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Orc: Vengeance

For: iPhone   Also on: iPad
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A little orcward

Product: Orc: Vengeance | Developer: Big Cave Games | Publisher: Chillingo | Format: iPhone | Genre: RPG | Players: 1 | Version: Europe | App version: 1.1
Orc: Vengeance iPhone, thumbnail 1
Poor old orcs. They're the whipping boys of post-Tolkien lore, always portrayed as ugly and treacherous and vicious.

Orc: Vengeance looks to redress the balance by telling a familiar fantasy story, but with the much-maligned green race taking front and centre and showing its mettle.

It's a bit like Shrek without the humour, Mike Myers, or pop culture references.

Just like the gruff ogre, though, this orc doesn't like to be handled.

Keeping tradition alive

After a hilariously hammy introduction you're introduced to orc leader Rok, who must escape from his prison and liberate Middle Ea... sorry, Argon, from an evil sorcerer.

Around this tale developer Big Cave Games has created a very traditional dungeon-crawling RPG, attempting to streamline it for mobile play.

It's certainly succeeded in creating a faithful fantasy universe, with dank dungeons, towering castles, and spooky crypts. There are few signs of originality, but the world is very well-realised, with some excellent 3D graphics and fine lighting effects.

Despite the look of these levels, they're far from the sprawling affairs you might expect from an RPG. Each compact level is split into brief chunks of gameplay, lending themselves to the format pretty well.

Dungeon brawl

Of course, this also means that the sense of exploration and discovery isn't quite what you might be used to if you've played Diablo 3 or something similar. The goal, as ever, is to collect loot from smashed crates, treasure chests, and defeated enemies, but all are pretty much funnelled into your path.

Combat is a simple case of touching an enemy, which will cause Rok to waddle over and start attacking them. This doesn't prove much of a challenge at all in the early stages of the game, provided you keep leveling up Rok's attacks and spending money on new swords and shields.

This forgiving difficulty curve and simple level design partially covers the game's biggest fault - its controls are awful.

Hard going

Considering all you have to do to move Rok around is touch on a location, this can be a remarkably irritating game to navigate.

In order to run you have to press and hold on the screen, but this is unreliable to say the least. Sometimes it reads your input wrong, resulting in you launching one of the gesture-based attacks, and sometimes it simply doesn't work at all.

Speaking of gesture-based attacks, trying to initiate the circle-move is a dark art in itself. It's most unhelpful when the going does get tough, such as in the end-of-level boss sections.

Lost in transition

Orc: Vengeance gets a number of things right, such as its impressive 3D universe and manageable levels. It's also reasonably fun levelling your character up and saving up for that killer sword, in much the same was as it was in Infinity Blade.

Unfortunately, the levels are a little too simple for their own good, failing to engender that exploratory spirit that's vital to any RPG. More than this, the developer needs to go back to the drawing board with the touch controls, as they simply don't work in their current incarnation.

If you're interested in the thought of playing through a solid hack-and-slasher from a slightly different angle, there's plenty of enjoyment to be had in Orc: Vengeance. For the rest of us, that essential layer of immersion is simply lacking.

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Orc: Vengeance
Reviewer photo
Jon Mundy | 6 August 2012
A good-looking and accessible dungeon-crawler, Orc: Vengeance falls down with restrictive levels and woeful controls
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