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On 11/12/2012 at 12:00 PM by Nick DiMola
A unique concept that fails in execution.
If you’re prepared to continuously replay levels due to issues resultant from the game’s poor operation, feel free to give Orgarhythm a shot.
Aside from ambitious, the only other word that can be used to describe Orgarhythm is disappointing. Given that Tak Hirai of Space Channel 5, Shenmue, and Meteos fame was behind the unique blend of action, strategy, and rhythm gameplay, I couldn’t help but be excited. However, the execution of these concepts simply doesn’t match up to the ambition of the idea.
Orgarhythm is composed of a set of 12 levels which grow progressively more challenging. Through each level, your character, the God of Light will strut and dance down the battlefield on a set course. Surrounding you are minions of earth, fire, and water alignment, who fight on your command.
In time with the beat, you must tap the touch screen three times to issue a command to your troops. One tap to activate the process, one to choose an elemental alignment, and one final time to instruct the type of offensive maneuver to take, whether it’s melee, ranged, or siege. One final swipe will send a certain number of troops to the specified location, depending on how large of a line you draw.
Tapping with the beat will level up your minions and draw more of them out onto the battlefield. And of course, like any good rhythm game, keeping with the beat adds new layers to the background song, making it (in some instances) more complicated to pick out the core beat, but more enjoyable to listen to.
Backing the entire gameplay is a rock-paper-scissors dynamic where fire beats earth, earth beats water, and water beats fire. Your enemies, the minions of the God of Darkness, are all of the same elemental types and must be counteracted appropriately. Furthermore, based on their placement on the battlefield, you’ll need to engage the proper type of attack to take them down.
Outside of basic support functions, your on-screen character can do nothing to defend himself (unless you have a fully charged command bar). As such, you’re completely reliant on your troops to succeed in destroying the enemies on the battlefield. While I wish it were as simple as providing them good commands to succeed, in many instances they fail to operate as expected.
Sending them to a spot on the map can often be a fruitless endeavor. Occasionally bad pathfinding may make it so that it takes them an exorbitantly long time to arrive, thus defeating the purpose of issuing the command. Other times they’ll simply hang back and wait, for whatever reason, before they proceed forward, thus leaving your avatar defenseless. Perhaps the most frustrating of the situations are when your troops merely leave their instructed posts before eliminating the threat or being issued another command. The lack of ability to properly direct your troops leaves you feeling helpless all too often.
As you start to learn the quirks of the AI, you can circumnavigate some of the pitfalls associated, but one problem you can’t escape is the indecipherable landscape of the battle. When both your troops and the dark troops are in great number it’s almost impossible to actually tell what’s going on. This tends to happen during the boss battles that conclude each level and results in either a depletion of your life because you didn’t notice the large swath of enemies en route to attack you or death of your troops entirely. Of course, this means you get to start the 5-10 minute level over from the beginning, even if you’re in the final moments of the fight.
A couple of other oddities make matters worse, specifically the need to always issue commands, even if enemies are not on the screen, because idling too long will result in a complete depletion of your combo and built up troop level.
Despite my continued attempts to enjoy Orgarhythm, I never found it particularly engaging or fun, even when everything was working as intended. Given that similar games like Patapon have successfully tried the same concept, it’s disappointing to see Orgarhythm come together so poorly.