by Sergio Brinkhuis
reviewed on NDS
Not your average idSoft game
idSoft. When I mention that name, most of you will be thinking of Quake, Doom and Castle Wolfenstein. One of the oldest developers still in business today, the company is known for creating First Person Shooters that have players shoot Nazi's, Demons and Aliens. As a result, I was a little surprised when I first saw Orcs & Elves in action last August and had a PR representative from EA tell me that it came from the hands of John Carmack and friends. I simply had never imagined that they would dive into the realms of fantasy and embrace the Roleplaying genre.
Having played and finished the game it makes a little more sense to me how it came to be. Orcs & Elves in many ways resembles idSoft classics such as Doom and Quake in both design and gameplay mechanics. There are no Plasma Rifles or Shotguns to be found here but if you substitute these for wands, crossbows and swords, you come a long way in picturing what the game is about. It doesn't quite do it justice though.
Inspired by the classics
The inspiration for the game goes deeper than Doom and Quake. While playing I kept thinking back to an old RPG classic (and one of my all time favorites) Eye of the Beholder where a team of heroes is gathered to find out what is going on underneath the city of Waterdeep. In Orcs & Elves you play only one person, accompanied by a talking wand that interacts between you and NPCs that you will encounter along the way.
There is no dialogue from your own character, so you might as well -be- the wand. But it is a nice touch of the developers, integrating a guide through the Dwarven mountain that provides the setting for the game. Your task is to reach the Dwarven King, find out what happened to his mountain-kingdom and defeat the evil that caused his downfall.
Orcs & Elves plays much like classics such as the aforementioned Eye of the Beholder and Lands of Lore. The player navigates through a 3D world in one of four directions, North, East, South or West. Only walls, objects and enemies can bar you from going into a particular direction though the occasional locked door will need to be unlocked before continuing.
Your enemies have the same restrictions though they can often be numerous and will try to surround you to attack from all sides. That does sound like a big advantage for the lone adventurer that you control, but normally your enemies don’t have access to items to enhance their skills and abilities.
No Pros and Cons at this time