I’m always grateful when games that get sent to the team generate that instant feeling of “OH SHIT, we get to review that?!” or “OH SHIT, I didn’t know this was a thing??!” Rock of Ages 3 was certainly not on my radar, so I was pretty pleasantly surprised to see it in action. I’ve come to realize that I’m not super good at it (I was struggling with getting max stars on most of the campaign levels), but I slowly got used to the four game modes that Rock of Ages 3 highlights. I have to compare this game to Super Mario Maker because of the heavy emphasis on user shared content online. After a quick tutorial from Napoleon Bonaparte (yeah… this series is a bizarre, quirky jaunt of history’s finest – real or myth), you can pretty easily access the creation tools. I think a few bugs and control faults can muddy your first few levels, However, a lot of fixes have been put out since I first got the game, so I’m confident a lot of those complaints will be alleviated soon enough.
Rock of Ages 3 combines aspects of tower defense with Super Monkey Ball or Marble Madness physics 3D platforming. There are two visual layouts: the topdown, RTS-esque perspective and the 3D obstacle course view. War is the game mode that features the isometric view as half of the gameplay. You set down traps on an obstacle course, which will help delay your opponent from ramming into your castle. Each new castle siege run requires you to recarve your Rock of Ages to roll out. So the longer you can prolong the inevitable, the more likely you can go on the offensive and take them out before they take you out. The other half of gameplay is the offensive phase, where you navigate your rock through the obstacle course to ram into your opponent’s castle. You are rewarded with more damage the faster you go and the less damaged your rock. So while going slower will help you maintain that health part, faster runs will help you win the race in the long run. As you play, you can unlock new obstacles or rocks with different attributes to create a loadout prior to level start ala Plants vs Zombies. Campaign levels can be unlocked by collecting enough stars, with some stars unlocked by defeating challenges such as destroying an enemy castle while your castle incurred minimal damage. New areas unlock new enemies, and unlock cute vignette cutscenes that hit that slapstick, goofy humor I’ve dabbled in just right.
Outside of the war gametype, with the back and forth tower defense/attack, skee ball was the next encounter I faced. You are essentially put on the same map on a race to get to a ramp at the end of the level with enough momentum to launch yourself into a skeeball hole to score points. The first player to get to the ramp gets all the glory, so you gotta be quick and accurate. The fact that you are on the same map means you can bump into each other, although more often than not, hitting someone from behind will just propel them forward to victory! This mode was… okay, really depends on the map type. Next one is Humpty Dumpty, a game mode where you control Humpty Dumpty of fable fame. He is a delicate egg boi, and only has three lives to get to the end of the stage. I found this to be the most obvious, arcadey experience for quick bursts of fun. Finally, there’s a time attack race that reminded me of one of my favorite games as a kid – Hydro Thunder. You have to reach the checkpoints so you can get that sweet sweet TIME EXTENDED so you can make your way to the end without falling short. Yeah I really enjoyed this one – war is definitely what defines Rock of Ages, but these distractions are a nice way to practice controlling the rock.
Overall, I’ve enjoyed my time with Rock of Ages 3. I haven’t seen a user created level that really floored me like some of the options in Super Mario Maker, but I’m sure it’s just a matter of time for the community to flourish. I personally wish that the out of bounds animation was a little quicker because it tilts me to no end having to wait to respawn. I think it may just be a matter of game balance, but I think you can smooth out that sort of thing as a quality of life change. Not really a legit complaint, but boy the minotaur enemy that just buries you into the ground and completely locks out your controls can be a real killer if you keep getting stunlocked. Those were just standout moments that I remember caused me to rage a bit, but also I think I just need to git gud.
Rock of Ages III is developed by Modus Games
Available on all platforms for $29.99: X1, PS4, Steam, Switch,
A review copy was provided by the devs.
Hellfirebam has awarded Rock of Ages III the Indie Gamer Seal of Approval. It takes a little while to get used to, but it’s dumb, stupid fun.