When I first saw Orcs Must Die at PaxEast, the first thing that popped into my head was something along the lines of Diablo or Torchlight. When I actually got to play it, the game was something totally different. The game was created by an indie developer called Robot Entertainment. This group was founded in 2009 and is made up of former members of Ensemble Studios (Halo Wars) and several others who have worked on the Age of Empires series. They hope to take the experience they took from these games and create new original titles that no one has seen before.
As I said before this game while it looks like your typical dungeon crawler or swarm based action game, however when you actually play it the game is more of a third person action strategy game. The game has a very cartoon like art style which reminded me of Age of Empires online. The game put us in a long curved hallway, with gates two gates placed at certain points in the hall. Throughout the hall’s tunnels there were various things like NPC archers and various exploding barrels.
The main point of the game, like I said before is that it’s an action strategy game. You play a knight whose purpose is to stop the orcs from making it to the end of the hallway as they came pouring out of the gates in series of waves. You as the knight have your own hack and slash attacks, weapons and different abilities. However one of the more fun things about this game that brought me back to my fond memories of Tecmo’s Deception was the ability to lay traps for the orcs as they came tromping down the halls.
When it comes to the actual gameplay itself, the game is a stage based game where each stage is a different map. In the early stage, the maps are very basic long hallways with simple curves in them. Later on the hallways evolve into full out multilayered fortresses with weaving hallways. It is in these stages that the real strategy comes into play. At the start of the matches for each map, you are given the chance to lay out your traps the way you want them. The traps you lay around the halls not only kill but delay the orc armies storming the fortress, so you can’t just lay them around randomly, you have to plan it out carefully because you have a set amount of each trap in your item pool at the beginning of each stage. So yes, if you don’t plan things out you will get overwhelmed quite easily by the green mob.
Now you’re probably thinking: Ok so I kill all these monsters, what do I get out of it? Well with every kill you perform you earn points, these points you use to buy more traps, more traps you can kill orcs with. You see the vicious cycle of gore and violence I am painting for you here? The best thing about this point system is that if there is a trap you already set at the beginning of one of the matches, you can remove it from the map and sell it for points to use on other traps. So you aren’t forced to use the same set up for each wave and match that happens. Outside of the typical spikes and exploding barrels, you can use the traps you personally set to trigger stage specific events to take down the orc hoards. One example is you using a turret you set up to cause a chain reaction to make a chandelier fall on a group of orcs, or trigger some spiked logs to fly from the walls. It is lil’ innovations like these that make this game pretty memorable.
Outside the actual trap laying the combat is pretty straight forward. Hack and slash with the sword you are given, while your bow attacks drain your manna pool. Other things like spells also drain the pool. The spells you have at your arsenal range from offensive such as fire balls to defensive spells such as elemental flame walls. The best thing about the combat in my opinion was how accurate you can be with your bow and arrow attacks. It is so accurate you can perform multiple headshots and keep enemies away in succession with the long range attack. The simplicity of this combat system shows that Robot didn’t want you to rely solely on personal combat. It is something to fall back on, but the real way to survive the orc attacks is the use of strategy when laying out your traps.
In closing Robot Entertainment has taken a basic tower defense formula that is mostly used for mini-games and simple flash based games and has turned it into something big and new. After playing the game I think back and realized I could have done way more with my trap set ups and tactics. I definitely foresee my OCD acting up big time with this, going back constantly and replaying stages just to do myself one better with the last time I did a stage. So yes, I can safely say this will have tons of replay value. The game will be released on the PC and Consoles on their respective downloadable marketplaces.