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Orgarhythm

Score: 70%
ESRB: Everyone 10+
Publisher: XSEED Games
Developer: Acquire
Media: Download/1
Players: 1 - 2 (Local Only)
Genre: Strategy/ Rhythm

Graphics & Sound:

Orgarhythm is an extremely strange game. That thought remained in my head from the moment I first loaded it up to the last time I put it down. This isn't the first rhythm/strategy hybrid, though it is certainly one of the only ones out there. The ideas are interesting and the game's production values are definitely up to snuff. However, none of it comes together to form a cohesive whole, rendering Orgarhythm an exercise in chaos.

Orgarhythm is neither technically nor artistically top in class, but it has an organic look to it that complements the natural motif that permeates the entire game. The color codings stand out and support the rock-paper-scissors elemental relationships. Unfortunately, the action looks as engaging as it is during gameplay -- that is to say, not at all. The God of Light marches at an agonizingly slow speed and his assorted flavor minions are the polar opposite of flashy in combat. Whether engaging in close quarters fisticuffs or picking off baddies from a distance, none of it has any impact or gives you the sense that you're in the least bit involved.

Like Patapon before it, Orgarhythm depends on its sound design to fuel the gameplay. Luckily, the soundtrack is vibrant and primal -- an absolute must for a game that requires you to do a lot of finger tapping. Jethro Tull-esque panflute glissandos and pulsing rhythms go a long way in establishing the game's religious tone. Every little thing you do is accompanied by a little aural flourish, whether it's the aforementioned taps or the plinking of keys when you draw the line that deploys your troops.


Gameplay:

Orgarhythm earns the bizarre distinction of being an on-rails strategy game. That might not make sense at first, but it's really the only way to describe the gameplay. You do not assume direct control over anything, though your role is that of the Light God. He has command over three distinct types of minions: red, yellow, and blue. Each signifies a certain elemental power. Your job is to use these minions to keep the Light God safe as he marches across the land to a number of pulse-pounding tunes.

So how do you do that if your influence is minimal? That's where the music comes in. As the beat rages on, you must time your commands to ensure that they will be followed as efficiently as possible. It requires a good deal of tapping and swiping, perhaps more than you've ever done with your Vita. If you think this sounds gimmicky, well, it kind of is. But it does what it does well enough to make it worth a look.

Orgarhythm features ad hoc multiplayer. The jury is still out on it, as I currently live in a town where I may very well be the only Vita owner, much less one who owns a copy of Orgarhythm.


Difficulty:

Orgarhythm's biggest problem lies in its pick-up-and-play appeal. There isn't so much of a learning curve as there is a handful of sequences that require a bit of memorization. The interface changes with each tap; different choices present themselves almost every second, provided you're keeping the beat well enough. So if you want your water minions to use their catapult, you'll have to tap the icons as they appear and with the beat. As each new mechanic and ability is introduced, you'll find yourself sacrificing extra beats just to learn where each command is. Granted, the more you play, the easier it is for you to remember where everything shows up. It's just weird to see a game rely so heavily on muscle memory.

Orgarhythm also suffers from a lack of replayability. This is not a long game. Lots of music-inspired games tend to cross the finish line far too early (Rez, Child of Eden), but I was left wanting with this one. I was hoping for new minions and abilities to become available, but I was disappointed to find that I had seen all there was to see (excepting the multiplayer, of course) in under seven hours.


Game Mechanics:

The enemies in Orgarhythm are aligned with a certain element. If they are red, they are strong against fire and weak against water. If they are blue, they are strong against water and weak against earth. If they are yellow, they are strong against earth but weak against fire. Knowing which troops to use is only half the battle. Enemy placement is another factor to consider: if they are out of range, you might want to use archery or catapult attacks.

Regardless of the type of music that graces each individual stage, each one contains a distinguishable rhythm with accentuated downbeats. Timing your inputs to coincide with these downbeats is the key to success in Orgarhythm, as it levels your power up.

So what kinds of commands are we working with as the Light God? Well, first you must identify the troop type that you want to deploy. Then you must select the attack type. Finally, you deploy them manually. The first two are handled with simple icon tapping. Actually telling them where to go requires a swipe of the finger; this traces your intended destination. Then you just sit back and watch the magic. It's a slow process that doesn't feel as involving as it should, but it's definitely an interesting way to play.

Orgarhythm is nothing if not unique, and it deserves to be played. However, its slow pacing and unsatisfying combat may put some people off. Furthermore, at the asking price, you don't get enough bang for your buck. Try before you buy.


-FenixDown, GameVortex Communications
AKA Jon Carlos

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