This is a long review so if you want just a brief summary of why I recommend Orcs Must Die! then skip to Results and read from there.
Robot Entertainment mixes elements of different game types to conjure up a brilliant rendition of the tower defense genre. Taking action packed battles and mixing them with strategy you get a game that pushes both hack ‘n slash as well as base management. Story:
The order has fallen, the last War Mage is dead, and protecting the realm is now left up to you his apprentice. You must fight your way through the unlimited hordes of orcs as you defend the rifts from falling into the wrong hands. As you press through your adventure you come to learn the evil forces are being led by a corrupted War Mage who plans to destroy humanity. Will you be able to save the world from falling into darkness? Campaign:
The campaign is broken down into three acts. The first act has ten levels, the second act has 8, and the third act has 6. Despite each act having fewer levels than the last they are all about the same length as the number of waves increases throughout the campaign. Each level unlocks a new element to the game and once you’ve completed the level you gain the new item for any preceding or future level. Each time you beat a level you get a rating of one to five skulls, unlike most games these skulls actually are given to you as a currency which you can use to upgrade items. You can only get five skulls per level, meaning you cannot beat a level scoring five skulls then play it again to get another five skulls. Each level you can choose from a mastery tree that allows you to kit yourself out for that level, based on your strategies this can vary greatly throughout the campaign. You will progressively unlock more tower/item slots, which start as you only being able to equip three towers/items but later on you’ll find yourself with 10+ slots. You play the entire game in third person, and similar to other games of the genre you are able to join in the battle and help your towers out. This means you are not just sitting there waiting between waves, but rather taking an active part into the gameplay. Some levels you may find yourself not needing to join in, while others you will be right in the fray. Gameplay:
Each level allows you to equip an inventory which allows you to choose from a combination of spells, weapons, and towers. There are two weapons (crossbow and bladestaff), four spells (flame bracers, ice amulet, lightning ring, and wind belt), two guardians (paladins and archers), and 17 towers. I found myself typically sticking to the same set throughout the entire campaign, but there are many different strategies you can go for. By placing player activated traps you can take a large part of the game, you can sit back and use guardians to do most of the work, or even mix and match. The gameplay is fast paced and really pulls you into the mix by getting you to experience new elements each level. Artifacts of Power DLC:
Artifacts of Power is a DLC that includes new items and towers. The DLC includes two traps (Shock Zapper and Floor Scorcher) and two spells (Vampiric Gauntlets and Alchemist Satchel). I used the Floor Scorcher and Vampiric Gauntlets a few times, found the Shock Zapper completely useless (as you need a roof for it to function), and used the Alchemist Satchel to get a +50 kill streak for the achievement. All and all this DLC isn’t exactly necessary, but if you can get it on sale and included in the pack it’s worth grabbing. Lost Adventures DLC:
Lost Adventures is a DLC that includes new level, enemies, and even a new tower. There are five new levels, which offer more skulls allowing for even more upgrades. There are two new enemies the Frost Bat, and Cyclops Mage. It also includes one new trap the mana well which allows you to refill your mana gauge. This DLC is completely worth it as it adds additional content, new enemies, towers, and refined leaderboards. If you can get this on sale or in the bundle you will not regret it. Results:
Orcs Must Die is an epic tower defense hack ‘n slash game that keeps you pressed and wanting more. With rating systems that actually give you rewards, fun and interesting enemies, a long and arduous campaign, and an amusing little story Orcs Must Die is a Must Buy (too easy). If you are looking for something similar to Sang-Froid or Sanctum this is pretty much in that line. Once you beat Orcs Must Die you’ll feel like you need to buy the second one as it makes you just want to play more.
+Leaderboard system that allows you to rank yourself amongst friends.
+Level rating out of five skulls which can then be used to buy upgrades.
+Loads of spells, weapons, and towers to choose from.
+Skill trees which can be customized each level to allow you to change how you play (more player intensive, tower support, or mixture of both).
+Smooth graphics which look good and don’t push it too far.
+Funny and amusing dialogue which gives you a laugh without being offensive.
+Intense amount of action, keeps you pressed and fighting between each wave.
+Built in level traps (such as rolling locks, acid pots, lava pots, and ballista).
-I had a few levels glitch where an enemy wouldn’t leave the spawn point and thus I couldn’t kill it requiring me to restart (this was annoying if it was at the end of the level).
-If Gnoll Hunters fall into acid pits they do not die (as I learned when I set up a level that used nearby acid pits to kill enemies).
-One of the DLC levels (Reverse Tower) is just The Tower in Reverse. I know this is obvious from the title, but if you purchase the DLC before playing the game its disappointing to find out one of the levels is the same thing just backwards.