Coming off the back of a Diablo 3 addiction, I’m not sure why I thought picking up a dungeon-crawling RPG for my iPhone would be a good thing. Maybe they’re baby steps to at least being able to walk outside and still be able to click (or “tap”) my way to killing “all of the things”, having “all of the gold” and “all of the loots”.
You play as Rok, an Orc Warchief who is out for vengeance in the land of Argon that has been royally screwed by some serious man misdemeanours which has lead to the ‘Dark One’ being released from his not so eternal banishment. Everything in Orc: Vengeance is pretty standard RPG fare: levelling, skill points, a vendor that you (rather annoyingly, I might add can only access in the main menu, interesting story line, lore books, random inanimate object smashing and furious tapping battles with numerous enemies as well as challenging boss fights that require more than just standing in one spot and using one ability.
As with most games for the iOS market these days, if you’re too impatient to accrue enough gold (which allows you to upgrade/buy weapons plus the ability to buy two more skill slots – which in turn allows you to more skills that are bound to different swipe motions in battle), you can always buy gold with real money through in-app purchasing. However, this game is easy to play without having to shell out some more of your hard-earned cash. There’s also the obligatory Gamecenter integration – which is a win for the achievement freak in everyone. Checkpoints are well-timed and pocket-friendly, which is extremely important due to the possibility that if you’re playing on your phone, you may actually have to use them. There’s nothing worse than losing ground in a checkpointed game due to an untimely phone call. The game also sports full iCloud support for handy cross device use of saved games.
The retina-supported graphics in Orc: Vengeance are both incredibly beautiful and impressive. The cut scenes and cinematics are especially above par for an iOS game. Little things such as raindrop ripples in puddles and fluttering bats, columns and walls crumble that around you making the areas feel alive and add depth. The character and spell animations are also well-polished. Rok’s moves are well thought out: I particularly enjoyed stomping on spiders as I have always liked the simpler things in games.
Developer Big Cave Games did very well in creating a game of such beauty and polish, even if the levels are inherently very similar. The only thing that lets this game down is the controls. They are fairly average and are often fiddly, especially on the iPhone or iPod Touch. When played on the iPad, it might allow for precision when tapping and making certain different swipe motions on the screen. The first two motions you get are fairly straightforward (double tap and swipe), but the latter two (a circle movement and a zig zag) can be rage-inducing. However, you can change what your swipe motion controls are bound to, lending to great variation in battle gameplay: this is integral if circle motions are still eluding you and you need a certain spell to defeat a certain boss. The sounds, while often repetitive, are still great quality and set the mood quite well, especially the Orc grunts – because nothing sets the vibe like an Orc grunting along in a quest for vengeance.
While it was never going be an extraordinary take on the genre, Orc: Vengeance is a fun, addictive, bite-size RPG and certainly the one of most polished and beautiful games I have come across for the iOS – even with its swipe motion flaws. This mobile hack and slash loot-a-thon will definitely give current any Diablo 3 or any other dungeon-crawler diehards a fix between gaming sessions.