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Of Orcs And Men

By JcDent06-12-2012
siegarettes (editor)
Bis18marck70 (editor)

The Defence

Cyanide / Spiders
Focus Home Interactive
Adventure, Role Playing
Release Date:

The Prosecution

Intel Dual Core 2 GHz
AMD equivalent
Nvidia GeForce 8800 GT
AMD RadeonHD 3850
2 GB
6 GB

The Case

It is said that each work of fiction needs characters you can identify with it. That’s why the Transformer movies have humans despite them being totally unsympathetic. I, of course, claim bullshit, since I can no more identify with Geralt or Captain Titus than with Optimus Prime.

The Trial

Orcs, hulking green mountains of muscle and scars, live in the Southern lands. In the meantime, the human realms got their shit together, unified, raised themselves some emperors and set out to conquer the greenskins. After years of conflict the orcs are all but beaten while the newest (and the most bloodthirsty) Emperor yet seeks alliance with the dwarven and elven nations to achieve total victory. Bloodjaws, the warrior elite of the greenskins, plans to cut these plans short by cutting down the monarch. You’ll control one of these warriors, the infamous berserker Arkail and his shifty guide Styx, the only known goblin who shows some traits of intelligence.

The game is mostly combat oriented, only occasionally featuring hubs that contain side missions, trade and character development. Combat, however, is a bit odd. While you can control the movement of the characters, the attacks are done by target locking and queuing up to 4 four attacks. These are split between two modes. Arkail, as it befits an orc and a berserker has an aggressive stance that gives bonus to damage and contains powers for dishing most damage. The other stance is defensive, which sacrifices damage for defence and abilities that stun or interrupt targets. By this, Arkail will parry and counter attack. Styx however, is the rogue and will be squished in direct combat. His attack stance is mostly about weakening single enemies and preparing them for the steamrolling that Arkail dishes out. Instead of defensive stance the goblin gets a ranged stance - since it’s better to engage all those pesky soldier from afar.

Both members of the greenskin duo have even more to add to their unique repertoire. Arkail’s rage level - which builds up as he attacks and is attacked - should be watched carefully, since he can go berserk. Which means that you can’t control him while his attacks gain immense power. Unfortunately, one of the firsts targets of this rage is Styx and the Goblin is almost always one-shotted . Also, in the meantime, Arkail might be swarmed and killed by the enemy. To avoid this, Styx can stealth ahead and stab some enemies before they notice that something is amiss. The stealth system is pretty rudimentary, with enemies not noticing the corpses of their comrades, though this does not mean you’ll kill every last enemy on the map without raising an alarm.

Prepare to see a lot of ephemeral goblin.

Prepare to see a lot of ephemeral goblin.

The maps are, most of the time, linear in the extreme, with Arkail and Styx (and character development) starting on one side of a narrow tunnel and the goal being at the other. Then again, the game awards exploration with better loot and routes to bypass enemies or to gain vantage for stealth assassinations. It’s actually better than it appears.

The difficulty of combat fluctuates somewhat during the game, with various types of enemies, like mages and pikemen, being added. Your goal, most of the times, will be to get the enemies to concentrate on Arkail while Styx runs around weakening their armor and applying poison to the most dangerous enemies. In the end most of the kills belonged to Styx while Arkail served as a big bait. A tank and a DPS, maybe? I find it funny that most Arkail’s kills in the later game came from Disengagement power - just queue four of them and run around weakening enemies with Styx. Some fights might end up formulaic, but the game is always ready to throw you a curveball. In the end, every kill - except for maybe goblins and dogs - is pleasurable, especially when an enraged Arkail grabs a soldier and breaks his back on the knee.

Demonstrating l337 no scope 360 goblin throw, orcish contempt for back armor.

Demonstrating l337 no scope 360 goblin throw, orcish contempt for back armor.

On the other hand, Of Orcs and Men suffers from the usual shortcomings of games released by minor studios, mainly, in the areas of visuals (especially facial animations) and voice acting. Then again, your opinion on the games visuals depends mainly on what type of a person you are. The orks are big and impressive while Styx is a goblin rogue to end all rogues, the enemy soldiers look formidable and, in the case of Inquisitors, wicked sick. Considering that this comes from a team that is smaller than, say, EA’s contingent of cleaning ladies, it’s an impressive achievement. Voice acting is mediocre at times, but it never falls as low as some Russian games, like Men of War or, God forbid, Warfare, do.

The Verdict

Of Orcs and Men has an interesting idea and spins a tale that isn’t half bad. It has humour and likeable characters and the combat scheme is interesting. In the end, I’d recommend it to anyone not spoiled by the AAA releases that spend all their time screaming “HUMANS ARE BEST, PAY US!!!”. I’m looking at you, Dragon Age! And that’s why I like Of Orcs And Men, an action game where you control an Orc and a Goblin on a quest to kill the human emperor. It looks like a budget release yet plays like a fruit of love.

Case Review

  • Interesting twist: you control an orc and a goblin - and they’re the good guys!
  • Interesting story: you learn much about the world of the game and even the sins of the protagonists’ past.
  • Combat: It’s fun once you get a hang of it.
  • The Visuals: it has the “yep, it’s cheap” look.
  • Voice acting: inexplicable texas accent crops up here and there.
  • Facial animations: be thankful that there aren’t many human characters around.
Score: 4/5
Of Orcs and Men, for what it is, is an awesome adventure game
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