You may have recently heard of a little game series called Diablo by a little company called Blizzard. Throughout the years, Diablo has been the benchmark for fast-paced dungeon-crawling, monster-hacking, and looting. There have been numerous attempts to capture that special something that made Diablo so good. Until recently, the most successful attempt for iOS has been Gameloft’s Dungeon Hunter series. But now, courtesy of Big Cave Games via Chillingo, there’s a new contender for king of the dungeon: Rok, the hero of ORC: Vengeance.
Rok is one of the last Orcs to survive the return of the Dark One, a powerful, ancient entity hell-bent on enslaving the world. It’s your job to escape your prison, defeat the Dark One’s army of creatures and find the surviving Orcs to mount a counterattack against evil.
Wraith to the bottom.
In ORC: Vengeance, you’ll crawl through abandoned castles, dank crypts, portals to other worlds, and what feels like the fiery depths of Hell itself. You’ll smash through a seemingly endless horde of enemies like goblins, vile spiders, wraiths, skeletons (lots and lots of skeletons), imps, zombies, giant stone golems, and fat, wobbly things that like to vomit on you.
You’ll use a vast array of weapons like swords, knives, axes, and maces to mete out your justice, and you’ll use an equally impressive supply of shields as well. You also have a diverse arrangement of skills you can use, like shield-bash, ground smash (an area of effect skill), a fiery dash attack (our personal favorite), or grenades made out of skulls.
And you’ll find lots of loot. Gold, weapons, armor, shields and potions can be found throughout the game’s various levels. You’ll find them in barrels and chests, but also take them from enemies who drop so much loot when you kill them that you’ll think their day jobs are as traveling salesmen. We never thought a bat could carry a battle-axe, but here we are.
So sayeth the spider.
At various times throughout the game, you’ll have the chance to visit a store where you can buy and sell your stuff, but you’ll find so much good stuff just by playing that you’ll be doing a lot more selling than buying. You can also spend real-world money to get more gold to spend in the game, but you really only need to do this to get the super crazy mega-weapons and shields. There’s really no reason to do this– we got through the game just fine with what we found.
As you progress through ORC, you’ll gain experience points which you can use to level up your stats. You can level up your attack, defense, vengeance (which allows the use of more skills), and greed (which affects the amount of gold found and vendor prices). You can also spend gold to increase the effectiveness of your weapons and shields, and even to spice up your health, armor, and technique potions. The level of customization is pretty great, and it allows you to create the kind of warrior that suits your style the best. For example, we made a Rok who is pretty effective at keeping enemies at a distance.
You move Rok by tapping a location on the screen. You can also tap on enemies to attack them, and make swiping motions to activate skills. We found this method to be a little unwieldy. For your techniques, you assign each skill to a different motion. For example, we assigned the use of a healing potion to the drawing of a circle.
Ogre my dead body.
The problem here is that sometimes, when trying to perform the correct motion, you’ll end up sending Rok scurrying across the screen in directions you never intended. And some motions, the ‘zig-zag’ one in particular, don’t always go off when you want them to. It’s a unique approach to the gameplay, but an alternative control scheme or an easier way to activate the skills would have been nice.
ORC’s graphics are phenomenal and set the bar pretty high for iOS gaming. The levels are immense, with an amazing amount of detail and depth. Creature animation is pretty fantastic as well. We especially like the skeletons– they shamble towards you, dragging their massive weapons on the ground with their weak arms, before they lurch forward to attack.
The sound is great, too. Shields bash with a satisfying thud against the hapless enemies, Rok grunts menacingly, and we get a certain amount of satisfaction from the squish that spiders make when Rok steps on them.
ORC: Vengeance is one of the best dungeon-crawlers we’ve played on iOS. You’ll spend lots of fun-filled hours searching through the game’s vast levels, dispensing your special brand of Orc justice and crafting Rok into the warrior you want him to be. There’s no multiplayer and only one character class, but the game is so much fun, and the action so intense and challenging, that you probably won’t mind. We’re hoping to see a sequel.