July 21, 2020
Have you ever wondered what would happen if Super Monkey Ball added a tower defence mode? Me neither. But the creators of the Rock of Ages series clearly have, and the thinking behind the third game is no different.
Rock of Ages 3: Make or Break pits various historical figures against one another in an entertaining series of battles, with the series’ trademark Monty Python-esque humour running throughout. When the first thing you do is roll a ball of sheep through a cave to escape a cyclops, you know you aren’t exactly in for The Last of Us levels of seriousness.
Honestly though, the campaign isn’t where the fun lies. Partly because its tower defence levels just aren’t very good and its tutorial fails to address the basics of erecting your defences, possibly because the game may have been developed mainly with existing fans in mind. The main reason for heading elsewhere in the game is the newly-added level creator.
Whether you make your own levels or play those shared by others, it’s difficult to underplay the importance of this new addition. Rock of Ages is a game perfectly suited to this, and this third outing proves as much. Building levels is as simple as creating a path from beginning to end, however twisty and turny you fancy, with hills and troughs, jumps and shortcuts. Add in decorations and obstacles, from trebuchets to charging beasts, and away you go. I’m not exaggerating either, it’s incredibly easy to build levels, which should mean that Rock of Ages 3 has near endless replayability as long as the community sticks around.
Even pre-release, there are already a few impressive user-created levels available. They’re playable with up to three other players online, as well as against the AI if you prefer playing alone. Either way, there’s a great variety of obstacle courses in there from the developers themselves, as well as a few of those fun community levels too. A list that will only increase in size beyond the game’s release period.
The community-made levels are where Rock of Ages 3: Make or Break really shines. The campaign is fine, although the difficulty is often a little unbalanced, feeling weighted against the player during those tower defence missions. Again though, when you’re in control of a boulder, breaking through obstacles in an effort to smash your opponent’s defences, the game is great fun.
The controls are simple, needing only directional input and a jump button. Don’t question why a boulder can jump, logic has no place here. You need to be mindful of gravity and inertia, keeping your boulder ahead of your rival (or rivals) while also making sure it doesn’t roll off the edge. It’s tricky to maintain a decent speed, while also weaving between the themed obstacles of each historical/fantastical era. Some seem harmless, but giant demons can punt you toward the horizon and you’ll bounce off giant frogs right quick, if you aren’t careful.
Racing is always frantic, sometimes a little frustrating when the boulder doesn’t move the way you think it should, or the hit detection seems a little off and you’re catapulted off the track, but it’s usually fun despite any issues. It’s just a shame that the tower defence doesn’t have that same fun factor.
Thankfully, with its remarkably simple map creator and some rather fun obstacle course gameplay, Rock of Ages 3: Make or Break has a potentially bright future ahead of it, as long as the community sticks around; which I suspect it will.
Community-made levels are where the game shines
Obstacle courses can be great fun
Monty Python-esque humour
Tower defence isn’t much fun
Difficulty often feels weighted against the player
There’s a lot to like about Rock of Ages 3, but its tower defence half simply isn’t one of them. Thankfully, community-made levels will keep the game fresh for a long time.