Trying to do something different is an admirable quality. But was rhythm action/strategy effort Orgarhythm – a game that’s incredibly difficult to explain in anything less than several paragraphs, let alone pronounce – best left as just an ambitious idea?
Despite its quirkiness and admirable desire to do something new, Orgarhythm is a very hard game to like. Describing it as a mix of Patapon and Pikmin is somewhat accurate, but Orgarhythm lacks the clarity of design of either of those series.
Explaining how it works may help fill you in on where just some of its problems lie. You play as the dancing, gyrating and constantly on-the-move God of Light, whose only means of defending himself on his linear path past the God of Shadow’s minions are by utilising his followers – who come in three colours, blue (water), red (fire), and yellow (earth). Foes come in these same hues too, and each is weak and strong against a specific colour. There are also four different types of troop you can deploy – from standard soldiers, archers, catapaults, and men who simply sacrifice themselves (don’t ask).
As the garbled mess of letters that make up the game’s title might suggest, where Orgarhythm attempts to mix things up is by bolting a rhythm action component to this setup. In time with the music, you tap your God first, then the colour of soldier (or support ability), and then which type of troop you wish to deploy. After this you can then place soldiers by drawing lines on the battlefield – the longer the line, the more troops deployed.
It’s a credit to the simple step-by-step tutorial Orgarhythm provides that these mechanics aren’t overwhelming – they actually make you keen to leap into battle. Sadly, this turns out to be a false dawn, as after just a few minutes of the main campaign it becomes clear this isn’t going to be the experience it could have been. To play Orgarhythm is to work your way through a largely dizzying haze of good intentions, with glimmers of promise buried under annoyances both big and small.
Tap to victory
The major problem is many elements don’t work well enough to truly satisfy, and for such a complex experiment some minor missteps result in some disastrous consequences. Take the touch screen rhythm action system. It works at first, but annoyingly you have to continue making orders to keep your troops at their strongest level – even if you don’t want to.
An even more unforgivable flaw are the troops themselves, which aren’t blessed with much in the way of common sense. They constantly get caught on walls and only attack when placed in very specific places, causing you to take damage through no real fault of your own. The frustration is emphasised as when the God of Light has taken enough damage you’re thrown all the way back to the start of the stage.
Considering you take the same route through a level every time it’s not hard to see how things can get frustrating – especially if you’re struggling to pick up the beat. Using a different track for each of the twelve stages was a good idea in theory, but some irritatingly aren’t as easy to tap along to as others.
You’ll end up muddling your way through a lot of the game as a result: issuing commands every few seconds, praying troops will go where you’ve told them to, hoping you’ve chosen the right colour to combat certain foes. It’s tense, but for nearly all the wrong reasons. You never feel fully in control and when battles can hinge on just one or two small moments, that is a recipe for aggravation.
The most disappointing thing about Orgarhythm is that it isn’t a bad idea done poorly, just a promising one with not enough thought into the whole package. There’s potential here, yet it just ends up feeling very rough around the edges. For those blessed with exceptional rhythm and patience – and are willing to overlook a fair helping of flaws and frustrations – Orgarhythm might appeal, but it needed to be tighter and more streamlined to be a truly satisfying oddity.
Orgarhythm, from XSeed Games and Acquire, is available now for PS Vita.