Orcs Must Die! Review
For anyone looking for a fun twist on the tower defense genre.
You would think that by my thousandth dead orc I would have stopped grinning when a horde of them walked into my carefully constructed labyrinth, setting off a chain of traps that resulted in their own glorious deaths by piercing, dismemberment, crushing, burning or all of the above. But then you haven’t played Orcs Must Die! yet. Created by Robot Entertainment, Orcs Must Die! is a light hearted third-person take on the classic tower defense genre that in addition to placing various traps and obstacles against an overwhelming orc horde you can also engage them with melee, ranged, and magical attacks.
You can take as long as you want at the start of each level to explore the fort and identify the various advantages and disadvantages that you have to work with. In each are a minimum of one door, the entryway for the orcs, and one glowing rift, the exit they wish to get to so they can begin slaughtering innocents. It is up to you to make sure they don’t make it to the exit. Small blue lines emanate from the door and follow a path to the rift that will give you an idea of which route they will take through the fort. Along this route you have various goodies at your disposal to lay down, ranging from straight forward damage dealers to ones that slow down opponents or even launch them in a direction of your choice. Each trap has its own limitations and advantages and I would be hard pressed to name one that you couldn’t work into a viable winning strategy in one way or another, the main deciding factor being your preference. You will be given a number of slots (think hotkeys) with which to link a collection of traps and abilities to, and once you decide on what to use you are committed until the end of the level.
The important thing is layering the traps in such a way that you can still account for the waves that get through while your traps reset; while this is something you can do with your own attacks early on in the game you eventually get to a point where mistakes in placement can cost you the entire game. In addition to the traps you can summon guardians, such as elven archers, to fight for you as well. While they can be hurt by the monsters they provide a steady stream of fire that the traps can’t match.
Your own attacks start with the sword and crossbow, which expands to magical artifacts such as a wind bracer to knock back foes or one to shoot fireballs. Each of these attacks takes a slot from your trap choices and I found that I really just stuck with the crossbow and wind bracer to keep a larger assortment of traps on the ready.
The game is incredibly polished and does a great job focusing on keeping the gameplay simple and not letting anything extra interfere with the action. There are a few annoying bugs that will crop up from time to time such as the barricades inexplicably letting monsters through or a creature being dumped into lava but not allowed to die until you shoot it once. Thankfully though these are few and far between and nothing a quick restart won’t fix if resolution is impossible.
The difficulty of the game also has some hiccups in that it will follow a steady for a few levels and then suddenly ramp up, almost certainly resulting in you being overrun. This is compounded by the game not giving you any indication of what will come out of each door in a wave, causing you to potentially waste precious resources building a trap for an unused door.
It will last you about eight hours on the first play through before unlocking a much harder mode that amps up the power of the hordes you face. Anyone looking for a fun tower defense game with a twist should pick this up.