Previews
Orc Attack
Humans Must Die!

By Seán O'Sullivan - September 28th, 2012

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As far as four-player beat-em-ups go, Casual Brothers’ Orc Attack may very well be one of the least cerebral. The game’s commitment to the odious nature of its orc protagonists is reflected in the names that have been bestowed upon them. Lord Poop, Friar Krap, Sir Sniff, and Doc Turd may be unconventional names for heroes, but it’s fitting with the flatulence-based special attacks that regularly fill the screen.

Orc Attack casts the favoured fodder of fantasy games in a sympathetic light, and we see them driven off their lands and driven up into the mountains, which are then polluted by the greedy humans (which is apparently the cause of the gastric distress that the orcs then leverage against their aggressors). Over the course of 20 levels, gamers will assume one of four anti-heroes and take on swarms of humans to rid themselves of the invaders.

Combat is instantly accessible – the orcs have heavy and light attacks with which to dispatch foes, and the pleasingly chunky visuals and distinct character designs make it pretty easy to keep track of the action (assisted further by the uniquely coloured orcs). Defeated enemies are ejected from the huddles with theatrical flair – flipping, somersaulting and bouncing off the terrain in a satisfying fashion. Despite the huge numbers that were being thrown at me and my partner, we were tearing through them like hot knives through butter with a few simple combos.

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Even the dead of winter cannot stop fiery farting.

I was impressed by the dynamic camera, which swooped up and around to both players to keep us focused on the action as we were ventured further and further apart in the melee. It’s worth noting that the game funnels the players through tight corridors, drip-feeding enemies until the next bowl-shaped arena enables the camera to maneuver around, at which point the enemies flood in, so it’s more to do with clever design than ingenious camera work. Shields can be picked up to boost defense, and environmental features can be destroyed to collect coins; but it wasn’t made clear if this was for some kind of upgrade system or a high score table.

I saw a few moments in which cooperation was beneficial: some enemies are too tall to be hit with standard attacks, and since the timing involved in jumping and striking is rather tricky, one player can give another a piggy-back to facilitate dishing out damage. When overwhelming amounts of enemies flood the area, one orc’s fart can be combined with another’s fiery burp to cause a screen-clearing combustion. It’s a fun mechanic, but it’s hard not to feel silly when the dialogue between players consists of constant appeals to fart and belch. Casual Brothers have heard enough from those who take umbrage at this toilet humour that they’ve decided to implement a squeaky-clean ‘magic mode’ that replaces the gaseous emissions with spells.

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This game is truly considered a gas.

The wintery level I played concluded with a battle against a giant Snowman who threw snowballs that could be knocked back to chip away at his health bar, until he broke up into a number of smaller snowmen that would scuttle around frantically before reassembling.

Despite how well-put together the game is, I began to tire of the simple button-mash friendly game-play after 20 minutes. Casual Brothers’ Pablo Martin tells me that their intention is not for the game to be marathoned, but enjoyed in 30 minute bursts, ideally with some friends on the couch, or joining in online.

The game is slated for release this holiday season on Xbox Live Arcade, Playstation Network, and PC. The game is patiently awaiting your support on Steam Greenlight, and the team are planning on launching a Kickstarter campaign to increase the amount of single-player content beyond the 20 that are currently on the slate. It’s still too early to tell which way Orc Attack will go; its unique style might be more childish than subversive, and the combat I experienced didn’t introduce enough variety to elevate the game-play above a slog – but there’s enough clear signs of clever design and solid execution to warrant me giving Casual Brothers the benefit of the doubt.

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  2. Posted on Oct 11, 2012

    ohhh.. just won this.. sounds fun.

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