A few days ago, I have received a copy of “Orcs Must Die!” for a review. It was the perfect time to get such a game – I have been programming for 16+ hours a day for 4 days before that, so a break was just what I needed.
Orcs Must Die! (from now on, I’m going to call it OMD) is a big game – it offers 24 levels, 19 different traps, along with 6 different weapons (technically only 2 weapons, the rest is magic), and of course – hordes of enemies!
In OMD your goal is to kill enemies – kill them as quickly or as slowly as you want, by using magic, weapons and traps. It’s a game that will make your tactical creativity flow free!
As I mentioned in the introduction – your main goal is to kill orcs. The first levels are easy and can even seem too easy, because basically you won’t have to do anything in them – just place a few traps and shoot 2 orcs which somehow manage to get passed the traps. On the other hand, there aren’t much traps unlocked at that point. As you advance trough the levels, they will become harder and harder, both by structure, enemy types and enemy count. However, along with all these perks to harden your gameplay, you will receive a few things that will make your gameplay easier and inject more fun into every level. With each new level, you will receive a new magic, a new trap, the ability to upgrade your traps, character or magic by using the help of “weavers” and skulls. Skulls can be used to upgrade your traps, and the better you can kill orcs, the more skulls you will receive.
Environment in OMD is both repetitive and not. Every level is different, but the textures are pretty much the same, so I guess it depends how you’ll look at it. For me, it wasn’t repetitive at all, because in OMD you can exploit every level in many different ways: you can place a bunch of lava pits or riddle the floor with spike traps, place a lot of archers or place tens of spring-traps and watch the orcs flying into acid rivers or lava pits! There’s so much you can do in every level, that it’s almost impossible for them to get repetitive. Unless of course, you won’t pay attention to the orcs and instead look at how pretty everything looks, however I don’t think that you will have time for that, as in OMD the action is always on! There are even portals to help you navigate the map, so think about how intense the action can be at times!
OMD offers kind of unusual type of graphics – it’s not realistic, instead it’s kind of animated. It fits the playstyle well, as OMD is very funny and rather not serious, so I can’t complain.
Speaking of fun and pretty looks, OMD offers one more very cool feature – in some levels (especially the latter ones), there will be certain objects that will help you to defeat the enemies: sealing lamps that you can drop on orc heads, hot oil that will melt the orcs when you spill it on their heads, and of course my favorite – big trees rolling down the stairs, which will take out 20 of those fatsos trying to get to the core of your fortress.
OMD has a TON of features. As I mentioned in the introduction, it offers a lot of traps, spells and two weapons, as well as something called “weavers”. Weavers are upgrades to your spells, traps, weapons, character and fortress. You can choose one of three types in every level, and you will unlock all of them when advancing in the campaign. In fact, you will unlock something in each level, although most of time it will be a new trap. The most fun part of placing traps is that you can combine them! For example, in the beginning,you probably won’t use the slowing trap much, but when you later acquire some other kinds of traps, they will become extremely useful! To spice up your imagination, let me give you a few examples of what traps we are talking about: blades from the walls swinging at the enemies, a big mace swinging from the sealing, traps that lift enemies up into the air and even magic mushrooms that will make enemies join your cause! Each one of these traps can also be upgraded once, some of the upgrades will make the trap cheaper, while some other upgrades will add additional features, like stun for example. You can also sell the traps for the same price as you bought them when playing a level, which is very cool. As for your own protection, you will always have to carry a crossbow, it is your main weapon. As you progress trough the campaign, you will unlock other weapons (magics should be the correct way to call them, but it sounds stupid): frost magic (shoot five freezing ice bolts or freeze everyone around you), fire magic (shoot a fireball or make a firewall), lightning magic (make a cloud of lightning that strikes enemies going trough it or hit enemies with chain lightning) and wind magic (push enemies away or pick enemies up and trow them to acid pits or lava). All of these weapons will add so much more fun to your gameplay, especially just after discovering them! In my opinion, the best one is the lightning magic, as it hits multiple enemies, however you will get that ability in the very end of the campaign. But not too worry, OMD is very replayable!
OMD is replayable because it has scoreboards, just like Xotic. Although Xotic’s scoreboards are better, as they allow you to look at what the players did to get ahead of you, while in OMD you can look only who is first and who is second. You will get more score for killstreaks or combos, just like in Xotic, except here you will have to kill enemies instead of shooting static objects.
I didn’t expect that OMD will have a storyline before playing it, I rather expected something like from Xotic – a background story just to make the game not look like it has completely no storyline. However when I installed it and saw the first cutscene, I knew that OMD has something good to offer! Funny games are a cliché nowadays, and most of them offer something not worth talking about, however OMD offers something different. In OMD, you are a loser apprentice, that was unable to learn anything from his master who died under funny circumstances (won’t spoil the fun!), and it turns out that you are the only one left to defend the rift. Basically you shine of idiocy, you don’t know words, can’t form good sentences, misunderstand everything… Basically you are a dumb pretty boy. It reminds of me Kelly from “Married with children” (and old, but funny show). So basically this dumb boy who thinks he’s the prettiest and the smartest in the whole wide world, will defend the world. Ironic, isn’t it?
OMD offers very detailed graphics, although with it comes the resource usage. OMD heats up my VGA to 100 Celsius in around 2-5 minutes when my room’s temperature is around 20 Celsius, and that is only when I choose 2x MSAA filtering (you can choose up to 16x MSAA, although my VGA isn’t good enough for that). I guess that is a problem only with older VGAs, so if you have a newer one and are able to play titles like Crysis or Serious Sam HD without having any trouble with your VGA over-heating, you don’t have to worry about it, you can instead enjoy the best that OMD has to offer in graphics section.
While OMD offers pretty graphics, it features a mixed sound quality. OMD features a great soundtrack, which in my opinion fits perfectly with the game style and game events, as well as great environmental sounds, however it offers poor voice normalization, as well as one little coding flaw. Voice acting is good in itself, but it is implemented very poorly, it almost seems like the developers ran out of time and pushed OMD for the release date, while the part that was being squeezed was audio. The character says his thoughts in the beginning of some levels, but he also talks when you are doing certain things – casting spells, placing traps, etc.. If you place traps while he is talking about the storyline, he will be saying those phrases along with what he says when you’re placing traps, so either he’s got two mouths, or he is very talented speaker! On the other hand, there could be a simpler explanation, like a lack of one “if” statement in the code. Another thing about voice acting is that the volume is very different at times: when you are placing traps, the character talks louder, but when he actually talks in the middle of the annihilation of orcs (parts of the storyline), he talks silently and you can’t hear a thing!
I have also mentioned a small code flaw. That flaw is code saying this: “when player goes to the left, focus on the left sound channel, when the player goes to the right, focus on the right sound channel”, which is really stupid logic! Basically the surround sound implementation sucks in OMD.
OMD, like Xotic was at the time I reviewed it, still isn’t released. It will be available for purchase only on October 12th on Steam. That being said, I have found a few things that might or might not be changed in the future.
- The movement of the enemies is very waypoint-oriented, however in my opinion it fits the game. Although sometimes the enemies go two extra meters to the side only to go back, so the waypoint system still needs some work.
- Before you start the level, you can pick the traps and weapons you want to use in the level, so if you pick a new trap just to see how it works and build it – even if you sell it afterwards, you are not able to re-pick the traps and you have to restart the level.
- If you re-cast the spells that give a certain effect (For example, freezes your enemies), the effect is not re-applied, it’s just a pointless cast, apart from the damage.
- Sound is playing in the background when you minimize the game.
- In case you barricaded your way and the enemy needs to go around to get to your base, he still goes back to the barricade to “make sure” that the barricade is there. This is poor A.I. we are talking about, and in this particular case – poor game logic.
I will be editing this review, if Robot Entertainment will fix any flaws I mentioned in my review, as I want the readers to stay up-to-date and not get a wrong impression about the game. Every game has flaws in pre-release stage.
OMD is an extremely fun game to play, and it is perfect after a hard workday, same as Xotic is, however it contains a few flaws with the audio, A.I., and other things. Other than that, OMD contains a lot of features, offers good graphics, good soundtrack, fun gameplay, replayability… Basically there is nothing that I could complain about, except of course the flaws I mentioned above. So if you want to kill hordes of orcs in tens of different ways, Orcs Must Die! is your game!
If you have any questions, feel free to ask, I’ve completed the game yesterday, so I know a few things about it. Although before asking, I suggest reading the game manual.