Get into the Rhythm of Battle – Orgarhythm Review For PlayStation Vita
This game is reviewed on the PlayStation Vita.
Orgarhythm, released exclusively for the PlayStaion Vita and developed by Acquire, is one of those experimental titles that seems a perfect fit for the rapidly-growing downloadable-game scene – and not just because you’d find the name difficult to ask for in a physical store As a mash-up between the rhythm and strategy genres, Orgarhythm has you guiding a god around a series of landscapes and directing troops through a path of various foes. If you’re after any solid explanation as to why you’re doing this, you’re out of luck, as there really isn’t much story to be gleaned from the game. What there is, however, is plenty of dancing, some groovy tunes, and an experience rather unlike anything you’ll find anywhere else.
To ease you into the game gently, Orgarhythm begins with a brief tutorial that explains the basic control scheme. Tapping the touch screen once in time with the musical beat allows you to select both the elemental type and the soldier that you want to direct at a particular moment, while tapping again chooses the type of role you want them to take up, be it standard melee combat, archery, or joining up as part of a catapult team. By then tapping or swiping on the battlefield, you can direct your troops to a particular spot to begin battle with the enemy.
Combat works similarly to a rock-paper-scissors basis, with the three elements (earth, water and fire) each having strength over one other element, and a weakness against the other. It’s a simple premise that doesn’t require much explanation, and it means that you don’t need a lot of time to decide which type of soldier will prove useful in any given situation.
For a rhythm-based game, music is one of the most important aspects, and thankfully, Orgarhythm’s soundtrack is its strongest suit, although it can be a little drum- and guitar-heavy at times. The implementation of the music is handled with a deft touch as well, with the levelling aspects of gameplay intertwined with the soundtrack, and a good level of visual feedback for those who may be lacking in rhythm. As you tap in time to the beat you are graded, and the better grades you get, the higher your multiplier raises, up to a maximum of level 5. As the level increases, more troops join your cause. The better your timing is, the more powerful your army becomes! On the flipside, if your timing is terrible, your troops will end up weaker, and you won’t get any reinforcements when your soldiers kick the bucket.
Unfortunately, for all the good the music brings to the game, the strategy aspect tries its hardest to take it away. Your soldiers are generally clumsy, and attempting to order them around the battlefield is trickier than it sounds. Whilst you swipe on the screen to direct your forces to an area where enemies are one minute, by the time your troops arrive there, chances are the enemy has moved on, usually in the direction of your defenceless god general. Your soldiers blindly follow orders (apart from when they want to go off and do their own thing, which happens more than you’d like), so even if their paths cross directly in front of the enemies they have been assigned to attack, they will ignore them and head straight to the designated area, where they will stand in formation doing nothing as your god receives a beating. This problem can be exacerbated by the placement of the camera, as it is often just outside the range where the hostiles are located with no way to change the angle. This frequently makes it too difficult to spot a particular group of enemies’ elemental type until they are on top of you, at which point it’s futile to try to fight them off effectively.
At the end of each level comes a boss fight, and whilst the amount of detail put into some of the bosses is impressive, the design of the fights themselves is much less so. Most battles quickly degenerate into a case of sending as many troops as you can into the enemy’s path and hoping that they perform any kind of action that will cause damage, as the tactics to defeat each boss are never really made clear. Even by the end of some levels, you will be just as ignorant of how to defeat a certain boss as you were before the battle began, as trial and error seems to take preference over any form of tactical cohesion. Due to the lack of checkpoints through each of the levels, almost every boss battle forces you to take a gamble on whether your forces can cause enough damage before your god is defeated or not. If you are beaten, you will have to begin the level again, with no additional knowledge about the strategies to defeat the boss or the enemies in general.
Perhaps the worst crime that Orgarhythm commits against itself is that it completely lacks the utilisation of the Vita’s fairly formidable accuracy and its capacity for higher end graphics. The visuals seem muddy, the character models are blocky and the landscapes are quite literally barren wastelands, devoid of any character. A game of this type, with such a good soundtrack, could benefit greatly from an inspired art style, making the game a much more enjoyable experience. Most of the time spent playing Orgarhythm is taken up by watching your god wander aimlessly through these morbid environments at a lethargic pace, frequently inducing frustration and boredom in equal measure.
Orgarhythm is the type of title that could almost be seen as a launch release alongside the debut of a new console, highlighting several of the new features but being uninspiring by itself. Priced as it is ($29.99 on the PlayStation Store), it’s incredibly difficult to justify recommending this game to anyone, be they interested in rhythm games or not. There are much better options available.
Orgarhythm scores an out-of-time 3.5 out of 5.
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