Orgarhythm is an RTS/Rhythm game that features a “God” character controlling certain types of troops as you charge into battle. By tapping to the beat of a song you can issue commands to your troops as you walk through a guided stage until ultimately confronting a boss. In Orgarhythm your army is divided into three elemental types: Earth, Fire, and Water. Enemies share these elements thus creating a rock, paper, scissors mentality when engaging in battle. There are four ways to handle each enemy encounter and most of the time there’s one specific way that will work while the others will leave your army running in circles.
For example you might come across enemies that are behind barriers and thus you’ll need to command your troops to use their ranged attack. Each troop can either preform melee, ranged, catapult or a sacrifice move. The sacrifice seemed to be used for distraction purposes but I never really found a reason to use it ever. Aside from commanding your troops you can also use your powers to grant attack and defense buffs as well as heal yourself or your troops.
Using only the touch screen you issue commands by first tapping on the “God” character, then tapping to the left, right, top or bottom of him to choose a troop type, and then again to choose an attack type. After choosing all of these things you’ll then drag across the screen to choose where you want your troops to go. You have to do that on time with the beat which will grant you anywhere from “Bad” to “Perfect”. If you’re able to combo “Perfects” in succession you’ll not only raise the level of your troops but you’ll also gain more troops with a max of 16 for each element. Considering that you start with 4 of each this is something you will want to build up quickly. This probably sounds a little confusing if you’re reading this but the in-game tutorial does a good job of explaining step by step how everything works. However in practice, as I’ll explain later, I think there are a lot of issues that arise with this setup.
Orgarhythm’s controls can be complex and as you progress through the game’s twelve stages, the speed in which you need to keep with the rhythm is only going to get faster. While you keep track of the rhythm in each level you also need to be thinking a few steps ahead. You need to watch to see what enemies await and decide not only what elemental troop to send out but also what type of attack you want them to do. You also need to focus on building up your army in preparation for the boss fight at the end of the level, as well as watching the health of each member of your army to make sure you’re not taking casualties.
Ultimately I think that when you create a RTS and Rhythm hybrid that features complex controls for one aspect, you’ll run into the problem that the other half feels lacking. Rhythmically I think the game is mostly fine. However, I mostly couldn’t shake the feeling that I just didn’t have the control I wanted over the RTS aspect of the game. In the moments that my troops randomly ran off in one direction I found myself needing to repeatedly call them back over to me.
I can not begin to explain how annoying it is to watch my fire elementals run head first into a group of water elementals without me having issued any sort of command to do so. All this does is add one more thing that I need to worry about in a game. There were other times where I’d send my troops to set up a catapult only for them to run continuously into a wall and do nothing while wasting some very precious time. It wasn’t a constant occurrence but when things like that happened it was annoying.
I also grew to hate the fact that I couldn’t target enemies. You can direct your troops to a location on the map but you can’t say “Hey, go attack THIS group of enemies”. What happens is once your troops are in range they’ll start to attack but you can not specifically make this command. There were many times where my troops would walk right on past the enemy only to turn around and run back to them to engage in battle. This again would waste valuable time that I needed.
If you follow me on twitter you probably saw me mentioning this a lot, it took me a really long time to get a grip on keeping with the beat of the game. I’m not sure why it happened considering I usually never have an issue with these sorts of things, but in the beginning I had a world of trouble tapping the commands at the correct time. Ultimately I did finally “get it” at around the sixth stage of the game. Each level has full on instrumental tracks, which are all really excellent. The game requires that you really listen for a few seconds to get the beat down. From there it’s a matter of knowing whether you should tap slow or fast. I found eventually I had to almost ignore part of the RTS aspect and just focus on making sure I was keeping on beat. I’m usually fine with multitasking but it felt like the game was asking a bit too much of me.
The single player portion of the game is setup with a twelve stage campaign. The first six stages all feature different bosses with some requiring that you use range attacks and the back half feature upgraded versions of the previous bosses. Some of these bosses are pushovers and others are a little more challenging. To the game’s credit a good handful of each boss encounter does require strategy to take down and can be rewarding when you manage to score a victory. That said it was a little disappointing to see the back half mostly copy and paste the previous boss encounters with just a few minor differences. Each stage can be played on Casual, Normal or Hard and each will score you on multiple elements. I personally only managed mostly A ranks but there’s a trophy for getting S ranks on all levels and difficulties.
You’ll also earn experience points to level up and unlock special abilities to equip to a one-slot loadout for each stage. These range from adding an extra four troops to an element at the start of a stage or increasing the amount of damage done by your troops. I finished the game at around level sixteen and that’s not even half of what you could unlock so with that and the added Hard difficulty there’s definitely reason to go back and keep playing. Orgarhythm also includes a co-op and versus mode that utilizes ad-hoc play on the Vita. Meaning that if you don’t know someone locally who also is playing this game you won’t be able to check it out.
There are moments, albeit few and far between, where the game clicks with me and I’m having a really good time with it. But between battling with the mechanics of the game and the constant annoyance of my warriors running off on their own Orgarhythm makes it really tough to thoroughly enjoy. That said, Orgarhythm isn’t completely bad. It’s a very challenging game that will take a lot of time to master but when you do master each level it is a very rewarding game.
There are a lot of good ideas included and on paper I think the game sounds fantastic. It’s in practice where things begin to fall apart. I wanted to really like this game and I’d be lying if I said I didn’t at least enjoy my time with it. Instead of wanting to go back to Orgarhythm time and time again I’m just left happy to be done with it. I probably won’t play much of it after writing this review and after going into it hoping for a really solid game that alone kind of bums me out.
A copy of this game was provided by the publisher for review purposes. For more info on our review policy click here. This review is for the PlayStation Vita version of the game.
What I Like:
- The concept itself is great and when it works is fun.
- Nearly every song in the game is really great.
- It can be rewarding at times.
- Challenging and offers some replay value.
What I Dislike:
- Watching troops randomly run off towards stronger enemies without me commanding them to do so.
- Calling back troops demands that I forfeit my combo.
- The sudden shift in tone during boss fights screwing up the beat.
- At times it felt too complex.
- Back half of the campaign reusing previous boss fights.
- Limiting multiplayer to local only means I'll likely never be able to try that portion of the game out.