Feedback on "Of Orcs and Men": Overall, I liked it :)

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Feedback on "Of Orcs and Men": Overall, I liked it :)

Postby Nightfish » 07 May 2013, 17:00

For some reason "Of Orcs and Men" had been sort of under my radar until a few days ago. I picked it up on the steam sale and have to say I'm quite pleasantly surprised. The mixed reviews the game got almost made my shy away from it, but thanks to youtube I could look at some footage and see that some of the complaints were completely unfounded or just things I don't see as being game breaking or even worth mentioning.

I normally don't bother registering on forums anymore and I certainly don't bother giving companies feedback on their products, but I've noticed what threads there are here tend to get read / commented on by someone from the team, which I think is great. So... thumbs up for that right off the bat. And since I feel this game got a lot of undeserved flak, I felt compelled to even it out a bit (although I also feel compelled to list the things I felt that could have been better, but more on that later :)).

I could probably write a small novel here but I'll try to limit myself to a few points that are important to me.

First up: I actually finished the game, which used to be par for the course for me, but in recent years has been less and less so. For example, I have not finished Skyrim and probably never will because while the game is huge, it is not engaging. Orcs and Humans was.

What I liked best:
The Music
Congratulations to whoever came up with the concept for this. Maybe this is just me, as one of my favorite bands is based around this instrument, but I'm a huge sucker for cellos and the music fits the game perfectly. It sets the mood really nicely. I cannot recall any title in recent years where the music was *this* good, or even close. As far as I am concerned, Of Orcs and Men sets the bar in this category, and it sets it high. Just for kicks, I went through my library of about 100 games from the last 20 years and found at most 5 that I could argue had equal or better music, some only winning due to nostalgia. (Final Fantasy 3, Chrono Trigger, The Lost Vikings, Rock & Roll Racing, Homeworld)

Usually I turn the in game music OFF after some time and put on my own tunes. In this case I actually turned the ingame music UP and at times just let it run for a bit because it was just that great.

What I liked
Both the world design and character design are quite good. Most of the (important) characters are reckognizable by their looks and voices. Although I have to wonder why one Orc (Ardek) has a heavy australian (?) accent.

Overall I liked the story. I prefer linear stories to "sandboxy" games like skyrim where you can do anything, but ultimately, nobody cares and there's no lasting impact.

I'm really glad you did not go over the top here. There is a certain amount of violence, as is befitting the theme, but the game does not turn into a gore fest which always ends up being more silly than anything else. So when something really gruesome happens, it still has some impact.

What I have mixed feelings about
While somewhat rudimentary, I thought Styx's stealth system worked pretty well in terms of gameplay. If I did really well I could take out multiple enemies before the fight, if I didn't do well I did not have to reload my save game (hello dishonored, deux ex, etc), but could just attempt to save things with Ark, which usually worked. As far as that goes, stealth worked really, really well.

What I found somewhat silly is that patrols didn't react at all to corpses littering their way. I do realise that in terms of gameplay, this does sort of make sense, but it breaks immersion somewhat.

I both liked and didn't like it. Personally I don't mind combat being more strategic and actually prefer this to something like God of War. The complaint I often read that combat is boring is not one I can subscribe to. The animations in general were good, and I didn't notice much ragdoll silliness as I did in many other games.

One thing I did mind was not all the effects being explained. What does "destabilised" do? What exactly does "bleed" do? Combat in general could do with some tuning for possible sequels. For example, It is quite frustrating to see characters go through full attack routines even if the first attack finished the opponent.

Final Thoughts
Overall I'm at a bit of loss as to why this game was (or at least seems to be) so poorly received. It's honestly one of the more entertaining games of the recent years. After some deliberation I think it might be that Of Orcs and Men is a bit like a "light" version of various genres. This leaves it wide open to people saying things like:
- Dragon Age (or if you're really old, Planescape Torment) is a much better RPG!
- Dishonored (Deus Ex) is a much better stealth game!
- God of War is a much better action game!

I guess what I'm saying that each of these elements feels a little underdeveloped and in the end neither hardcore RPG fans (who expect something that is big on dialogue choices and complicated character developement) nor hardcore stealth fans nor hardcore action fans get exactly what they expect. And that might be enough to put them off. Even if what you get is actually good, if it's not what you expect you are kinda predisposed to disliking it.

Anyway, I don't know how well the game did financially, but I am definetly going to keep an eye out for a possible sequel.
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