Orcs Must Die! Review (PC)

You want more traps? Cause I sure do!

So I’m not really into the whole tower defence genre, but I remember seeing some trailers for this game awhile ago and wanting to have a go of it just from it’s aesthetics. Having played the game now, it’s a mix of the graphics and easy gameplay that makes me stick with it and makes me want to finish it. Sure I’m terribad at this game, but doesn’t mean it’s not fun!

Orcs Must Die is more like a trap-defence game cross third person shooter. Basically in every stage, the orcs come from one end of the map and have to get to the Rift, which is their exit point. Your job is to stop them from getting to the Rift using an array of traps and yourself, armed with a crossbow for ranged attacks or a spear for melee attacks. The traps range from your average spikes that come up from the ground to damage, barriers to block paths and guide orcs to their death to things like archer sentries which you can place on higher ground to attack orcs and bulky swordsmen who stand in one place and hack any orcs that pass by into cute little pieces.

An interesting thing in this game is that you can be attacked and die. I thought it’d be like Sanctum, another tower defence/first-person shooter game that’s on Steam where the enemies just ignore you, but no, they come at you if you’re too close and you take damage from their hits. If you die, you instantly respawn, but it takes away from some of your score so…. Don’t die. Health potions are periodically dropped, so make sure to keep and eye on your health and pick them up when needed. Sentries can also be attacked and die, so you gotta be smart about using them cause they cost quite a bit. You can kind of use the tactic of the enemies following you to attack you though, the big enemies like Ogres follow you for quite a bit while you attack them, which is good cause traps to pretty much nothing to them.

You unlock different traps after each level and you can upgrade these traps with skulls you earn after you finish levels. The upgrades range from doing more damage, to adding extra attributes (spike traps become poison spike traps), to being cheaper and faster reset times. I haven’t gotten all the traps and from all the slots I see there are A LOT of traps you can unlock. This allows you to alter and change your play-style as new levels unlock and also offers you a chance to play with a lot of different tactics and strategies to slaughter these waves of oncoming orcs.

At the beginning of the stages you have a chance to run around the level and explore what options you have in terms or placing down traps and what paths orcs could take in getting to the exit. This time is pretty much invaluable so you have as long as you need. Once you finish buying and setting down your traps, you can release the oncoming orcs. These enemies come in waves, as they do in many tower-defence games, and there are breaks in between waves to let you sell and buy new traps and adjust your strategy as the level plays out.

The story for Orcs Must Die is simple and humourous. You play as the War Mage, apprentice to a wizard who has been protecting Rifts from Orcs for all his life. (The Rifts lead to the world where ‘we’ live, letting Orcs come to ‘our’ world is a big no-no.) The wizard has absolutely no faith in his egotistical, loud mouthed apprentice in the slightest – he often mouths off one-liners as he sets traps and slays orcs and has really obnoxious victory dances, but that doesn’t mean he’s a bad guy exactly (just an egotistical jerk who loves his orc-slaying job).

The graphics for this game aren’t anything new, but they’re still gorgeous with interesting character designs and lovely lighting. The visual feedback you get from slaying orcs in masses is really satisfying and the sound design is amazing. While the waves are coming at you, intense music plays to accompany the high-action slaying, and pause between waves has ambience instead. The sound effects of the battle are filled with cries of dying orcs, the squishy sounds of death and the clangs and clashes of traps within stone walls.

Orcs Must Die doesn’t boast a ton of originality, but the gameplay is seamless. I’m pretty bad at these games, so the levels get hectic for me awfully quick (Twin Halls, oh I hate you Twin Halls). If you’re a fan of the tower genre or strategy games in general, this is a game you really should check out. If you’re new to the genre or just don’t play TD games much (like me) then Orcs Must Die feels like a pretty good place to start.

Rating: ★★★★★★★½☆☆

About the Author

I'm just your regular gamer! Currently working in the game industry as an artist. I love all manner of things cute, colourful and crazy. I also love lemons quite a lot. c: