Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Kill Them All!!!: Orcs Must Die! Review

The title says it all- Orcs Must Die! Plain and simple! Rock gives his orc-slaying skills a try, and finds loads of gruesome fun!  Read on for more!

I was surprised that I liked Orcs Must Die! Surprised because I usually don't like cartoonish visuals.  Because I'm terrible at strategy-type games.  Because because because...Orcs Must Die! couldn't have been more off my radar.  That all changed when our good buddy D. Bethel wrote his first Trials by Fire article, wherein he called it 'a thrilling and fun game of mousetrap'. And  I couldn't agree more.

Come right in, friends!

Orcs Must Die! starts out like many other tower defense games:  You choose from and ever-expanding list of traps, place them strategically on the battlefield, then wait for the waves orc hordes to come rushing in.  One interesting twist, however, is that your character, the battlemage, is right down on the field as well, helping to fight back the orcs with weapons, spells or a delicious combination of the two. I really enjoyed this approach to tower defense because for me, the biggest gripe I've had with those types of games is that I've always felt very removed from the action.  By placing the battlemage right on the front lines, it definitely give the player a much greater feeling of control, as well as upping the excitement by putting them smack-dab in the middle of the conflict. This puts you in the position of being able to see your traps work in all their bloody glory!

You serve as your own last line of defense

Speaking of traps,  never have I seen such masterful mechanical evisceration!  From simple spike traps to spinning-blade monstrosities,  almost every trap you'll unlock provides an amusing challenge as you try to figure out where to place it in order to cause the maximum amount of orc death. The levels help keep the action interesting by always adding a new twist that will always keep you on your toes. Exploring a new level trying to find new deadly ways of slaughtering orcs is always a fun experiment, and watching your strategy pay off with gruesome orcish dismemberment never ceases to satisfy! Watching the money pour in as orcs are spiked, filled with arrows, launched into the air, and mutilated in numerous other ways provides a tremendous thrill.

Spinning blades of destruction!

The cartoonish, slightly exaggerated  art style really didn't put me off as much as I expected.  It's definitely not as ridiculous-looking as something like World of Warcraft, and I found that the aesthetic fit right in with the over the top premise.  There's a small amount of storytelling here, nothing earth-shattering, but it's amusing.  Really, the story could probably be cut right out and the game would be none the worse.  The interface is clean and intuitive, and it does nothing to get in the player's way.

Some baddies require all of your craftiness to bring them down

The only complaint I really have is with the Weavers.  About a third through the game,  you're given access the the Weavers, which basically function as two separate skill trees.  They add interesting bonuses, such as traps generating more money when they kill orcs, or making magic do more damage.  There are three problems here, though: One is that the skills are bought using the same coin you use to buy traps.  This is a problem because I found that I barely had enough money to purchase sufficient traps, leaving precious little left over for Weaver skills.  Second, players are locked into their skill tree choice, meaning you must choose to enhance either magic OR traps.  Finally,  skill tree decisions are erased at the end of every level, almost totally eliminating the sense of character progression.  In the end, I end up rarely purchasing anything from the Weavers, and I seem to get by well enough without them.

Get creative and use the environment to your advantage

Orcs Must Die! is an immensely intriguing game.  Seamlessly blending tower defense with third person action, with a splash of real-time strategy thrown in, OMD provides a phenomenal experience, and at the great low price of only $14.99, it's an excellent value.  Jump in and have a blast coming up with new ways to tear the orcs to pieces!

Verdict- 4/5

     Rock feels bad for all the orcish orphans he's left in the world....


  1. I'm glad the game was as much fun as the demo. The one thing I wondered about is the length of the game. Do you feel you bought what amounts to a full game, or does it go by rather quickly and leave you wanting more. Great review! I'm glad my silly column inspired someone to go play a game they would otherwise have missed.

  2. The game definitely has legs! I'd say you could probably get anywhere between 6-8 hours out of it on your first run, then you always have the chance to go back and try to beat your old scores for better upgrades, so there's a good bit of replay value there as well!

  3. This seems a little like Brutal Legend with traps...hmmmmm

  4. I really don't know, I never played Brutal Legend. What provokes the comparison?

  5. Both games seem to try to take somewhat tired genres (RTS and Tower Defense) and try to make them more modern by having you control a 3rd-person character on the battlefield. In Brutal Legend, you have a radial menu of typical RTS troops, and can hover above the field with your demon wings. In addition, you can drop down to the ground level, and hack and slash the guys with typical "character action" type mechanics.

    It didn't quite do it all great, but Brutal Legend is a fantastic game that deserves far more praise than it got. Not to mention you can buy it for less than $5 at several retail outlets.

  6. The things I liked about Brutal Legend had nothing to do with actually playing it, honestly.

    Orcs Must Die is a legitimately good game, though, for what it is. Playing it is the appeal.