Sometimes when you look at a movie you think to yourself “could I do that if it were real?” Case in point: The Martian. It’s a couple years old but it’s still a good film, featuring Matt Damon as an abandoned astronaut on Mars trying to survive until they can save him. I don’t have the technical know-how to even get to Mars in the future, so I let games do the dreaming for me as I try to do this very thing in ROKH.
ROKH has actually been out for a while in beta and early access forms, but a couple weeks ago it finally was released on Steam in its full version. The game revolves around you being an astronaut sometime in the future being placed on Mars with the goal of creating a sustainable habitat for yourself and essentially colonize the planet enough so you can survive. You start the game off with some essentials like drinking water, batteries, seeds, and a few other items to help power the mediocre research facility station you currently live on.
As you make your way around you’ll see the game basically leaves everything up to you, including the ability to screw up and die. Just like on Earth, you need the basics to survive: food, water, and air. Obviously, you need to hunt down water, and when you do you can use the seeds to plant food to grow. But after that, it is up to you to build a structure and other necessities to keep breathing and live somewhat comfortably. You can’t live in the suit forever without it eventually running out of oxygen, especially if you don’t keep it powered.
You’ll use your tools to go collect samples from rocks and craft your needs out, as well as find other resources scattered about in small capsules that you’ll discovered across the vast open area. Some have random bits of junk in them, others have vital items that are essential for you to create certain things. An item you’ll be looking at a lot is ice, from which you’ll get your drinking water. It becomes a trial of patience to get items you need in order to build bigger items like walls and vehicles and solar panels. Once you achieve them, you’ll feel great satisfaction—until you need to do it again for something else.
One of the biggest annoyances you’ll need to overcome is the environment and not just the lack of air, but dust storms and large cliffs that can cause damage to you or even kill you if you’re not careful. Another is that you have to click a button of a keystroke for every action, you can’t just hold down the left mouse button and swing the pickax at a rock until it breaks. I get that it is a survival game and that I have to deal with harsh conditions and somewhat real expectations when it comes to doing what I need to do. But come on! Make just a little bit of this streamlined so I’m not spending two hours hacking away at every hunk of rock stuck in the ground.
ROKH is a pretty decent survival game that allows you to live out your greatest sci-fi fantasies on a planet with no one around. But compared to other survival games, it does get a little boring at times as you’re waiting for things to happen. That doesn’t make it a bad game, but it is definitely one where if you don’t have the time and patience to deal with certain things, you’ll end up quitting very quickly. This is for the hardcore survival player who likes a good challenge.
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