Written by Micah Messer
Pro tip: Take a shot of Whiskey every time you see the word “orc” in this review. See you in the E.R.
So, I kind of love the crap out of this game. There are few things that give me as much satisfaction as flinging a gigantic ogre into a pit of acid with one of my upgraded spring traps. If you think that tower defense games are just Blizzard mods and browser games, then Robot Entertainment aims to prove you wrong. Orcs Must Die is a unique and fun twist on the TD genre that simply doesn’t disappoint. It’s always good to see small, quiet, developers poke their heads out every once in a while to bring us quality products.
Orcs Must Die pits you against wave after wave of orcs, goblins, gnolls, ogres, and more orcs. You play as the last remaining battle mage in the world, tasked with protecting the rifts from pesky green-skinned brutes. As a battle mage, you have the ability to draw power from the rift to do things like materialize traps from nothing or shoot lightning from the palm of your hand. You also have a number of other spells and weapons to help you against the plethora of enemies thrown at you. Using your blade-staff, crossbow and offensive spells, you’re capable of dealing with a lot of enemies by yourself, but it will take the combination of both your arsenal of traps and your battle prowess to defeat the seemingly never-ending waves of orcs.
Bring it, punk.
The concept of Orcs Must Die is simple. Waves of orcs come pouring out of multiple entrances, and you have to stop them from reaching a central point called “the rift”. Killing them warrants a currency reward, which can be used to fortify your defenses with extra traps, barricades, or swinging maces of death. However, with this simplicity comes complexity, as it is your job to think of the best possible ways to combine your traps in a fasion that reaches top orc-killing potential. Do you spend the remainder of your cash to add in more arrow traps on the walls, or instead use it to fill the hallway with tar to diminish the orcs’ speed, making them easy targets to be picked off? It’s up to you to decide. This is a recipe for hilarity, as well as strategic planning; two things that should be combined more often.
Check out this video displaying some different trap combinations. Also, I almost failed the mission. Don’t make fun of me.
Choice is a big part of Orcs Must Die. Throughout the game you unlock over forty different traps and weapons, but the biggest tool bar they give you only has ten slots. This forces you to judge each level and determine what kind of strategic defense you’re going to be constructing, and more importantly, what set of tools of destruction you’ll be using. About halfway through the game, you unlock skill trees that you can spend some of your cash on upgrading the traps/weapons of your choice. For example, you can make all of your sharp traps apply a damage-over-time effect, or make all of your physics traps more powerful and able to affect big enemies like ogres.
The one complaint I have with Orcs Must Die is the fact that nothing really carries over from level to level, aside from the traps that you unlock. I miss playing old tower defense games and constructing an enormous maze of death, but in Orcs Must Die, you start your defense from scratch at the beginning of each level. Also, the aforementioned skill tree upgrades don’t carry over either. If you bought an upgrade last level, you have to buy it again. The game isn’t very big either. It took me about 5-6 hours to complete the game, which isn’t all that bad considering it’s a downloadable title for about $15, but it would have been nice to have a few more levels. Fortunately, upon completing the last level of the game, you unlock nightmare mode, which adds a bit of replay value as well as encouragement to get higher scores on already-completed levels.
Yeah, good luck getting through that, orc scum!
Overall Score: 87
Orcs Must Die is a delightful downloadable title that is addictive, charming, and enjoyable from start to finish. Experimenting with traps is thoroughly entertaining, and the game only left me wanting more.
Genre Score (Tower Defense): 93
A modern, fast-paced take on the Tower Defense games we know and love. As a Tower Defense/Third-Person Action/RPG hybrid, Orcs Must Die absolutely excels in its genre. Oh, and it’s a blast.