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Orc Vengeance Review: Hacky, Slashy Fun

Orc: Vengeance from Big Cave Games and Chillingo is far from the first Diablo-like game to make its way to iOS;  as far back as 2009, Gameloft’s Dungeon Hunter was offering up a combat-fueled Diablo clone. But Orc: Vengeance makes up for it by casting you in the role of a green-skinned killing machine, and then inviting you into a good-looking, fast-paced  hack-n-slash world. It’s worth a look despite some flaws.

Orc: Vengeance goes straight for the Diablo look and feel, and it does a decent job of providing a Diablo-like experience. Rok’s quest is to restore the glory of his people from the oppressive Dark One (no, seriously, that’s his name) that has driven them underground. It’s a pretty straightforward plot, but it keeps the game moving through dungeons, temples, and forests.

Like the original Dungeon Hunter, and unlike the more recent Diablo entries, there’s only one character to play: Rok, the titular orc. But you are able to customize him via level enhancement and choice of equipment. It’s a pretty simple leveling system that boils down to “make him hit harder, faster,” but that’s okay — this isn’t an RPG. It’s a combat game, and Orc: Vengeance delivers combat in spades.

Truly, in the moment, the game does a great job of matching that hack-n-slash RPG feel. There’s plenty of monsters to fight, and Rok slowly builds up a fun list of powers to slay them with. Plenty of skeletons die early on; but as the game continues you’ll face all the fantasy standards like spiders, goblins, and demons. Each level of the game is designed to be small enough to play quickly, with plenty of checkpoints for saving, so you’ll rarely lose progress. The game can feel a little grindy at times, but that’s the nature of games like this, and there’s always a boss or two lurking on each level to keep things interesting.

Visually, the game does a great job of evoking the gritty, sword-and-sorcery look of the Diablo games. Shadows are deep, lighting effects are well-cast, and important objects usually stand out so as not to be missed. It’s a step above even the most recent Dungeon Hunter game. I preferred playing the game on my larger iPad screen just to better follow the action, but it looked a lot better on my iPhone 4S. I can only imagine how good the game looks on a new iPad.

The biggest blemish on this otherwise fun game is the controls. They are not my favorite. It’s tap-to-move and tap-to-target, and while I understand the need to make use of touch on a touch device, for these sort of console and PC style games I really prefer virtual d-pads, especially on the iPad. The swiping gestures for special attacks were especially annoying, as they didn’t always work. I also don’t like how his default movement is a plodding walk; you have to tap-and-hold to get him to run, which just increases the time your thumbs are sometimes covering the screen.

If you can get past the sometimes awkward controls, Orc: Vengeance rewards you with lots of hack-and-slash fun. Like the Dungeon Hunter games, the plotline is inconsequential and you probably won’t remember it half the time, but that’s not the point; the point is to smash heads and become epicly powerful. Give it a try.

Our Score: 4 out of 5

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