At this years PAX East, there were, for me, two dueling space survival sandbox games.
While Astroneer has erred on the side of the bright, wide-eyed and inviting side of exploring, ROKH, being developed by Darewise Entertainment, takes the space exploration in a more realistic, complex and at times, terrifying direction.
Launching it’s Kickstarter today, Rokh is gritty, has its roots in realism and scientific anticipation, and lets you know Mars ain’t going to come easy….
ROKH is a futuristic survival game, deeply rooted in scientific and realistic anticipation, where players will have to work together to overcome the numerous threaths they will have to face on planet Mars.
Playing on persistent servers, you will experience a truly sandbox experience. No mission or quest here, define your own goals according to your own needs! And to succeed, find your own way to play with the many game systems available.
As a newcomer on ROKH and its Mars Colonization Program, you must find ways to survive by exploring Mars in your basic astronaut suit, looking for resources. Oxygen, food, water – all your life support systems will have to be cautiously managed.
At PAX East, we had the chance to tackle a demo where our goal was to investigate a derelict building, repair it, seal it, pressurize the interior and oxygenate it for future habitation.
The mere fact that oxygen and a pressurized environment was even a concern was a good indication to me of the direction Rokh was headed. This wasn’t going to be easy, which really makes sense, considering we are talking about colonizing Mars, which I don’t imagine would be easy so….
Movement felt a bit clunky, as did navigating the inventory interface. Placing wall tiles and electrical wires felts a little finiky, but no more so than Minecraft, Rust or Ark. Indeed, all the base building elements actually felt very good, and I could see all sorts of possibilities. I was already starting to imagine great spwraling exploration compounds on the surface of Mars, different sections separated by airlocks and reinforced walls as I suffocated to death, having failed to see one open section of wall preventing pressurization.
After the demo, Seven and I talked about our joint experience, and Seven brought up the issue of greifing, which is a given in an large scale sandbox game with multiplayer. His concern was that having to pressurize and oxygenate your environment, while cool and a deffinate plus in the realism column, was going to make it incredibly easy for a greifer to undo you work by simply removing a panel somewhere along the side of your building. He thought that this would force you to reinforce wall and make airlocks between rooms, which to him seemed like a burden. Yet, as correct as he is, as I though about this, it grew on me. Any base that NASA or any privately funded space mission might build on Mars in the future is undoubtedly going to have to have reinforced hulls and airlocks, so why shouldn’t Rokh?
This is where Rokh and Astroneer differ for me: Astroneer has latched on to the romantic side of space exploration, while Rokh has latched onto the realistic side.
Is one better than the other? Not at all, they simply are seeing the journey of mankind into space through two different lenses; one hopeful and defined by the simple joys of discovery, the other gritty and focused on the arduous triumph of man over a hostile environment.
Rokh is still very much in pre-alpha and a work in progress. As gorgeous as the environments and textures I saw in the PAX East Demo were (and they were gorgeous!), movment and mechanics felt like they were in an incredibly early stage; earlier than I would have preferred to see.
Rokh has fantastic bones, and I am eager to see them fleshed out, because I think there is a ton of promise in this game to be a hardcore space survival sim that a lot of people are going to love..
The Rokh Kickstarter began today, is on schedule to last 30 days and is asking for €100,000. If you’d like to take a look at the stretch goals and available support tiers, head to the Kickstarter page here.