by Derk Bil, reviewed on
Arkaïl and Styx
Sylvain Sechi, lead designer on Of Orcs and Men at Cyanide studios, was at Gamescom to demonstrate his brain-child. Being the only non-French speaker in the room, I really appreciated that Sylvain did the presentation in English. Merci, pour faire votre présentation en Anglais, Sylvain! And that’s pretty much the extent of my French, so back to English it is.
Of Orcs and Men tells the tale of the mighty Orc warrior Arkaïl and his stealthy Goblin companion Styx. Together they embark on a quest for peace between greenskins and humanity, which they believe can be achieved by ridding the world of the vile emperor Damocles… And everyone else that will stand in their way of course.
Mere moments into the game, human mages will come to the aid of the two unlikely heroes but that is one of the few times that the two will be joined by others. And humans? They are generally there for one purpose only: to die by your green hand.
You can switch between Arkaïl and Styx at any time - even during dialog - and when you do, you influence the course of the game. No examples were given, but we were promised a noticeably different experience if you let either the Orc or the Goblin do all the talking, and different again when you make it a mix of both.
A more tangible aspect of the effects of switching between the two characters can be found in the different styles of play that each brings. While Arkaïl may be strong enough to bash in your average door, a reinforced one won’t budge so easily. A small opening in a fence nearby could let Styx through so he can open the door from the other side.
This difference in stature between the two heroes can be used to your advantage in other ways as well. A cool move for the two is having the big Orc toss poor little Styx behind enemy lines. If all works out as you planned, Arkaïl can go toe-to-toe with the enemies while Styx picks them off one by one from behind. It may sound a little bit Lord-of-the-Ringsey, but that doesn’t make it any less cool to pull off. Most of the combat is fairly straight-forward but as you can see from the above example, there are many creative ways to approach encounters. If you play your cards right, almost any way you choose to tackle a situation will be a valid way of doing so.