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Orczz

Published by Camel 101
Price $9.99
Download
Primary Genre Secondary Genre

The kingdom of Whiteleaf is under attack! Their neighbours in the Land of Orcs are rather thirsty, and they've come to Whiteleaf to seize the delicious honey wine mead that it is so famous for. The only defence against the invaders is the Order of the Mug, a group of valiant knights pledged to protect the kingdom. Once it was powerful - now, after many years of peace, it is little more than a relic of the past. It is up to you to take command of the Order and defend the kingdom from the marauders.

Orcs advancing on the mead supply. Stop them! In later levels the orcs get tougher and more cunning. These ones can fly!

Orczz is a tower defence game in similar style to Plants Vs Zombies. Orcs appear on the right of the screen, heading towards your stronghold on the left along five "lanes". You place your troops in these lanes in such a way that they'll intercept the orcs and prevent them reaching their destination. Each level has a set time limit, after which orcs will stop appearing - if you can defeat all the orcs left on screen at this point, you'll beat that level. Each victory will provide you with new troops or weapons, and each new level will introduce bigger threats.

Money is your main limiting factor. The troops you hire for each battle have a cost attached to them - your initial knights are free, but others need to be bought. In the main game, you can use most troops as often as you like but some are limited to a set number on screen at a time. Support weapons have a cost to hire and a cost per use, so should be used sparingly. Gold is earned by defeating orcs - each enemy will drop a coin that can be collected if you are swift enough. You also have a line of catapults that can be used to even the odds - click and hold the mouse button on a catapult to set the range. These take some practice and need time to reload.

Know your enemy! There's a guide to orc types in the main castle. Hiring your stalwart defenders.

Comparisons to Plants vs Zombies are inevitable, but a little unfair. Graphically Orczz tries to be fun and fairly cute, though I think it could do better, and characters are BIG. This is in its favour if the aim is for a smartphone version, but on the PC it looks a little odd and impacts on the overall size of the play area. There's an optional grid overlay if you need assistance placing your troops (a nice touch) and the various different orcs are clear and easy to distinguish. The catapult shots are weird, though. They fire UP in a nice parabola, but the smooth arc becomes a rather wobbly near-vertical descent on the way down!

The background music is good, with different tunes for different settings, and there's a range of sound effects. These can be individually adjusted. I advise caution with this - when I first started the demo, I checked the options and found both set to full, but then had no sound effects on the first level (just music). On the second level I had sound effects but no music! I have no idea what caused these changes to the settings. Sound effects are okay, with a range of sounds for orc screams, sword parries and so on, but some sounds seem overused - particularly the chime that sounds when troops are ready to be placed, which is also used when they are placed and when you pick up coins.

The game difficulty has three settings, and I found Normal to be pretty effective. New game items appear at a good rate, and the main concept is simple enough to learn, though I don't think the catapults were explained too clearly. You have a limited number of slots to select troop types - I have to say, I found I tended to just take two every time (one ranged and one melee), which is cheaper to hire and works out just as practical as having a range. Placing ANY warrior restarts the wait timer for ALL warrior types. You can't simply place one while waiting for another, which would make more sense to me. I found the grid very useful, because placing troops was occasionally a little "sticky" and I managed a few times to place them in the wrong spot.

There's a load of levels to try - more than I've had enough time to get anywhere near through - and minigames break up the action a little. Shoot the orc archers from your castle, drop anvils on orc heads (!), sneak the spy through their warriors... they're all quite nuts, and add to the general charm. The background story is detailed and the troop descriptions and general messages are well written and quietly amusing. But, somehow, it just doesn't quite all work for me.

Orczz would benefit from further debugging. Aside from the volume hiccup, I had a weird moment on one level in which I started a game, was approached by a single orc - and then my cat jumped onto the desk and hid the monitor from my sight. I managed to find the menu button and pause the game while the cat chased the mouse cursor for a few minutes before growing bored. When I unpaused the game, the timer had gone down to zero and that solitary orc was the entire invasion force. Somehow I don't think this was supposed to happen.

This is one of those frustrating games which is very good in so many ways and yet could be so much better in others. The troop timers are just downright odd. The bugs are careless. Some things clearly haven't been thought through, like the difficulty in collecting coins in the anvil minigame (because clicking on them also drops anvils). The style is a little rough in places but has a lot going for it, and the game could be a winner with some more playtesting. I just don't think it's quite ready yet.

Graphics 70%
Sound 75%
Playability 75%
Longevity 70%
Overall Score 72%
Bronze Star

Published on 14 Oct 2011
Reviewed by Andrew Williams

Keywords: orczz review, camel 101 reviews, camel 101 games, orczz scores, pc game reviews, indie game reviews, independent gaming.

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