FTL!

        Sounds interesting enough. Just from the idea I’ll download the demo. Also the 800 point price is much better than the usual 1200 point level that seems to be the norm these days.

  12. Great game. after getting the demo I didn’t even think twice about dropping the space bux.

  13. What do the cows do? Are they just for show?

    Also do you get points for running over people or just breaking things.

  14. Definitely got to try this one. I liked Zeno Clash, especially the character design.

  15. I really like the look of the game. How do you zoom when you place defenses, like in the 2nd pic?