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S&S Review: Of Orcs and Men

Title: Of Orcs and Men
Format: PSN(reviewed), XBLA, PC
Release Date: October 11, 2012
Publisher: Focus Home Interactive
Developer: Cyanide Studios
Price: $39.99(Steam), $49.99
ESRB Rating: M

Of Orcs and Men comes from the guys' at Cyanide Studios, the developers behind the disappointing Game of Thrones game, their second go 'round proves to be a much better game in every way.
Story and Presentation:The game takes place during a time where the Greenskins are being oppressed and enslaved against a totalitarian Human government.  Arkail, a rage-driven Orc gets paired up with clever tongued Goblin, Styx.  These two get tasked with assassinating the Human Emperor, in order to liberate the rest of the Greenskin population.  The sense of camaraderie between these two contrasting characters is what drives the story.  If you've read Of Mice and Men, then you'll the obvious inspirations from the famous tale, other than the title similarities.  Although the narrative never reaches the emotional heights of Lenny and George, the game's story is still surprisingly entertaining.  The voice work is a bit of a mixed bag, the two lead characters are good, frequently feeding off each other, but other characters sound pretty bland. I have to mention the choice of words and phrases for the time period doesn't really match up well.  Not the actual curse words themselves, just the way the characters use them.  A lot of times I said to myself, "Why did he say that," or, " Did they just say that?"  Visually, the game is solid is all around, but it can really dazzle you at times with some gorgeous weather effects.  Arkail and Styx are highly detailed, but a few awkward animations hold them back from stardom.  The music is great, it can really create a sense of urgency thanks to the punishing soundtrack.
Core Gameplay:
The gameplay in Of Orcs and Men is very similar to Game of Thrones, its an RPG that utilizes queued up attacks and special abilities.  As you've probably guessed, the Orc is your warrior or tank, and Styx is your dexterous  rogue-like player.  Each character has three different stances that can alter any specific fight in your favor.  Offensive, Ranged, and Defensive are a few of the stances you'll be using, each giving you more abilities that relate to that specific stance.  You can control one at a time, while you're controlling one of the warriors, the CPU will take the reigns on the other.  You can interchange between each of the characters at any moment though, giving you complete control during a bout.  As you finish off enemies, you'll gain experience that helps you level up your Styx and Arkail.  All the special abilities will most likely correspond with one another.   When Arkail and Styx execute certain abilities, the amount of damage dealt can be great. The game is pretty tough, even on the easy difficulty setting.  I had died more than I had hoped for, but as you gain levels, the frequency of you dying dramatically decreases.  Although the gameplay is fun, the same problem I had with Game of Thrones is prevalent in Of Orcs and Men.  There is no impact when you're fighting, it feels like you swinging Styrofoam swords because there's feedback when you land a blow.  This could have been easily appeased with the implementation of rumble.  You need to feel like you're dealing these death blows, and you just don't get that satisfaction.
Final Thoughts:
Even though the game is a little rough around the edges, its a great tale of two distinctive characters journeying to assassinate an Emperor.  The gameplay takes time to become satisfying, but in the end, it'll be well worth your time.  
S&S Rating:7.75/10

2 comments: Leave Your Comments

  1. Matt Stone10/19/2012

    I'm relieved that this game turned out good

  2. Staff_Writer_SamK10/19/2012

    I am too