Tower defense is a genre I still feel is coming into its own. Whether you love it or hate it, chances are you have played some form of it over the past few years. Atlus, a company known for creating quirky and original games, has taken its latest downloadable effort into this realm while adding their own charm to the mix. Rock of Ages is a hybrid tower defense/bowling/strategy/comedy/whatever else is thrown in there for an eclectic experience to say the least. Even with all of these elements, it somehow still comes together for one enjoyable experience.
Now let’s see, there is a story mode here and it is just as wild and crazy as the premise of the game. You take on the role of Sisyphus (yeah I pronounce it that way too) and a giant boulder as you travel through various time periods. The goal of each one is to roll your boulder down a large pathway and beat down the door to your rival before he beats yours down. In between each round your workers will build a new boulder while you manage to lay down defenses to slow down the opposition. Your opponents range from standards such as Napoleon to more diverse characters such as Leonidas.
The humor is very goofy, featuring a Monty Python kind of feel with men screaming like girls and plenty of sight gags. It combines nicely with the look and feel of the game. As I mentioned, the core of the game is as simple as beating down your opponent’s door before they beat yours down. You accomplish this by traversing down the path, gaining speed and slamming into it. Every door takes a few good strikes, so it is best to build defenses in between rounds to slow down the opposition.
Controlling your boulder feels much like Marble Madness in the sense that you can steer any direction you want while the physics influence your path. Laying down obstacles is as easy as bringing up a wheel and selecting the desired weapon. You have to earn money by destroying your opponent’s defenses. You can also earn power up bonuses for your boulder, giving you a stronger rock or perhaps one with spikes on it. Nothing is sacred here as you roll down the side of the mountains crushing all those in your way with little regard for human life. After all, this is boulder warfare!
There are a few other modes to toy around with after you blast through the campaign, which lasts roughly 4-5 hours. You have skeeball mode, which is exactly what it sounds like. You also have a time attack and a host of multiplayer modes both online and off. All of this serves as a nice buffer to keep you coming back for more, although none of the modes are going to become party favorites.
Visually, I love the style of the game as it gives off the same vibe as its humor portrays. The gritty feel and goofy faces on the boulders truly had me laughing at some of the designs. The cut scenes are like cut out Greek paintings, and everything just flows together well. There is so much flavor to the art style that it is hard not to love it. The game is just so unique on every front. And, let’s not forget those man screams.
Rock of Ages is a nice step outside the box for gamers tired of the same crap they are fed on a daily basis. If you are sick of puzzle games and twin stick shooters on services like PSN and XBLA, speak with your wallet and pick this up. I challenge anyone not to have fun rolling down classic figures as they scream in dismay. Even if you have not been a fan of the tower defense genre, I highly recommend giving this game a go. It more than makes up for any shortcomings it has with pure style and grace.
Review copy provided by publisher. Primary play on Xbox 360.