by Sergio Brinkhuis
reviewed on NDS
Besides a small number of weapon and armor upgrades, the game offers a wide range of potions that would make the average American Baseball player go green with envy. Your strength, accuracy, speed and defensive abilities can all be enhanced but the real fun starts with the more exotic potions. My favorite potions include the Troll’s Blood potion that regenerates your health points and the Parasitic Brew that does much the same but is based on damage you do to your foes.
Each type of foe has its own strengths and weaknesses and switching between weapons to deal with the different foes will quickly become second nature. It is not uncommon to enter an area and barely escape alive because you lack the weapon to deal with the type of foe that dwells there. Potions are fairly plentiful but weapons, armor and ammunition are scarce. New items can only be purchased in one place and while the game offers shortcuts to this place on every level, you can’t always get there without having to slay hordes of foes that will tax your supplies to their limits.
The tactical aspect of playing old school RPGs such as this is overlooked by many. Yet the combination of turn-based gameplay, the many ways to defeat the different types of foes and the use of various potions, do benefit from playing with a tactical mindset. At times the number of foes you are facing seems overwhelmingly high but positioning yourself well and drinking the right mix of potions can turn the tables in your favor. Orcs & Elves offers many such challenges and, especially on the harder difficulty levels, occasionally throws you into situations you will only survive by carefully considering each of your actions.
Unfortunately those situations are the only challenges that the game offers. Originally the game was meant to be played on mobile phones. The developers have done a wonderful job porting the game to the DS but a lack of depth and difficulty, common to games for mobile phones, is felt throughout the game. It is a little short too. The story is razor blade thin but that was to be expected as idSoft has never been able to tell a good story. You can rush through the game on a single battery charge but a thorough job that includes unlocking the secret areas and killing all the enemies on a level, will take you a couple of hours more.
That is not to say that Orcs & Elves isn’t worth purchasing. Its gameplay may be simple but it is distracting enough to keep you glued to your DS. The interface feels natural and you will soon find yourself juggling between the stylus and the buttons. Not because the interface is too difficult, but because it makes sense that way.
The graphics are more than fair and definitely a step up from its mobile sibling. And even if the background story isn’t particularly deep, the dialogue is funny enough to cause the occasional chuckle. All things considered, Orcs & Elves is an entertaining title that shows that turn-based RPGs could have a very bright future on Nintendo’s popular handheld.
No Pros and Cons at this time