In a nutshell, Of Orcs and Men is a dark fantasy title from Cyanide Studios that delves into the fragile relationship between Orcs, Goblins and Man. This time around, however, you are playing from the perspective of a lumbering Orc named Arkail and a sneaky Goblin named Styx rather than that of the human. But with all of the big titles coming up in the next few months, is Of Orcs and Men worth the $50 price of admission? Here are the Hots and Nots for Of Orcs and Men.
Story Hooks You In
Of Orcs and Men sets the Orcs as the good guys this time around and paints the humans as the bad guys. Man is responsible for the Great War which ravaged the Orcs and Goblins and turned most of them into nothing more than disposable slaves used as bodyguards and builders. You will will be given two characters to play as over the course of the game: Arkail, one of the last free Orcs of the realm who belongs to a tribe known as the Bloodjaws, and Styx, who is the only Goblin found that is intelligent and capable of speech. Arkail and Styx are given the task of ending the life of the Emperor of Men in order to bring the tyranny to a close once and for all. The overall plot is satisfactory enough to keep you hooked throughout the 15 or so hour campaign, but the individual struggles of the characters are what reel you in.
Gameplay Is Tactical
The combat system in Of Orcs and Men is reminiscent of that found In KOTOR and Dragon Age. Once you get into a battle, you open up a menu with different attack options and select 4 to be put into a queue. The two characters are polar opposites of each other however. Arkail is prone to bouts of rage if you queue up too many offensive abilities in a row and set of his rage mode. Once he goes into rage mode, you have no control over what he does or who he attacks. This could be both good and bad. If this triggers too early in a battle, he may end up killing Styx and coming out of it before the battle is over, leaving him winded and unable to attack for awhile. Trigger it at the right time, and the tide of battle can shift drastically if you are in a pinch. It all comes down to how you manage his rage. Styx can be used as either a melee fighter or a long range hitter capable of dealing damage from a safe distance. If a section is proving too difficult for you to handle, you can use Styx’s stealth to thin down the enemy units to make life easier on you and then bring in Arkail to help mop up the rest.
Environments Are Nice
The environments in Of Orcs and Men all look well crafted and are much better than what we see in the character models and animations. The rainy environments glisten in the light and make Arkail and Styx (the only two good looking character models) look even cooler than they already are. The Island of Laments is beautiful to look at and was one of my favorite places that I visited in the game.
Excellent Musical Score
If there is one strong point that can be found within the audio in Of Orcs and Men, it is in the musical score. It manages to give a heavy feeling to the narrative and imbues it with more of a moral weight. The music is provided by award winning composer Olivier Deriviere, who was responsible for music in games such as Obscure and Alone in the Dark. Surrounded by bad voice acting and terrible dialogue, the musical score is the shining knight in a sea of filth.
Character Models and Animations Aren’t That Great
The character models for Arkail and Styx are the only two decent ones found in the game. The rest of them are just muddy and ugly. None of the characters, however are safe from the horrid facial animations that are found in the game. They are borderline grotesque and drag down the decent characters models on the main characters.