ROKH Early Access Preview
Reviewed by Didi Cardoso
Review Date Platform Genre Rating Production
2017-08-08 PC MMO M (Mature) http://store.steampowered.com/app/462440/ROKH/

I had seen information about Rokh a few times in my inbox, but as I am still playing ARK (I know, after two years... still surviving!), I wasn't too sure I wanted to embark on another survival adventure.

Well, the last email with the cool trailer did it for me. So this is how I found myself in another Steam Early Access experience, without a clue regarding what I was doing. The goal was clear: survive. The question was, how?

After landing on Mars, your task is to find out what happened to the previous colonies and the people that were sent down to attempt to terraform the planet. While exploring to find clues, you will have to keep a close eye on your basic needs: food, water and oxygen. Your suit's HUD will show you how low you are and you will also receive alerts for when your meters start to go down.

You also need to pay attention to power and radiation. Power comes from the battery on your suit, which can be recharged at stations. Radiation is obviously a problem if it gets too high, and for the first two hours of my game I couldn't figure out how to lower that. As it turned out, the radiation shields in my inventory were consumables... I'd never have guessed that, I thought they were building parts.

I also tried to figure out what my tools do and how to craft things. Things weren't as intuitive as I thought, and the interface is still pretty awkward to me. To craft something, I need to equip the tool on the tool belt (drag it to one of the hot key slots), then equip it by pressing whatever number it corresponds to, and click the left mouse button to bring up the respective tool menu and recipes. It turns out that different tools have different menus. I'm ashamed to say I had to look this up on the almighty Google, since I'd never have guessed that either...

The crafting menu annoyed me to no end for quite a while, until I figured out how it worked. You have your tools on the left, the recipe required ingreients in the center, and your inventory on the right. My logic was that if I had the items in the backpack, I could click craft and it would make the item for me. Right? Wrong. I had to physically click and drag the items from the backpack to the spot in the recipe. Then click the "Craft" button. Once I learned that, it was not so bad.

All this going back and forth between tools to check what each does, equipping them on the tool belt to use them, and looking up the ingredients for each item is really frustrating, and it turns crafting into a time-consuming process. I'm really hoping the crafting system gets a makeover to become more user-friendly in the future.

Eventually I made some tiles, which are the building blocks for your future settlements. But it was around this time that I started to worry about my oxygen, good and water levels, so I went off looking for resources. I found resource nodes with materials used to craft parts of tools and tiles, but also water nodes (I assume they should be renamed ice), which I mined, but can't drink. I was starting to freak out about food but found some abandoned settlements and supply crates with food and water. My next problem was how to eat and drink... I had to equip the consumables on the tool belt and use them that way. Why couldn't we just eat them out of the inventory, or have an extra two slots specifically for these?

It was also while exploring that I found old settlements with a few data stations with some more details about the story. So I have learned that there is a way to turn that water I harvested into drinkable water. Now my problem is... HOW?! Obviously there will be a filtering station of some kind, but how do I make it? Where do I get the recipe to make it?

And why we can't just use the structures that are already there and improve upon them? So I grabbed my tiles out of the inventory, put them on the tool belt, and hoped for the best. But I couldn't figure out how to place my own tiles. For the longest time all I could see was a red highlighted tile in front of me, regardless of how I flipped or rotated it. Unlike ARK foundations, these weren't just snapping to the ground for me to make a floor... until I strafed and went slightly down a slope and the tile outline magically turned green! It turns out that I needed to look down more for it to go flat across the ground. I felt really dumb when I finally placed my first few floor tiles and a partial wall. To my surprise, one tile - which takes a lot of materials to make - is basically one square foot. The ratio just seems odd. I guess I'm going to need to mine a lot of stuff!

In my travels, I endured sandstorms, almost fell off really tall cliffs, nearly froze to death and dodged an insane number of meteorite showers. And as it is expected from Early Access, also endured a number of freezes, crashes, errors and server time-outs.

Magically, I was still alive after two hours. However, I got completely lost. I had no idea where my partial shelter was since I ran off looking for more materials, and hell if I know the location of that awesome chest full of goodies that I found just before I had a fatal exception crash... I came back to find myself under the world and since I basically walked out of the side of a mountain through literally mid-air, I have no idea where I ended up.

On my second attempt, my initial server was no longer on the list, so I started again from scratch. This time, I wasn't so fortunate finding supplies, but I somehow had new tools and recipes in the crafting menus that allowed me to build more, but also get even more frustrated with the process. I did get a partial shelter once again, with a door and a chest to place my things in. But then I was forced to watch my character slowly suffocate as I ran out of oxygen.

Oh, the wonders of survival, where the smallest thing can be beyond hindering. I found myself once with a broken hammer and no parts to fix it, but I also couldn't craft said parts because the hammer was broken... scavenging was my only solution then so I spent a lot of time roaming around.

I have to say I was quite fascinated by the landscape and really into the environment and sounds. It is a unique setting, and certainly not the type I would usually play. Coming from an overpopulated server in ARK where I've had a stable virtual life for a long time to the bare grounds of an empty Rokh server is both strange and refreshing for me. The initial moments of panic of not knowing what to do or where to go are always the best, especially in an alien harsh environment without breathable air.

I'll eventually start another character, yet again, but I'm going to give Rokh some time to improve before I do so. And at least for next time, I'll have a little bit more knowledge to help me get by, won't waste as many resources, and I will remember to keep spare parts in my inventory in case my tools break!

Watch more gameplay footage of ROKH in the playlist below: