by Derk Bil
previewed on PC
Ready and able
You will get in all sorts of hairy situations and having two characters to control can be rather daunting, especially as combat is done in real time rather than turn-based. Fortunately, the game speed can be slowed down to give you more time to make the decision to switch between characters to issue new commands.
As the game progresses, so does the difficulty. While there should always be more than one way to win a fight, the game will really push the player to use more of the green team’s abilities and stances during its later stages. Styx can engage in melee or throw knives from a distance, but his ultimate strength is sneaking up to people and assassinate them with a well-placed backstab. A useful move early on, but during the later stages, enemies may bring along hounds that have the ability to sniff out stealthy Goblins, preventing Styx from using his backstab move.
There’s no hiding for the hulking Arkaïl so he has developed both a defensive and an offensive stance. In a defensive stance he basically keeps enemies occupied as much as he can, limiting the damage he suffers and waiting for Styx to deliver the fatal blows. In his offensive stance, he’s more likely to take damage but he will dish out a lot more himself as well. You will need to be careful though. If Arkaïl’s takes too much of a beating, his amassed rage will reach a critical point where you will lose all control over his actions. This will increase the damage he deals, decrease the damage he takes, but he will attack anything that moves, even Styx.
Death is not the end
Should one of the two characters succumb, it does not mean the end to the game. Both characters possess the ability to revive the other and health regenerates quickly without needing to fiddle around with potions.
Though the roles of Arkaïl and Styx are predetermined, the ways in which they perform them are not. Gained stat points can be distributed at will using a basic stats system that shows you which stats affect your character and how. It may be quite inviting to raise the strength and stamina on Arkaïl in order to further increase his damage and hit points but increasing his agility will make him more evasive. The choice is yours.
The different armor and weapon sets in the game vary from basic to pretty damn badass but finding the latter will be rare. Items will not drop like candy so picking up something cool will actually feel like a worthwhile find. There is no currency in the game but items will have a trade value and, as the inventory space is limitless, you don’t have to worry about running out of things to trade with.
Showing off the goods
If you stay on the beaten path, a single play-through of Of Orcs and Men takes about fifteen to twenty hours. The game is divided into different chapters and each provides opportunities to do some serious side-questing, adding another twenty-five hours to mix. That’s a lot of fun-filled adventuring. I’m already getting into the mood and have green paint sitting on my desk, waiting to be used when the game comes out this September.