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Of Orcs and Men — Green Revolution

04Generally I like crossovers in every area, because if the creators are combining the elements of various genres well, the mix can be something good, even if the product shows no really new or unique content in the depths. Since the re-adoptation of Blood Bowl the name of the french Cyanide started to be the synonym of quality entertainment, and the fine-tuned crossover of Of Orcs and Men wrote it onto the list of companies drawing attention.

Even the title grabbed my attention, because it refers to Steinbeck‘s Of Mice and Men, and the similarity goes further. We get the small and agile character as well as the slow giant, and there is a sentence in the synopsis of the book that fits well on this very game: “…clinging together in the face of loneliness and alienation.”

07The trailers bought me with the story: Humans wage total war against the greenskins, a part of the orc race is already eradicated, and the other part is mostly enslaved. But humans did not take an important thing into account: The orcs seem wild, unorganized and barbaric on the outside, but in fact they have an advanced culture with mostly strength-based but solidly contoured power hierarchy in it. And, you know, they have an elite squad.

These elites are the Bloodjaws, and have a jaw tattoo on the right breast – and of course the main hero, Arkail is a part of the team. You get the mission summarized in a very orcish way: Get through the wall, search and kill the emperor! Really, this is it. But the completion is much more difficult than the summary of the mission.

09The first and most important thing: They hire a guide for you to lead you through the city wall. He is no other than Styx, the only goblin in the world ever heard speaking and ever showed signs of intelligence. Not to mention, he is the narrator of the story and swearing is not far from him. So that’s it, you have the odd couple, and their only mutual attribute is their green skin.

The differences would make an enormous list, so I stick to the essentials. First of all, Arkail is a warrior with some anger management problem, so let’s say it out: he is a rampaging beast, and sometimes he is so mad that he sees red literally and kills everything that moves around him. Styx too. And sneaking is very far from him; his most silent way of walk is the rush against his enemies with booming steps. Oppositely, the goblin is an assassin, who thinks that if you can kill someone by cutting the throat from behind, than why should you risk your skin in open fight?

A secondary, but equally important feat is the cultural difference. Both of them are greenskins, but while the goblins are wild and handled like dogs, the orcs are like standing on a higher rung of the ladder of evolution. This is why Arkail simply despises Styx from the first moment. And there is the difference between the castes: Our orc berserker counts honor and respect as basic qualities, but his companions measures these qualities in coins promised for the work.

03There are more details, but the most factual description of the characters is simply the “entirely different” phrase. Talk about cultural background, merits and flaws, dedication and combat abilities or knowledge, they simply have nothing in common.

Of course, this is the result of deliberate planning and attentive programming/artistic work, but what makes it a truly bright game, so what is the very thing that makes it much more than an inconsistent rubbish with disorganized game experience? The answer is: tactical fight. Tactics begins with the question: How many opponents are you able to kill with sneaky Styx’s deadly little dagger blades before the much rougher skirmish starts?

And continues with the using of your two totally different characters against the opponents various in numbers and combinations. Arkail and Styx have to work together, because if they don’t, even a group of goblins snarling like dogs can kill them. If they cooperate, even the hardest berserker orcs and inquisitors cannot stand before them – separately or together.

08You have to watch the battleground continuously, and there is no place for selfish moves. When the opponents come, Arkail and Styx becomes the two arms of the same fighting machine, and while one hand smashes down, the other tries to weaken the opponents. Some situations can be really hard, like character development itself. Even on the higher levels I was thinking about where to put that 1 attribute point and 1 skill point I got. Also, the questions about armors and weapons make you think, and the answer-selecting talk adds to the RPG feeling.

If it is not clear enough, I sum it up: This is a crossover game made from the best elements of RPG, dungeon crawling, adventure and small team tactics genres. This is an excellent alloy wrought in Cyanide’s workshop. Love at first sight for me, and this is my final opinion, even after walking it through.

Garcius—

OrcsandMen_boxPublisher: Focus Home Interactive
Developers: Cyanide, Spiders
Homepage: http://www.oforcsandmen.com/index.php
Style: dungeon crawling, RPG, adventure, tactics

What I liked:
orc culture

characters
tactical fight
RPG elements

What I didn’t like:
no such thing

5_5

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