In Rock of Ages 3: Make & Break, you spend most of your time as a boulder or vaguely boulder-shaped object, the latter of which includes – but isn’t limited to – an entire flock of sheep tied together into a sphere, a giant cheese wheel, a literal egg, and more.
At its core, Rock of Ages 3 is extremely silly and incredibly fun. The game is separated into two modes: Make and Break. In Break, you can play either in Story mode or test your skills by crushing some community-created levels online. Both will see you take control of your boulder or vaguely boulder-shaped object, crashing through obstacle courses or setting up defences to stop enemy boulders from bashing your own front doors down. Make introduces the ability to design your own eclectic levels and share them for all the world to enjoy-slash-hate.
Break’s Story mode is broken down into sections that consist of multiple levels, including things like Skee Boulder, Obstacle Course, Unit Challenge, Time Trials, War, and Online. Completing levels will net you Stars, which you can use to unlock more levels, weapons, and other items. You can also acquire traps and weapons by finishing certain levels, which will help bolster your tower defence arsenal.
Skee Boulder is much like its real life counterpart, Skee-Ball, and sees you racing through an obstacle course against enemy boulders in order to be the first across the finish line and into the goal. Which goal you land in will affect how many points you rack up, so you’ll want to be speedy but precise in order to be top-rock. Obstacle Course is all in the name – avoid the obstacles and may the best boulder win.
Unit Challenge is a mash-up of both the Obstacle Course mode and real-time tower defence, where you have to balance setting up defences to stop enemy boulders from rolling into your own castle while also launching yourself at full-speed into the enemy’s doors. Time Trial is all in the name. War is essentially the boss level, where you’ll go to war against an enemy army using a mixture of in-game mechanics. Building, bashing, setting it up, smashing it down – War has it all.
When you’re not smashing your way to a concrete finish, you can undertake some far quirkier modes such as taking on the role of Humpty Dumpty and making mimsy through the borogoves – or, in non-Lewis-Carroll-speak, making your way through Wonderland-based levels without cracking Humpty’s shell – and just seeing how fast you can make your way through a level. If you’re looking for someone else to help rock your world, most levels can be played with up to 4 players online or in 2 player local co-op.
Make mode, meanwhile, isn’t all that it’s cracked up to be. While the idea of being able to create and upload your own levels is fun, the actual execution of the idea on Switch, at least, is difficult. It’s fiddly, the controls sometimes stop working and you won’t be able to navigate menus, you’ll have to zoom in way too far just to see what you’re doing, and the lack of touchscreen capability means that Rock of Ages 3 misses out on taking advantage of a feature that would have aided Make mode greatly.
Thankfully, Make mode on the PC is far more accessible than its Switch counterpart, thanks to the trusty keyboard and mouse combo. Unfortunately, it’s still plagued by the same under explained and unintuitive design that demands trial and error to struggle through. Despite the better input method, controls are far from perfect mostly due to irritatingly restrictive object placing and unclear terrain editing.
With only a smattering of players and press currently in the pre release build, the selection of community made levels is rather pitiful unfortunately. Many levels show the signs of struggle with the editor, wrestling to create a finished product let alone one that’s polished. Thankfully there are a handful of levels that show signs of greatness, promising thoughtfully designed levels and novel ideas upon release to a wider player base. We can’t wait to see what skilled fans will create.
Rock of Ages 3’s text size in the Switch port is also minuscule and incredibly difficult to read in both handheld and docked mode. There’s no option to adjust the text size so if you struggle with limited sight, the Switch port of the game may be a struggle for you. If you’re playing in Break’s Story mode, the game also has a tendency to crash if you try to skip an animatic prior to a level, and you’ll sometimes be respawned in a strange location on the course. However, these flaws weren’t enough to shatter my enjoyment of the game, as the level of utter and ridiculous fun that Rock of Ages 3 provides does manage to outweigh the Switch port’s bugs.
The music in each level is expertly crafted to match the heart-racing, blood-pumping, rock-and-rolling mood, with the soundtrack varying from classic music but with electric guitars to tunes that transport you to another time and place. Break mode also has some marvellously high definition environments and features. Rock of Ages 3 also completely nails the game’s chaotic mood and the absurdist humour seems like it would be perfectly at home in a Monty Python sketch.
In conclusion, Rock of Ages 3 is a delightfully witty and fast-paced game that’ll have you rocking and rolling all night. It’s hugely enjoyable regardless of whether you’re a Rock of Ages veteran or a newcomer to the series, the music and environments help boost the game’s zany atmosphere, and the nonsensical humour will crack a smile on anyone’s face. My only recommendation is that if you have the choice, you opt for any of Rock of Ages 3’s other versions instead of the rather buggy Nintendo Switch port.