Rock of Ages 3: Make & Break
Developed By : ACE Team, Giant Monkey Robot
Published By : Modus Games
Category : Strategy, Action
Release Date : July 21, 2020
As someone who has played the last two Rock of Ages games, I never felt like the series needed a third entry. Not that the previous games were bad, but it seemed like there wasn’t much left that could be done with the series’ oddball theme. Rock of Ages 3: Make & Break does try to stretch the ball rolling concept as far as it can go, but ultimately fails to improve upon its predecessor. It’s also yet another poor port for the Nintendo Switch.
Rock of Ages 3 is yet another goofy take on history, this time starring Greek hero Odysseus’ lesser known sidekick Elpenor. After Odysseus is involved in an unfortunate boulder related incident, Elpenor is cursed, sending him throughout the ages to fight various historical figures. The series has never taken itself too seriously, and that hasn’t changed here. Nothing overly memorable, though the story does a decent enough job at giving context to each level. However, it could get annoying if you’re not a fan of the game’s style of comedy, as it never changes throughout the story.
Gameplay in Rock of Ages 3 is split into two main styles: rolling and building. There are a bunch of level types, but they’ll all have you doing one (or both) of these things in some way. War is the main game mode, being a strange mix of the Super Monkey Ball rolling gameplay, and defence building in a similar vein to tower defence games. You’ll build various traps, walls, and other obstacles to stop the enemy boulder, while also rolling yours towards the enemy’s base.
In that sense, not a whole lot has changed from previous entries. Controlling your boulder, and whatever other type of object you may end up using, is cumbersome by design. Moving quickly will let you do more damage, but it makes turning difficult. Slowing down isn’t exactly easy either, as your boulder decelerates like… well, like a rolling boulder. This is something you’ll have to get used to from the start, and the game’s tutorials don’t do the best job at easing you into this weird style of gameplay. Not exactly a problem for anyone familiar with the series, but newcomers might have a hard time enjoying the intentionally annoying movement physics.
The building side of the game is far easier to understand, though this is more due to its simplicity. Choosing from a handful of traps and building, you place them across your lane to try and impede the enemy boulder’s progress. Some traps can be used to damage the boulder, making it do less maximum damage if it does reach your base, and others have the potential to knock the boulder off the lane’s edge, preventing all damage for that attempt. There is a little strategy when it comes to picking the right objects, though this side of the game never feels as exciting as rolling your boulder around at high speeds.
As mentioned earlier, the other modes in Rock of Ages 3 all make use of at least one of these gameplay styles. Some levels will have you racing your boulder against opponents, while others lean heavily into tower defence gameplay, as you take down waves of enemy boulders. The best levels are brief, letting you have a quick burst of fun without dragging on for too long. Honestly, that’s the game’s biggest problem; There’s not a whole lot of variety, and the main war levels end up being the longest by far. It means that you’ll probably have had enough of Rock of Ages 3 by the story’s end (if you even make it that far), before even touching the user created content.
User created content is a big part of Rock of Ages 3, as proven by the “Make & Break” subtitle. Making levels is easy enough using the level creator, with it taking no time at all to draw a lane with a few obstacles here and there. The problem is that there’s only so much that can be done with this creator, something that is proven by the main story mode. Despite the level creator having noticeable effort put into it, fatigue with the core gameplay gave me little motivation to try any of the community’s creation.
And now we get to the game’s most egregious flaw: The Switch version is not designed for portable play at all. This is something that is still unfortunately common in Switch games, even after more than three years, and it’s especially bad here. The text is absolutely tiny no matter what you’re doing, and many menu options are overly small as well. Obviously, this isn’t a massive problem when playing docked, but the Switch’s biggest advantage over other consoles is its portability. At least performance isn’t the worst I’ve seen from a port, even if there are noticeable fps drops sometimes.
Rock of Ages 3: Make & Break does little to convince me that a third game in the series was necessary. A decent level editor isn’t enough when you’ll likely be done playing after the relatively short main story. Add in the tiny text that makes portable gameplay less enjoyable, and you have a forgettable game even for fans of the series.
Rock of Ages 3: Make & Break
*The Switch Effect was provided a code for this game*