ORC: Vengeance iPad Review
If you're a seasoned dungeon crawling vet, there's little about Chillingo's ORC: Vengeance that'll surprise you. Compared to the big boys in the genre, namely Blizzard's Diablo 3, it's your typical hack-and-slash adventure, as you plow through fantasy environments pummeling skeleton warriors, spiders and wraiths while grabbing as much loot as your pockets can carry, which is a ton, surprisingly. That said, it's unfair to judge this game against its PC brethren. ORC: Vengeance may not have much in the way of innovative gameplay, but it's among the finest dungeon crawlers for iPhone and iPad, a well-polished and fun monster-bashing romp with impressive graphics, a plethora of weapons and solid gesture-based controls, to which we can't help but ask: Hey, Chillingo. How long have you been hiding this little gem?
Story wise, you play as an orc named Rok that sets off to defeat The Dark One, a welcome change from stepping into the boots of a pitiful human or elf. That said, Rok enjoys smashing things, and a slew of different enemies are more than happy to be on the receiving end of his deathblows. Even better, they often leave behind a modest amount of gold or some weapon/shield Rok can acquire and then equip, because, as expected, this game is all about searching for a better sword or axe, and leveling up to increase his stats, transforming the hero into a nearly unstoppable killing machine. You'll also want to open chests and break pots and barrels for even more goodies. From there, you can make use of these items, or sell them to a vendor between missions for extra gold, which you can hoard or redeem for even cooler gear; you can even upgrade weapons.
In regards to gameplay, ORC: Vengeance is entirely gesture-based, and the controls work for the most part. Tapping the screen instructs Rok to move to that location, while pressing an enemy causes him to target that particular foe and hack away till its dead. You also have the option of assigning up to four skills, pulled off by swiping the screen, drawing a circle, a zigzag pattern or double tapping. Ultimately, it's a good idea to map the most important functions to a pattern you're most likely to remember under extreme stress. In other words, don't put the health potion on something you'll forget later. On a side note, we wish potions had their own virtual buttons, separate from skills.
That said, the controls falter somewhat. Pressing and then holding the screen makes Rok run, but you can't drag your finger to change direction; you tap the screen to do that. What's more, he tends to get stuck on objects. For example, if he's on one side of a chest and you tap the opposite side, he'll attempt to run through the object instead of going around it. Finally, the game will sometimes misread commands, where an attempt to run results in a skill attack (the one assigned to double tap). It may even get stuck from time to time, as you watch Rok quickly deplete his Vengeance meter (energy needed to pull off Skills) while you stare at the screen. Thankfully, these issues don't cripple the game, and even if you die from some unfair mishap, well-placed checkpoints mean you'll be back in the fight in no time.
As for presentation, this is where ORC: Vengeance earns many accolades. The visuals look excellent, particularly on the iPad, allowing you to better admire crumbling castles, dank dungeons and other detailed locations. This is all the more impressive when you consider the fact that the game can push upwards of seven enemies on-screen at once without any performance issues. From there, the developers top things off with epic music clearly inspired by some of the best fantasy movies in Hollywood. Great stuff, all around.
On that note, ORC: Vengeance absolutely deserves to take its place amongst the best dungeon crawling games on the App Store, of which, there are few. Next to Gameloft's Dungeon Hunter series, it's the closest thing you'll find to Diablo 3 on smartphones and tablets, filled with cool weapons, visually stimulating graphics and rewarding combat. Download it without hesitation, and let Rok give his foes the business end of his Imperial Axe.
Review code provided by Chillingo.
What's Hot: Classic dungeon crawling experience, a variety of weapons and shields to equip, numerous enemies to slaughter, gesture-based controls, impressive graphics and music.
What's Not: Some weird control issues, not enough equipment slots.