Rktcr (pronounced like rocket car) is the first game released by TCHOW, a one man development team. It’s best described as a tool-assisted speed running game, where the game gives you control of time to adjust as you play to complete levels, allowing you to carefully find the perfect path through the level. I’m going to be up front about this game, it is frustrating. The Steam page for the game doesn’t hide the fact that this game can be incredibly difficult and annoying to particular players.
I would feel comfortable saying that this game is only going to be enjoyable for a certain type of person. If you are one to enjoy games such as “I wanna be the guy”, then you might want to look at Rktcr however while it does share the same 2D perspective, it is a slower paced game. As the name might suggest, you take control of a rocket car. The up and down arrow keys provide directional thrust to one of the wheels, while the left and right cause the other wheel to rotate allowing you to shape the direction.
Time is controlled by you, so you can hold down the suitable keys to and plan where you want to go before progressing time. On that same token you can just as simply reverse time to try again. You are given a short insight into the future of the predicted path that your vehicle will take, which is updated in real-time. The bulk of the gameplay is rewinding and forwarding time to get the perfect path.
Now, back onto the difficultly because I can’t help but go on a little rant. The game suggests that you carry out a collection of challenges before you begin the main mission but honestly I couldn’t complete them all. I was banging my head against this game for a good few hours without making any significant progress. Rktcr provides a tutorial that simply doesn’t contain anywhere near the skills you need to complete parts of this game. Some of the tutorials honestly feels like being dropped in the deep end of the pool, at age 3 while still expected to beat Michael Phelps in a race.
That last one might’ve been something of an exaggeration, but the game is difficult and there is nothing inside the game to ease you through learning the mechanics. There is however a collection of ten videos on the creator’s YouTube page that explains everything perfectly. I don’t understand why these videos aren’t in the game somewhere, I was honestly baffled when I found the videos during my research that there were no links in the game. My number one annoyance with the game is that it doesn’t suitable teach you the basic skills and here is a collection of videos that perfectly solve that issue!
After giving up with all the challenges, I moved onto attempting the main game. You progress through a collection of screens, connected by portals to try and collected a set number of stars. All the screens are connected but when you come back through another portal you’re facing the room from a different perspective. So you can play a same screen from multiple perspectives that changes the challenge.
There is also a clever little mechanic where once you complete a screen, you can automatically complete that screen from the same angle every time. Each time you complete a screen it saves the path you took, so if you took a path that managed to get the gem or one that went to a different portal, it’s simple to get to different areas. I was delightfully surprised to find this, because it is something that stops additional frustration from having to repeat the same things over and over.
Rktcr slowly induces more obstacles which do add challenge or just as much frustration to areas. There are explosive orbs that will apply a large amount of force to your vehicle, which requires some finesse to ensure you’re being thrown in the right direction. Movable objects that topple when collided with often lead to the player being stuck under a pile of blocks, it’s difficult to predict how the objects will fall. The most complex mechanic is something the game calls “disruptables” where there are objects that can be hit by one of your two wheels, while the other would phase through. It’s interesting but when the gem can only interact with one wheel and you end up knocking it aside instead of collecting it, it means you have to reverse time far back and find a way to flip your wheels.
Story wise, the game has an incredibly loose and confusing plot. You get the chance to name three people and your team before a brief cut scene takes place. The focus of this game isn’t the plot, so the fact it has any is a bonus. The weird part for me is that when you are choosing a team name, it changes how many collectibles you need to complete each level. So there are ways of making things easier.
Visually the game looks pleasing, there is a good use of particle effects for the thrust of the rockets and the sort. I actually want to draw attention to the opening titles because the effects are used to good effect. Rktcr also has a strong soundtrack, if that is something you look for with your frustrating games.
In conclusion, Rktcr is a hard game. A super hard game that rewards players who can fully grasp the games controls and mechanics. An issue being that to get decent at this game, it requires so much trial and error. Too much for me personally, but that doesn’t take anything away from the game. You will either get behind this game or be broken down to tears, which is honestly the best recommendation I can give.
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