I’ll admit it, when I was first approached by our Editor-in-Chief to review Orgarhythm for the PS Vita I was reluctant, if not a little intimidated, when I found out that it was a hybrid RTS/rhythm game. I could not quite grasp how it would work and I thought it would be difficult to explain, let alone review. Add to this that I am not particularly skilled at RTS games, and I do seem to lack some rhythm skills with dance and music games certainly not my favourite genre. I imagined myself becoming frustrated and not enjoying myself at all. Thankfully, those fears were unfounded.
Orgarhythm was quite easy to master, even for someone like myself; however, being the stubborn, arrogant gamer that I am, I jumped immediately into the game thinking I would easily figure out what to do and I failed miserably. I then took the time to play through the numerous tutorials, which I highly recommend you do too, and I discovered that the controls are simple to learn and I started to gain an appreciation of everything the game included. Gameplay is very straightforward. It is your standard good versus evil premise as you take control of the God of Light who is battling against the God of Darkness. Accompanied by three groups of soldiers, representing the elements water, fire, and earth, the God of Light dances his way through the level on a set path, commanding his soldiers to face off against the opposing forces who mirror them.
I was quite surprised to find that only the touch screen and rear touch pad of the Vita are used, as there are no button inputs at all. Surprisingly these controls work quite well. As I played I thought the controls were very responsive and made the game more enjoyable. Selecting and deploying your units is done in a series of taps and swipes of the touch screen. A series of three taps is what it takes to get things going. You tap the God of Light, tap the color unit you wish to use, and then tap the type of unit. To advance your unit you simply swipe your finger in the direction you wish to send them. Longer swipes to the screen will send a larger group. Tapping the rear touch screen four times will recall your troops. There are four different units available, which unlock as the game progresses. You start out with a melee class, then archers, catapults and then finally sacrificial units.
The three elements interact with one another in a Rock-Paper-Scissors pattern. Each unit has an elemental strength and weakness. Of course you could use all of the warriors against the enemy, but the battle can be pushed in your favour by noting the enemy’s element and then sending out troops that will counter it. Water is stronger against fire, fire stronger against earth, and earth stronger against water. There is also a very handy icon that references the pattern in the top right corner should you forget.
The God of Light does not fight as he aids his subjects with support. He does however have a health bar that must be monitored. As enemies and his own warriors are defeated a gauge increases with support points. To access the support abilities you simply tap the God of Light, tap the grey support icon, and then select the ability to use. He can heal his allies and himself, slow the enemy, increase defense or raise his warriors attack power. When the God of Light’s support gauge is completely filled, an additional skill unlock, called the Lightning of Judgement, becomes available which damages enemies and heals allies.
Here is where the rhythm element of the game comes into play. When performing the tri-tapping to select your units, you must attempt to do so to the rhythm of the music. Perfectly timed taps will reward you as your units level up and this gives you access to more troops and better music. Failing to stick with the beat will result in your army being small and weak and will make the game somewhat more difficult for you.
While the controls are quite simple to master, the game is certainly challenging. The God of Light movement is on rails, so you are limited as to where you can move your troops on the map. You are faced with numerous enemies in your path through the each level as well as multiple units. You must think fast as to what element and what unit to use as well as where to send them, all the while protecting the God of Light and keeping to the beat of the music. As you can imagine, boss fights can get a little hectic. At the end of each level you are graded on things like how long it took you to finish the level, your use of combos, your tap average and tap score. This final grade is used to increase your Skill Level, which unlocks upgraded skills.
There is a multiplayer element, however, it was ad-hoc co-op and versus only. Unfortunately, I did not have the opportunity to give this a try as none of my Vita owning friends have the game. I must say though that the use of ad-hoc multiplayer is a bit disappointing considering there are multiplayer trophies to acquire. I think this would be a great game to play with a friend online.
The music is probably one of the best aspects of Orgarythm, with techno, rock and club-like beats setting the stage. I often found myself dancing in my seat and tapping my toes along with music. I highly suggest using a set of headphones or being in a quiet place not only keep with the beat but to listen to the awesome soundtrack. In regards to the visuals, the graphics are certainly nothing spectacular, but given the type of game the simplicity is appreciated, as it doesn’t distract from the action.
At a price of $29.99 I believe that some may find Orgarhythm a bit pricey given that the game is somewhat short, and there is no online multiplayer to extend your experience; however, there is some replay value if you are looking to unlock more in-game skills while improving on your previous scores. The enemy AI change their tactics with each play through too, so it does add a bit of an incentive to play the levels again. There is also upcoming DLC that will include fan-created music! At the end of the day Orgarhythm is a very strange combination of genres indeed, but it is quite enjoyable and the controls are surprisingly simple to master. With a fantastic soundtrack and challenging addictive gameplay, it is pretty much a must own title for those Vita owners who are RTS and rhythm game fans as you won’t find another game like it.