What would you get if you crossbred a FPS, MOBA, tower defense game and strategy game into one? Quite frankly, it might look something like Robot Entertainment’s free-to-play Orcs Must Die! Unchained (OMDU). OMDU is a fantasy, team action defense game where your goal is to “slice them, burn them, skewer them and launch them - no matter how” because in the end “Orcs must die”! In response to Gimli’s quote, “Surely Even Orcs Must Pause On The March?” the answer in this game is no, these Orcs don’t pause! This is our PlayStation 4 review of Orcs Must Die! Unchained.
OMDU is a free-to-play, multiplayer tower defense game that is set in a comical fantasy setting. For the most part, the game’s premise is “simple”. Lay down traps, barricades, etc. to protect your rift from Orcs, minions, bosses, etc. that come at you in increasingly difficult waves. Between each wave you’re awarded in-game currency to spend on laying down more traps, Guardian NPCs and the like. During the setting of your traps, barricades, etc. “phantom Orcs” are shown running through the stage showing you their expected pathing all so you can plan accordingly. This is where the strategy part comes in. Where do you set your limited resources, at the beginning where the horde enters the “room”, near the rift itself, etc. Graphically speaking the game’s colors and artwork will remind many of something in the line of World Of Warcraft’s cartoony art style. Nevertheless, it’s pleasant to look at and it fits the comical, not too serious tone set into place by the game’s voice overs, commentator, victory dances, etc.
You start the game as War Mage Maximilian equipped with a magical crossbow. Right away you're thrown into a five-level tutorial which introduces the game’s concepts. It appeared that you could skip the tutorial, but playing through it seemed worthwhile. Playing the tutorial helps introduce the “Orcs Must Die!” game concepts plus each level awards several “cards” from the game’s deck system, e.g. barricade traps, floor spikes, brimstone tiles, a Guardian (defense) NPC, etc.
After leaving the tutorial you’re given three heroes, Maximilian (ranger-like), Gabriella (ranged, arcane) and Blackpaw (melee). Each hero has their own level up skills and traits and provide various methods of play, e.g. Blackpaw is an in-your-face melee type so health management was more important versus using a ranged character like Maximilian where you can stay out of harm’s way, for the most part.
After the tutorial, you’ll hit a landing page. From the landing page, you can choose to play several variants of the game. Choices are “Survival Mode” where you must survive waves of Orcs in classic Orcs Must Die! style, either solo or as a team of up to three players. “Sabotage” mode is unlocked at account level 5, this is a 4-6 player team vs. team mode, PvP battlegrounds mode. “Endless” is a mode where you must face a never-ending onslaught of enemies and survive if you can, again solo or up to a team of three. There is also a “Weekly Challenge” for 1-3 players along with a leaderboard. Additionally, there is an ongoing community event were community (group) goals are set, players take part and community event chests are awarded. Lastly, there is the expected forthcoming, any day now, “Chaos Trials” which is a new, survival-based game mode to go either solo or for up to a team of 3 players. If “Chaos Trials” are implemented on PlayStation like the other platforms then they will “bring the chaos and dynamic play of Sabotage mode and the problem-solving of Weekly Challenges to Survival gameplay. Available to teams of 1-3 players, Chaos Trials offer lucrative rewards for conquering a series of increasingly difficult challenges”. These new trials would be accessed with “Chaos Keys” that are occasionally discovered while playing matches in all other game modes, or earned as a daily login reward.
The game has a card-like deck system as mentioned, typically most cards are earned through chests attained through gameplay or purchased (Yes Virginia, there is an in-game store). Cards exist for traps, parts, heroes (17 total currently), gear, guardians (NPC guards), hero traits and consumables. There are two forms of game currency, the debatable “gold” (real money purchasable) and skulls (attainable by playing or through conversion of gold). Without getting into another debate on the “pay-to-win” topic, the in-game store ranges from chests, heroes, hero skins (currently 17 total) and consumables. Consumables range from various potions, team scrolls, resurrection scroll, etc. and tucked away at the bottom of the scrollable page is the highly debatable “experience potion”. Heroes can be bought with gold or skulls, while hero skins can only be purchased with gold. Most consumables can be purchased with both, including the experience potion. Also thrown into the mix are “Battle Passes”, they come in 1,3,7, and 30 days expiration. These yield 25% XP bonus, double skull rewards and 5% XP bonus for teammates (which is a nice add for this type of purchase). And lastly, there is a “Premium Shoppe” where chests and cool gear can be bought with “Gibs”, perhaps short for “Giblets”? Gibs are a form of currency that is awarded in lieu of more duplicate surplus trap parts or tier 7 cards as you can only hold so many of each type. Purchasable chests come in the variety of “trap parts”, different vanity chests, consumable item chests or event chests. Also, as is typical of many F2P games, there are daily login rewards.
The” Workshop” is essentially where your inventory is checked and this is also where you can upgrade cards, hero traits, etc. The game also throws in achievement and guild support.
Overall this is an enjoyable game that can be taken in stages. If you were a fan of the original Orcs Must Die! than you should have no trouble enjoying this version especially with all the added on-line play modes. Overall, the game is a blast to play! Even if you’re new to the series, if you can handle the strategy and furious character movement of defense games, then you can’t go wrong with this colorful, comical fun feast that you’ll also be able to enjoy with friends!
Note: Our copy was reviewed on PlayStation 4 with a code provided by PR.
- Comical fantasy setting
- Many different modes of play
- Just plain fun
- Some purchasable items locked behind real money transaction