Orcs Must Die! must be one of the mostly aptly named games ever made. Pretty much everything you need to know about the game’s overarching premise is contained in those three words. To flesh it out a little: on each map, using a wide range of abilities and traps, you must stop a horde of orcs and related beasties from traversing a dungeon and making their way to your sacred portal.
The gameplay is a mixture between classic tower defense and third-person action, and as you play through the campaign you unlock increasingly more powerful traps and weapons. It’s a pretty straightforward premise, but the end result is something which is surprisingly compelling and challenging.
I’m pretty sure the sequel has set some sort of record for its release date proximity to the first game, which was released in October 2011. In many ways then, Orcs Must Die! 2 is more of an expansion, or content update, than what we might consider a fully fledged sequel. Still, considering you can buy both games for significantly less than you would pay for a regular AAA release, it’s difficult to hold this against Robot Entertainment.
Of course, the big question is: does Orcs Must Die! 2 do enough to justify its existence within the still settling wake of its predecessor, which turned out to be one of 2011’s indie sleeper hits? My answer is “yes”. Not only does it provide heaps of new content for Orcs Must Die! fans and newcomers alike, but it also introduces a handful of new, meaningful features.
The first big addition is two-player co-op, which many felt was sorely missing from the first game. If you enjoyed Orcs Must Die! on your own, then you can roughly double your expected enjoyment factor when playing Orcs Must Die! 2 with a friend. I would almost call Orcs Must Die! 2 a cornerstone co-op game, right up there with some of my other favourites: Left 4 Dead, Dead Island and Borderlands.
With that said, this new focus does come with a price. There is no separate co-op campaign, which means that many of the maps are essentially designed with two players in mind. This makes some of the later levels extremely difficult if you’re playing solo.
In terms of gameplay, the sequel remains pretty much unchanged. It’s still intense, humorous, highly enjoyable, and later on extremely challenging to the point of being infuriatingly frustrating while at the same time extremely satisfying.
Another noteworthy improvement made in the sequel is to the currency and unlocking mechanics. There is now one unified system used to unlock new traps and weapons, and it’s simple: the more efficiently you slay orcs on a level, the more skulls you earn. These skulls are then used to unlock new toys or upgrade your current arsenal. Also, the sheer variety of gear on offer now is almost staggering, and what’s more, is that most of the items and upgrades are legitimately exciting.
In short, Orcs Must Die! 2 is a highly addictive, unique, and extremely rewarding addition to what is becoming a pretty important franchise for PC gaming. If you have yet to play the first game, then you should probably keep an eye out for it during one of Steam’s sales. The sequel takes everything that made the first game great and builds on it, and is well worth the $14.99 asking price.
[Orcs Must Die! 2 is available right now on Steam for $14.99. Follow this handy link to either try out the demo and see if it’s to your liking, or dive straight into the full game by handing over a bit o’ cash.]