PAX Prime 2012: Orc Attack hands-on
Hoping to follow in the vein of other zany, light hearted co-op brawlers, Orc Attack is the debut title from UK based indie studio, Casual Brothers. In a slight twist on the perpetual orc vs. human conflict, Orc Attack differentiates itself by making the humans the villains. After years of pollution brought on by men, the orcs have become poisoned, and thus, afflicted with explosive flatulence.
When I was told by Pablo Martin, Managing Director of Casual Brothers, that the central mechanic of Orc Attack was burping and farting in unison with your co-op partners, I was quite honestly turned off. Juvenile humor, especially when it consists of bodily functions, can be an incredibly difficult act to pull off well. And unfortunately, Orc Attack felt more crass than clever, which might attract a younger audience, but could alienate older gamers that might feel embarrassed playing it.
What was impressive about Orc Attack was the sheer number of characters the screen could accommodate. Martin told me the engine could handle up to 60 enemies at a time, in addition to the four player controlled characters. The results can be chaotic when combined with the title’s close-in camera, so much so that it’s easy to lose track of your character, despite their hulking size and brightly colored skin.
During the level I demoed, most of the combat revolved around huge mobs of humans. Stringing together three light attacks and finishing up with a looping heavy attack formed a simple go-to combo, but, as I got lost in the fray, I rarely felt like the sequence of my attacks really mattered. At various points in the demo I found myself mindlessly hitting attack buttons since I couldn’t really tell who I was hitting, or if I was taking any damage.
As for the flatulent co-op, each orc has a different ability associated with their bodily functions. In my case, the red orc, named Doc Turd, burped fire, which triggered a large explosion when combined with a partner’s fart cloud. Burping and farting both require mana, so it’s in your interest to alert your teammates when you’re about to let either rip. Now I can’t speak for the other players, but announcing that I was about to burp or fart wasn’t exactly something I relished doing, so I let my co-op partners set the stage and I did the deed when needed.
At the end of the demo the three of us took on an evil snowman. Martin and I used the remaining mana we had to break him apart with our explosive gas. As the snowman scattered into tinier snowmen we hacked away at them, slowly depleting the boss’ health. However, once we ran out of mana, there was no easy way to break the snowman down. From this point we had to hit snowballs back at the boss, which became a tedious practice thanks to the slow rate-of-fire and the fact that we had to wait for projectiles to come our way as the boss alternated between the three of us.
In its current form Orc Attack impresses with its tech but underwhelms with its gameplay. Tucked beneath its puerile veneer is the basis for a solid 3D brawler, but it remains to be seen whether the average player will embrace the title’s shtick, or not. Martin assured me the game was still a work in-progress and that some of the issues would be resolved before Orc Attack launches later this year.