PAX East was packed wall to wall with new games. It was impossible to even begin to cover them all. Between the massive new titles sure to dominate the multiplayer scene for years, the sequels to beloved AAA franchises, countless indie titles, and the first appearance of truly great VR titles, PAX East was a fantastic show all-around. But the game we want to talk about here did not even manage to reach the show floor proper . Yes, there was so much gaming shoved into the Boston Convention and Exhibition Center that for some games, you had to step off the floor and visit Room 103B, the Kickstarter room.
ROKH is the first title from Darewise Entertainment, a small French indie company comprised of industry veterans such as Benjamin Charbit and Marc Albinet, who worked on titles as diverse as Age of Conan and Assassin’s Creed 3. These developers have set out on their own to create a first-person sandbox survival game coming to Steam Early Access. Despite the fact that ROKH shares much in common with many of the other survival games filling up the Steam Store, it does show a lot of promise.
The title refers to the great bird of Middle Eastern mythology, the Roc. However, ROKH has nothing to do with the Middle East or even Earth. Instead, it is best described as The Martian: The Game. You play as an astronaut stuck on Mars, with little resources, and little hope of survival. You must build your habitat, and acquire precious resources such as air to survive, since you need to, you know, breathe.
Much of the early game is based around simply sealing up your oxygen supply and pressurizing your base. Later the goal is to construct vehicles, weapons, and tradable commodities with other players. Of course, other players could also just as easily kill you and take your stuff, so survival is everything in this game. It does not take much to break into a habitat, so players are constantly paranoid and desperate.
Darewise definitely has a great deal of ambition with the title. They described the game as being one in which “Mars would be the main character,” which is definitely poetic. However, what was shown at PAX was clearly very rough and mostly unfinished, which is not surprising since the game has yet to make it through Kickstarter. Multiplayer did not yet exist in any state, and features such as weather cycles, pressure physics for the oxygen in your habitat, and even a health bar were not yet ready. The user interface was also still placeholder, as were most assets, even those that seemed largely complete and still looked good in this early state, such as the massive Martian world.
Even with just a quick demo, ROKH showed promise. There was an eerie quiet to the Martian landscape, this is definitely not the ’70s disco adventure that Matt Damon and The Martian promised. ROKH takes into account the limited gravity of Mars, meaning that careening down a valley is actually a great deal of fun… until you find yourself hopelessly separated from your base and doomed to starve. Well, you’ll suffocate before you starve, as Mars is a cruel mistress. Once features like customizing your abode, growing plants, and defending your position are added, ROKH could be one of the best upcoming games in the persistent survival genre.
Fortunately, the developers are taking their time, and ROKH has months of work before it hits Steam Early Access in September. The Kickstarter campaign launches May 5, with the devs hoping for plenty of fan feedback to get the game where it needs to be. Darewise are not relying on Kickstarter money alone, as they have already managed to secure their own funding. These are people who know how to make great video games, so hopefully they can put their vision together and creature something unique.