No prizes for guessing what you’ll spend your time doing in Slap the Rocks, the latest game from publishers Eastasiasoft and Ratalaika Games.
If you guessed slapping rocks, well, you got it in one. Across thirty levels, you’ll be pushing rocks into holes to create paths that will lead you to treasure. It’s a simple premise, and one that admittedly doesn’t provoke excitement and intrigue. Does pushing rocks around sound fun to you?
Still, they say you should never judge a book by its cover. We’ve seen countless times where a game takes an idea, runs with it and produces something that’s actually pretty entertaining. After playing Slap the Rocks though, I can safely assure you that this is not one of those times. In fact, the only thing this game has going for it is an accurate title.
The issue isn’t the simple premise. It’s that it’s never built upon. You’ll be pushing rocks into holes for thirty levels and not much else. There are a few times where you’ll need to deal with decoy chests (which annoyingly reset the level if you open them), hidden rocks and branching pathways, but they do nothing to prevent Slap the Rocks from becoming played out within twenty minutes.
Another result of this lack of depth is that the game ends up being much too simple. Apart from a few sections that may take a couple of tries, Slap the Rocks doesn’t put up much of a fight. And as if it couldn’t get any easier, the game hands out checkpoints like they’re going out of fashion. You could make the argument that the game is meant to be a casual one, but that isn’t an excuse to have a puzzle game that isn’t challenging by any stretch of the imagination.
Pair the simplicity with the fact that there are only thirty levels, and you have a game that will only take you about an hour to finish. At £4.19, it seems like particularly poor value, even more so when you consider the complete lack of replayability too.
Meanwhile, the controls are absolutely terrible. The game feels clunky, and there seems to be a delay to your inputs. It’s not the end of the world as you can’t die, but it does end up becoming really annoying the further into it you get.
Things get a little better with the presentation. Slap the Rocks opts for the tried and tested pixel art that has become a staple of the modern indie developer. And it’s done quite well here, with the three world environments – forest, desert and tundra – offering a nice background for your rock-slapping shenanigans. Ultimately though, it’s nothing you haven’t seen before, and nothing to really write home about.
Eastasiasoft and Ratalaika are two of those publishers that have become infamous for dishing out some of the easiest completions going, and they’re in fine form again with Slap the Rocks. While the game has thirty levels, you’ll only need to beat less than half of them for the full 1000. In fact, level select is unlocked right away, so you can completely skip the levels that won’t reward you with Gamerscore if you like.
Unfortunately, those easy achievements are the only real positive about the game. Because overall, Slap the Rocks feels like a case of squandered potential. Thirty levels should have been more than enough to experiment with some interesting mechanics and offer up some truly challenging puzzles. Instead, we have a game that is overly repetitive, overly simplistic and much too short. Look elsewhere. Slap the Rocks can kick rocks.
You can Slap the Rocks over at the Xbox Store