Of Orcs and Men is a role reversal RPG, where you fight as Orcs, or “greenskins” as their known in the game, against the humans. Apart form the chance to play as characters who are generally perceived to be through and through evil though, does this game offer anything new to the genre?
The answer to that question is unfortunately, no. It is a good game, but it is more of a by the numbers RPG with the only difference is playing as Orcs. It isn’t even really by the numbers as a lot of the systems that make traditional RPG’s are actually missing from the game. There are no loot drops, no health potions, no particularly good ways to heal your characters and no magic class whatsoever. At first this really put me off the game, as i’m a really big fan of RPG’s and was really excited to do this review. I was sat their wondering, what does this game want to be? A hack n slash or an RPG, as there are elements of Hack and Slash in there as well. The closest game I can compare it to is Dragon Age 2, so take from that what you will. If you enjoyed the way Dragon Age 2 played out, with button-mashing to attack then you will enjoy the combat in the game. If you found it off-putting and prefer the standard format of RPG’s then you will be disappointed.
There were two things that kept me going through the game, and they nearly completely balanced the score as they are done so brilliantly, I just kept on coming back for these. These are the Story-line and the score. The plot was brilliantly engaging, and worked well with the role reversal within the game. You play as Orcs and Goblins who are downtrodden by the invading human empire. They are sold into slavery and only a few are left as a resistance. You play as Arkaih the “butcher” who is sent, along with other members of the bloodjaw pack, to assassinate the Emperor, to cut the head of the snake so to speak. This is where you meet Styx, a goblin who is paid to try and help you get to the emperor. Styx is the perfect counter to The butchers weighty muscle, as Styx is small and agile. As mentioned before there is no mage class within the game, which is slightly disappointing, but you do meet other mages throughout the game. There are many twists and turns within the plot which include betrayal, reliving the past and seeing things from different points of view. This is all intrinsically linked together and just told extremely well. The voice acting of both Arkaih and the Styx is spot on, with Arkaih being honourable and angry, and Styx is such a smart-ass The characters are both extremely likeable and you want to see their story through to the end. The voice-acting of the rest of the cast however, does leave a lot to be desired.
The other point that kept me going through the game was the score, and Olivier Deriviere really touched the emotion of the game within the score. It is fully orchestrated, just like every good RPG should be, and the music just fits the moment perfectly. When you first load up the game you are greeted by some ominous strings which then lead into some beautiful up-beat sections. This is a perfect way to describe the game, there are ominous moments where Arkaih let’s his rage get the better of him, and the game turns very moody and then it goes to Styx, who is there to bring comic-relief to the game, which is generally where the up-beat sections of the music fit in.
Unfortunately these don’t completely weigh out the negative side of the game, and when your playing an RPG there are certain things you come to expect. Like health potions, money, fairly decent A.I. And a decent Dialogue wheel. Unfortunately Of Orcs and Men doesn’t have any of these and it feels like if the game had been in development for another six months or so, then these could have been added in and the game would have shone completely. As it is, I felt slightly disappointed with the game and at some points, downright frustrated, especially with the A.I. Sometimes it was like they were begging you to stealth kill them, by facing the wall. You could also kill someone and then another NPC would walk right over them, with no thought whatsoever.
The game is also exceedingly linear, which whilst there are some side-quests to do, everything is just running down a straight line and killing everything in your path. Whilst some area’s do make us of Styx’s stealth ability, or Arkaih’s rage, for the most part it is just running down a singular path. It makes the game feel very constricted and that you have very little control over the events. Also there were quite a lot of difficulty spikes in certain area’s where I had to turn the difficulty down, but then when I went into the next area, I had to turn the difficulty back up as it was just far to easy. There were some boss battles I could have done with my eyes closed, but the area’s before I had to do on easy as they were nearly impossible.
Overall this isn’t a bad game, but it is very flawed. If you have a free weekend and want a game to play you could do a lot worse, but prepare to be very frustrated. It’s not the worst RPG ever but it certainly isn’t the best.