Rock of Ages 2 features hilarious cutscenes and inventive gameplay which will help the player overlook small graphical glitches and the short single player campaign.
Rock of Ages 2 doesn’t really take time to establish much of a story, because, well – it doesn’t need one. Basically, you are Atlas. Your job is to hold up the Earth, but one day you slip, letting the Earth roll away. Atlas finds a boulder and then proceeds to drop down to Earth to – reclaim it? I’m not sure why he goes to Earth or why he fights with the various characters that he does. But that doesn’t matter – what matters is that it is hilarious and gives us a reason to cause chaos.
The gameplay in Rock of Ages 2 is a combination of tower defense and physics based rolling. You begin in a world map consisting of 15 levels, some of which you can reach immediately and some which you will have to pass through gates to reach. Each level begins with a charming Monty Python-ish cutscene which introduces you to the overlord of that area. Atlas has no reason for fighting any of these characters, it is just a fun way to introduce the level and help the player laugh as he takes down iconic historical figures such as Henry VIII, Vincent Van Gogh, William Wallace, and some mystical creatures like The Scream, and a Burning Giraffe.
After the introduction cutscene you are allowed to choose your level load out. Here you can choose which boulder to begin with – each with their own attributes determining strength, speed, time to create, damage, etc. – and which defenses you want. You begin with only a few unlocked slots and items to choose from, but you gain a new boulder after every level beaten and find new defensive items as you roll around the overworld map.
Once you’ve chosen your load out the match begins. You view the level from overhead and must wait for your boulder to be created, which changes based on the type of boulder you choose. While you wait you must set defenses to prevent the other side’s boulder from reaching your castle gate – or at least prevent it from attacking your gate with full damage.
Strategy goes a long way here as you can set up spring boards to throw boulders, cows to slow them down, walls, cannons, and trebuchets to damage them, etc. All the various defenses serve a purpose and the terrain and layout of the level usually determines which defenses will work best, although players are free to use whatever items they are most comfortable with. Your goal should never be to destroy the enemy’s boulder, as that will rarely happen. Instead, you should focus on slowing their boulder down. It normally takes three good hits to take out a gate, but can take 4 or 5 if you deal enough damage to the boulder during the level.
Once your rock is carved then you can launch it at any time. You control your rock and the game switches to a third person view as you struggle to roll past the enemy’s barricades, which increase with each turn, and make it to their gate in one piece. This part is physics based and does require a bit of restraint. If you choose to speed through a level you are almost always going to end up falling off the cliff or running directly into a trap.
Each level awards two stars. One for completing the level itself, and then another if you choose to replay the level in obstacle course form. There are three star gates on the world map, requiring 5, 10, and 15 stars each to reach bosses. There are 33 stars available in the game, if you complete all levels and bosses.
The bosses play more like mini strategy/platforming hybrids usually requiring you to figure out the best way to hit the boss while avoiding increasing obstacles. These are fun distractions from the main gameplay, but are all rather short.
The game does have one of the most unique final boss fights I’ve ever participated in. But I’ll leave that to the player to discover on their own.
That is essentially the game. Some levels are harder than others and require precision jumping, while some are rather straight forward. There are options to make extra money to set up more defenses, but to do so will almost always involve using a defensive slot. So it becomes a matter of whether or not you can function without the extra defensive items.
Length and Replayability:
Rock of Ages 2 is short. Playing through the main story will take about four hours at best, maybe 6 if you decide to go for all of the stars. Thankfully, the game does have an online feature to increase replayability.
Online allows players to either host a match or to find a match, with each match requiring 2 to 4 players. You can choose from all 15 arenas and a variety of match styles, including War, Obstacle Courses, or Skee-Boulder.
How long the online portion keeps you occupied entirely depends on whether the gameplay itself remains fun to you despite running through essentially the same levels repeatedly. I’d wager that many will enjoy the gameplay enough to at least put a few hours into the online portion.
Rock of Ages 2 surprised me. I had never heard of the series and had no idea what I was getting into before I began playing. I laughed and got frustrated in equal turn throughout my 5 or so hours of playtime. The levels remained inventive and the ever increasing boulder roaster and defensive items kept me fighting to unlock the next batch. While I don’t feel much incentive to replay the game now that I’ve completed it, I did enjoy my time with it and would recommend others to try it out if they enjoy tower defense style games or just want a non-traditional video game experience.
Rock of Ages 2 is available now on the Nintendo Switch, PC, Xbox One, and the PS4 for an MSRP of $19.99. A review code for the Nintendo Switch was provided by Ace Team and Atlus for the purposes of this review.