(Impressions) ROKH

Ever wanted to travel to Mars and colonize it? No? Well… then you need to watch more Total Recall and The Martian. While both movies don’t paint Mars as a vacation spot, traveling to another planet (as a concept currently) is cool and that’s that. Will ROKH help you fulfill your dreams in as much as any game can? Mars is definitely in the game and you will do a bit of walking around, and there are plenty of things to do, but the big question is: is it fun? Let me break it down for you.

Depending on how you want to look at it, ROKH could be described as a “walking simulator”. That’s not all the game has to offer, but there is a lot of walking to be had here on the red planet. Also, not all of the places you’ll come across are safe.

There is one thing that I would like to implore you to do if you do pick up ROKH when you know nothing about it other than it looks cool. Find the nearest two collections of broken white and orange buildings and make a base camp there. You’ll need to be around chests that give you water, air and food all the while being able to gather materials to make tools and gather resources and be able to build more stuff. It sounds circular, but the main point in ROKH is to build up a base and then figure out what happened there. Why are buildings there that seem to be intact and abandoned and why can’t I open any of the doors and salvage what’s inside? Why can’t I take the solar panels off the roofs? Yeh, let’s get off that train of thought.

It’s kind of frustrating that there are all sorts of materials just lying around here on Mars and for some reason… you can’t take anything! I can craft a crowbar, but can’t use it where I want it. I’ve broken things with a hammer before…

I died a bit in ROKH when I first turned it on simply because I didn’t know what I was doing. You’ve got to monitor your health and all the multiple variables included like: hydration, hunger, radiation levels, air and “are my legs broken?”. All of these are very important because they will all kill you if they get to high or low whatever the case may be. Ok, maybe having your legs broken won’t directly kill you, but if will indirectly because you’ll be much slower and can’t get back to a power node or your food stash or more oxygen since you’re walking so slowly. You know what? Just take my advice and don’t jump off of really high places. The lower gravity and rocket pack won’t help you ease the fall enough. There are enough other things in the game to worry about, just do yourself that favor.

This is not a place you want to be when your legs are broken since climbing is hard enough. Snails pace does not even begin to describe the speed at which you shuffle. The only thing worse is being overburdened.

At this moment, I do feel the game is very complicated tool wise. Rest assured, it gets easier the more you play it. However, you start off with one tool and the ability to create one other tool without looking for additional resources. However, with the first initial tool you’ll notice that you can build five other tools, all of which you’ll need to create additional tools and variations of them and other machines to make specific items. This all wouldn’t be too much to take because, like I said, you get used to it eventually. The biggest issue is the “tool belt” where you can only switch between five items at a time by manually going into your inventory to drag and drop each item/tool. That sucks for all the tools that you need to use, but then think of food, water, and tablets to keep radiation down that you will no doubt need to use while still needing to switch out a tool with back and forth to stay alive or safe. It’s a small inconvenience to be sure, but super annoying when under pressure.

I don’t have access to my hammer and I also don’t have my radiation tablets. It’s a small thing, but maybe there could be a button that allows two pop up windows for options or maybe I could scroll through my tools while the tool belt could be used for food and items?

Let’s hit on the story a little shall we? Plain and simple, it’s all in the background. There are consoles scattered about the Mars landscape that will give you a bit of the background to why the situation is the way it is. Possible spoiler alert: it seems that there was a working civilization here and there was an A.I. that helped out. Eventually, there was a situation that made it seem necessary to give power to it for a bit and it didn’t give it back. That’s a horrible summary to be sure, but there was also a meltdown of a nuclear reactor aaaaaaaaand… none of it seems to mater. It’s like a small chocolate chip in an already delicious brownie. You didn’t need the story, but I guess it’s nice that it’s there even if it doesn’t currently change anything that you’ll be doing or why you’re doing it. The point of ROKH is to re-colonize Mars; it’s as simple as that. So get to it!

Have I mentioned how complicated the crafting can be? Like real life, it takes many tools to create many objects to craft one specific thing. Is realism being picked over convenience the right or wrong move? Does it have to be either or? (Side note: always keep the mats for crafting a hammer and a pickax ready and accessible.)

I’d be misleading you if I didn’t mention this, currently there is a bit of lag. It’s not constant, but it is there. There will be times where you don’t experience it and those times are wonderful. There are other times where you’ll realize that it’s starting to lag and you’ll try to stop yourself from moving any more closer to the ledge you were edging up to. Then, when the lag subsides, you’ll be falling to a possible death if your rocket pack doesn’t kick in properly. Other times, you’ll be able to walk around and look at tool options and inventory, but not be able to do anything in-game like open doors/boxes or craft anything. This can last a few minutes. This is in addition to the official servers crashing or simply not letting you in at times. I haven’t gotten around to playing on a player crafted worlds, but I hope the experience is better there currently on a server hosted by a player, but I would also assume (I know, I know) that these issues would be worked out before the official launch.

Is ROKH a solid title? Kind of. Is it fun? Mostly. Does it still need work? Yes. ROKH is a pretty cool game and while it has some kinks to work out as far as lag is concerned, it’s a tough base building / sandboxy game that naturally gets easier the more familiar you get with it. They will be adding some things later like PVP that can add a more frustrating element to it, but I’m thinking that will be on specific servers. We’ll see how it goes though. As of right now, if you like to help with the development of games that are legitimately Early Access and if you like this type of game, ROKH could definitely be for you. If it seems interesting, but don’t like to play with some annoying glitches until they get kinks worked out, you might want to wait a little bit. However, I’m enjoying my time… even with all of the stress and death it took to get to where I am currently.

Further Reading on ROKH: Facebook / Steam / Twitter

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