Orcs Must Die! (PC) Review

By Athanasios 16.12.2021

Review for Orcs Must Die! on PC

Robot Entertainment's main source of income has always been the relatively unknown, but still beloved by its fanbase, Orcs Must Die! line of tower defence games. These mixed the typical trap placement of the genre, along with a third-person action/shooter mindset, with the player being in direct control of the War Mage who is tasked with defending its realm from the orcish horde. The first instalment, Orcs Must Die!, is very simple, and not that big on replay value, and yet it's also very addicting, and very… just-one-more-round-ish, making it a big recommendation to anyone. Especially those who want to kill some Orcs. 10 Years after its creation, Cubed3 takes a good look at it.

You play as the War Mage. If expecting a wise, grey-haired teacher, or a stern, worn-torn veteran you are wrong. The protagonist is one more iteration of the stereotypical, likeable jock - an athletic moron who has a permanent smile on his face, and who doesn't seem to understand that the fate of the generic medieval fantasy realm he lives in rests upon his shoulders. No problem! Why? Because he loves his job!!! He doesn't really care about the intricacies of the situation. He is there to kill some orcs. Thankfully for him, the title of the game at hand explains what the one and only premise is. Also, while there is a story here, this won't bother you with needless dialogue sequences. Orcs Must Die! is all about killing these green fellas by the dozen, via the use of traps, spells, and weapons.

Screenshot for Orcs Must Die! on PC

Offering a slight twist on the strategy sub-genre of tower defence, this has players controlling the main character from up close, rather than a bird's eye perspective. This has two effects on the experience. First and foremost, the whole thing is far more immersive this way. Secondly, as one can't simply control the battlefield from above with a lightning-fast mouse cursor that places traps and whatnot, you need to think and act quickly, moving from one end of the map to the other, being mindful of the attacking hordes of the orcs and their friends. Moreover, the War Mage doesn't just run around placing traps. Wielding a crossbow and a sword, he can hold the lines on his own, with a couple of spells giving him the means to scorch, freeze, and zap the invaders.

The first stage is a corridor. A straight line. On one end is the Rift which must be defended, and on the other end is a gate. It bursts open, and a small river of orcs start walking towards the rift. Moments later, they start stepping on panels where sharp blades come out to slice their green behinds. Now, finish the rest of them with a few sword hacks, or arrows from the crossbow. Good job! Oh-oh, more are coming. Place more traps with the coins that have been collected through all that killing, and repeat the process a couple of times. Completing a stage hands the War Mage a new toy to play with, which means that slowly but steadily, he'll have a pretty varied collection of traps. Some cut whoever comes near, some burn their feet, some slow them down, some shoot from afar, some squash enemies, or push them into the boiling lava nearby - and these are a small part of the list.

Screenshot for Orcs Must Die! on PC

Levels slowly become more complex in design, making you approach this like a puzzle, think ahead, and find the best solution for each challenge, especially when you need to place traps in multiple areas of the map, be mindful of more than one gate (or Rift), and memorise which portal leads to where. At its best, Orcs Must Die! avoids forcing your hand to a specific set of tools, and just lets you experiment. Some will find it enjoyable to fill every single flat surface with a trap, some will sacrifice their early "safety" to focus on generating as much coin as fast as possible, and create an expensive but OP defence line later on, while others will mainly use traps that don't kill, but make it easier for the War Mage to do the deed on his own. The only flaw here, is that a bunch of traps will just collect dust, and almost never be used, especially once you get to the highest difficulty setting.

It should be made perfectly clear that this is a very enjoyable, but for all intends and purposes, a relatively simple game. It's possible and encouraged to experiment, but things aren't really that deep to go bonkers with the tools on offer. There's also not much to do. There's only one mode, which is basically a series of 20+ stages, with the only reason to go back being the need to get a better score (with orc skulls acting as the stars typically found in other games), or to try and ascent the online leaderboards. There's no alternative mode and no online co-op. Long story short, repetitiveness will soon kick in. What can be done then? Well, you can always kill some more orcs! Despite the overall simplicity, the gameplay is actually very addicting, and will make most keep coming back to it.

Screenshot for Orcs Must Die! on PC

Addicting or not, though, you are bound to get bored. The only thing left to do before trying out the superior sequel is the Nightmare difficulty setting. Players will start all over, but with a full set of traps from the very beginning. If experimentation was encouraged in "Normal," in here it's a must. Forget what was done in the first play-through. The orcish horde is much larger, with "elite" units appearing more often, which means that the War Mage must be much more creative with trap placement. Eventually, yes, players will have nothing more to do, besides Leaderboard competition - but being able to spend about 30+ hours on a simple indie title from a small studio (which is usually dirt cheap nowadays) and having tons of fun during the whole ride, is certainly far from a bad thing, correct?

Sure. Orcs Must Die! won't win any awards for its replayability, or deep mechanics. It's very simple… but that's the beauty of it. It's one of those rare occasions where the title says it all. You just kill orcs and have fun while at it. Fun. That's the key word here. Even in terms of aesthetic and sound, this basically is like a watered down copycat of WarCraft's look, with its exaggerated, comic book character design, and vibrant colour palette. That's on purpose. For all the carnage that will ensue, this isn't meant to be a violent experience. This is a cartoon. Orcs are funny morons that scream in a moronic way, while the moron of a protagonist makes moronic comments - and all this while a bunch of medieval hard rock tunes bop along the action. Great for relieving stress after a tiring day.

Screenshot for Orcs Must Die! on PC

Cubed3 Rating

Rated 7 out of 10

Very Good - Bronze Award

Rated 7 out of 10

Killing orcs is fun. That's it. There's no need to say anything else. Oh, you want more? Ok. Orcs Must Die! is a tower defence game, mixed with a decent dose of third-person shooty action. It's relatively simple in mechanics, and doesn't have much replayability, but it's also crazy addicting for the 30 or so hours most will need to do everything there is to do here. So, what are you waiting for?! Go kill some orcs too!!!









C3 Score

Rated $score out of 10  7/10

Reader Score

Rated $score out of 10  0 (0 Votes)

European release date Out now   North America release date Out now   Japan release date Out now   Australian release date Out now   


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