When first loading up Of Orcs and Men I was caught by surprise to find out that I was going to be playing a queue based single player co-op game using two different characters. Using the main characters, I was tasked with switching back and forth and finding the right combinations that would help me stop dying and start dishing out punishment that my orc appeared more than capable of. The story follows a orc named Arkail and a goblin named Styx as they embark upon an extremely linear journey to assassinate the emperor that is hell-bent on exterminating all “greenskins“.
In true queue based tradition all of the skills and attributes that the duo utilize are all upgradable, the perk to this is the both also battle from either an offensive or defensive stance. While utilizing combinations of the two stances and knowing which to use when you’re low on health vs going on the offensive and trying to obliterate the opposition will be key to completion Arkail brings his own twist to the battlefield as his uncontrollable rage gets the best of him and he begins blindly slaughtering everything in his path including his partner if Styx is unfortunate enough to get into his way.
This is not the game for fans who like to blindly launch themselves into battle and button mash their way to victory. Strategy and tactics are key to survival as the numbers and difficulty are stacked against the player. Utilizing the shoulder buttons to bring the action to a crawl as players are able to queue up their next barrage of moves leading to the next checkpoint. There are a couple sidequests throughout the game but uninspired twists and backstabbing extend the main story, essentially eliminating the need for them in the first place.
The true star of this show is the combat, it’s the thing that drew me in and kept me playing as wave after wave of repetitive enemies became another notch on the belt of the murderous orc known as the Butcher and his stealthy sidekick. Styx may seem like in afterthought in all of Arkails strength and brutality but the goblin more than makes his usefulness known as he can use his stealth stance to sneak up on enemies and complete a one hit assassination. This skill comes in more than handy as Styx cloaks himself and is able to continue to take out guards and traitorous orcs without anyone noticing and thus leveling the playing field as numbers are never in the pairs favor.
Of Orcs and Men is available now on PSN, PC and XBLA and brings a lengthy journey and deep combat system however, the price is a bit more than casual fans of the genre might be willing to pay. The game can be downloaded on PSN and XBLA for $49.99 or at Levelsaves Amazon Store on PC for a price of $39.99. Fans of queue based combat and strategy will be right as home as the journey these 2 greenskins take on is not an easy task.