ORC: Vengeance — A Striking Dungeon Crawler
Orc: Vengeance is an action-RPG in the vein of classics like Diablo or Dungeon Siege. This genre has always been something of a white whale for mobile gaming fans. There were some popular entries in this genre early on in the App Store’s life, but they soon faded in favor of more open-ended and heavily monetized entries. Any upcoming game that shows even a hint of fulfilling the desire for a Diablo-like game often garners a great deal of hype, and very few of them can live up to it when all is said and done.
While Orc: Vengeance wasn’t universally praised by players upon its release, it had a more positive reception than most. After it was updated, it seemed as though most were satisfied with the game. Playing the game, it’s easy to see why. First of all, the game has rather impressive production values given the size of its team. You wouldn’t need to change much for this 2012 game to pass for a modern release, and given the leaps in technology in that time that’s really something. It features full voice acting (of varying quality, it must be said), a proper opening cinematic, nice graphics, good sound design, and an excellent soundtrack.
It takes more than looking and sounding the part, though. Luckily, Orc: Vengeance also plays very well. Its gesture-based controls can be a little tricky to work with depending on how you deal with such set-ups, but the virtual controls work just as you would expect them to in an isometric action-RPG. Moving, attacking, using special skills, and picking up loot are all easy to do thanks to the responsive controls. Bashing in enemy skulls just feels good in the way that is crucial for a game like this.
Loot is another important part of a hack-and-slash action-RPG. Orc: Vengeance offers a wide assortment of weapons and shields, along with plenty of handy gold coins scattered all over the place. You can also pick up new skills and abilities. Loot drops from defeated enemies and can sometimes be found in chests, and an in-game shop offers a wide selection of things to spend your coins on. While more armor slots might have been interesting, there’s plenty of good treasure to be found on your quest for revenge.
The game eschews the more common open-world, deep-dungeon approach for the genre in favor of discrete stages. This was done in consideration of the needs of mobile players, breaking the game into digestible chunks. The story is comprised of a number of acts, each containing a set number of stages. You can go back and replay stages if you want, but the story itself is a linear one. The big update to the game added some secret stages that can be accessed from the existing bunch, giving players incentive to go back and explore. While the game overall isn’t terribly long compared to some games in the genre, it feels largely satisfying in its scope and pace.
In terms of upgrades, you have quite a few options open to you. Whenever main character Rok levels up, you can assign points to increase the stats of your choice. You can also upgrade skills, weapons, and armor if you have the resources to do so. Rok does have a level cap, so you won’t be able to max out everything which makes your choices meaningful. A lot of games that attempt this genre on mobile don’t lean hard enough into the RPG aspects, but Orc: Vengeance finds a nice middle ground, giving you plenty of things to grind and upgrade without going too far into the weeds.
The story makes a good effort, and while it doesn’t exactly stick the landing with its ending, it’s still interesting enough to keep you occupied as you battle your way through the game. It starts off really strong, at least. If you manage to find all of the hidden lore, you get a good sense of the world and the overall back story that led to the events of the game.
Orc: Vengeance is a well-made game that has a lot of appeal to anyone who enjoys a good dungeon-crawl action-RPG, and its relatively short existence on the App Store makes it a real hidden gem. Fans of RPGs will find a lot to love here, even if it’s a little on the brief side compared to the full-scale PC games it evokes. If nothing else, playing this sort of game from an orc’s point of view is rather novel. The epic journey of Rok the orc warchief and his quest for revenge still stands as an impressive achievement in mobile RPGs, and is well-worth playing today.