Review: Orgarhythm (Sony PlayStation Vita)

Orgarhythm
Publisher: XSeed Games
Developer: Acquire
Genre: Rhythm/Strategy
Release Date: 10/23/2012

Orgarhythm is a hard game to judge. Not because it’s a terrible game; it’s actually decent, if a bit under-whelming. I’m finding it hard to judge because I have no rhythm when it comes to tapping on the Vita’s screen, so my skills with this game amount to just about absolutely zilch. I’m very terrible at it despite my best efforts and practice, however, it has led me to believe that if you suck at rhythm games, this is not the one for you. If you like rhythm games and castle defense or strategy games, although this feels more like castle offense than defense but the same ideas apply, you just have to be good at timing with the music beats to get your units out, which I am very much not. It’s really frustrating to me, because I can play and did well with DJ Max Portable 3 for the PSP and I can usually hold my own playing Guitar Hero and Dance Dance Revolution, but Orgarhythm has broken me. Let’s take a look.

The game is designed with a co-op mode and a single player mode. Co-op and Versus mode would be better if you could play online, but the game offers local ad-hoc only. Good luck finding other people to play this with you. That really leaves you with single player. The game revolves around you playing as the God of Light and leading your troops across similar open areas to fight against the God of Darkness. I ended up getting this much out of reading the manual, so don’t expect a story. Your troops consist of three colors, yellow, blue and red, and can be set up of several different types depending on what you need, such as archers, soldiers, catapults and suicide bombers. The game takes a rock, paper, scissors approach and has this on screen at all times so you don’t have to keep track of what trumps what as you send your troops against the appropriately colored enemies. The areas all culminate in a boss fight at the end and are all along a linear path.

To deploy your troops to an area you have to tap on the screen to the beat three times, once to get your God’s attention, the second time to pick your color, and then the third to pick your type. From there you either tap once to send just one trooper out or draw a line on the screen to send multiple units into the fray. Otherwise, the horde of your multi-colored army just follows you along the set path. Everything in game is done on the touchscreen, save for one command done on the back touchpad. From that perspective the game feels like something you could find on the iOS or the Android market for a phone or tablet. The controls do respond well and the game does what you tell it to as long as you hit on the beats.

Your God of Light moves across the field and has hit points, and your troops level up based on how many combos you can chain together and maintain. If you miss one tap you’re screwed, and you have to build that all up again. The game is pretty unforgiving in this aspect, although as long as you’re tapping you can keep throwing troops out in the hopes of being able to overwhelm with numbers, but it’s not as effective. I think the biggest issue if you’re not very good at landing beats is that you can get stuck and not be able to try other levels because you wipe out before or during the boss fight. So no advancing abilities, opening up troop types, or any of that, so it can get repetitive even if you’re leveling up your god and opening new abilities to equip that way.

Visually the game would be okay, if this was on the PSP or DS. The camera sits back far enough that you’ll never get a very detailed look at much of anything. The colors stand out on the screen and are pretty vibrant, which helps, but one map looks like any other. The boss fights are pretty distinct, but otherwise the game is completely under-whelming visually, though since you’ll have your finger jabbing at the screen 85% of the time they probably figured most people wouldn’t notice. Audio is where the game should excel, but it never really does. The music is decent but forgettable, the vocals from the on-screen characters are unintelligible but not annoying, though also forgotten quickly. Overall it’s okay and does the job on both fronts, but both of these areas felt flat.

You can play through levels you’ve beaten before to try and up your rating and go for more trophies, which is nice. Having the co-op and versus options would be a nice benefit if they weren’t ad-hoc only. At this point, if you’re going to include multiplayer on a handheld in a niche game like this, you need to have some kind of way to play with other people who have the game online, not just in the same room. Balance wise, in game, it does a decent enough job ramping things up as you go. Play time wise, though, I think the five to ten hours, but closer to five, needed to complete the game kind of stinks. I got more play time out of Dokuro for ten bucks less, and I’m getting less than a third of the game time especially since no one else I know in my area is going to pick this up, so co-op is out.

I will give Orgarhythm this much, no one I know of has attempted to combine a rhythm game with a strategy or tower defense game before. Although I have to admit, if there was a slightly different mechanic for summoning troops, the rhythm part could be excised completely and we’d have a decent strategy game. It’s an interesting mix-up, and if the rhythm portion was a little more forgiving I think it’d be easier to get into it. The approach to troops and what they’re good against has been done before, but swiping across the screen for deployment is a neat way to handle this. I think the price and lack of any way to play online are really going to keep a lot of people away from this one. It’s a neat idea, but it’s a niche one and won’t have a lot of people opening up their wallets. You can pick up a handful of mini’s and PSP titles for the price of this one, or a few Vita games, and have more fun.

I really couldn’t get into Orgarhythm much at all. I like the ideas, but the fact that I can’t get any better at it because my timing is way off just makes me want to turn the Vita off or load up another game. While I didn’t experience any bugs or anything along those lines, I did think the AI and response of your troops is a bit lacking. While they start moving when you tell them to, it’s hard to time it out to get them where they need to be, and by that point, you often need them elsewhere for something else… but you can’t very well ignore the nice men with the catapults and arrows firing at you from across the map either. When you have your timing down, the game flows great, but as I’ve mentioned here a number of times, if your timing sucks, good luck grinding the levels out on a hope and a prayer, because your God of Light ain’t listening.

The Scores
Story/Modes: Enjoyable
Graphics: Mediocre
Sound: Enjoyable
Control and Gameplay: Good
Replayability: Decent
Balance: Poor
Originality: Good
Addictiveness: Awful
Appeal Factor: Bad
Miscellaneous: Pretty Poor
FINAL SCORE: MEDIOCRE GAME

Short Attention Span Summary
Orgarhythm is hard to recommend to just about anyone, as this feels entirely too niche, a lack of players locally would have you looking online but there isn’t an option for that, and the single player won’t hold your attention for long. If your rhythm skills suck you’ll have a hard time keeping up with getting your troops deployed where you need them and they’ll be too weak to do much of anything. There are better titles on the Vita you could be dropping your cash on, and while I applaud the mixing of game genres, this one just doesn’t work for me and won’t for most players.

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