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Review: Orgarhythm for PS Vita

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Title: Orgarhythm
Price: $29.99
System(s): PS Vita
Release Date: October 23, 2012
Publisher (Developer): XSEED (Neilo and Acquire)
ESRB Rating: “Everyone 10+” for Fantasy Violence and Suggestive Themes
Pros: You have a main campaign and an additional score attack mode. The soundtrack is incredible, with an assortment of different kinds of music. Touch screen controls work very well. Minimalist graphics work to your advantage as they don’t distract you from what’s important. Three kinds of troops with three different attack options. Perfect chains make your troops stronger. Your “god” can use special attacks.
Cons: Unless you force a friend to buy it, you will never find someone to play multiplayer with – ever. You can beat it in about six hours. Easy to fall into a “lull” or “pattern” of taps, which then takes time to break when another level has a different rhythm. Stages are so similar they can blur together.
Overall Score: One thumb up and one thumb sideways, 80/100, B-, * * * out of 5

I didn’t “get” Orgarhythm until I finished the tutorials.

No, that’s not exactly accurate. I understood the concept, what was going on and what I needed to do to ensure my deity and his troops would survive each situation. It’s more that I didn’t find myself drawn to Orgarhythm until I’d completed the mandatory instructional levels. I was more chomping at the bit, trying to speed through so I could get to a real challenge.

Orgarhythm obliged, drew me in and now I understand the simple beauty and enjoyment that can stem from sending out perfectly timed and directed assaults against opponents.

Two divine brothers quarrel over one world.

Two gods, who happen to be brothers, rule the world. One rules over creation, the other destruction. The god of destruction tunneled underground with his followers, while the god of creation and his followers made their home on the planet’s surface. For a time, the two were able to coexist peacefully and share the planet.

As you can imagine, such a situation couldn’t last. While the god of creation and his followers could survive by using the sun to tend the surface, the god of destruction and his followers were destroying the planet’s energy from the inside with no means to create a sustainable energy source. As a result, the god of destruction and his troops broke through to the surface with the goal of taking that which the god of creation and his followers had created.

The god of creation won’t just allow this to happen. He has summoned his followers to battle. They will fight hand-to-hand, with arrows and with catapults against the destructive forces to make the surface safe again – in time with some ridiculously catchy and awesome music.

Keep your headphones on – the beat is life.

Orgarhythm keeps things simple, which is a blessing considering how much players have to do. The basic gameplay mechanic is to tap the screen once to bring up the god’s main menu. You tap again to direct either the god or his yellow, blue or red troops to take action. One more tap specifies exactly what that god or troop needs to do. Finally, the directions close by dragging a finger to either direct the god’s skill or the troops’ line of attack. Lather, rinse and repeat. As long as you can manage to do this in time with a song while also keeping track of enemy positions and colors, you can play Orgarhythm. Trust me when I say this simpicity will serve you well, as I spent much of my time playing trying to keep track of the song’s beat and the enemies’ positions and had nothing left over to pay attention to complicated controls or game mechanics. Neilo and Acquire have created a system that works well and is designed to serve the player as he or she goes through the main campaign and score attack mode. Players will start directing troops unconsciously and accurately, which is good as chaining together perfect directions makes your troops stronger by increasing their level and numbers.

Which brings us to a downside of Orgarhythm. Play it for a long enough period and the stages will blur together. Each level will typically take between five and fifteen minutes to complete. While the game’s soundtrack is fantastic and diverse, many of the songs share the same beat patterns. I’m going to get a little technical with you here, so bear with me. Most of the songs have a common time signature, which is 4/4. Other common signatures in Orgarhythm are cut time (2/2) or triple time (3/4). So while the songs will be different, your tapping pattern and beat will be the same. As well as the tap-tap-tap-drag pattern works for playing, doing it repeatedly to the same beat against the same enemies in similar areas is incredibly repetitive. After a while, each level blurs together and that lack of distinction and variety is a serious downside.

Still, in short bursts Orgarhythm is a finely crafted and very enjoyable music game. When I played between one and three levels at a time, I found I could ward off tedium while also keeping occupied for a good half hour and enjoying the fantastic compilation of instrumentals and electronica collected for this adventure. The music is absolutely fantastic and it’s well worth keeping your headphones on hand. You don’t need them just to ensure your god and his army’s survival, but to savor the sounds you’ll be hearing.

It’s also best if players forget the multiplayer option is even there. It’s adhoc only, which means people can only play against or with each other if two people have two Vitas and are in the same room. With Orgarhythm being such a niche game, the odds of this happening are very slim. Well, unless Person A forces Person B to buy Orgarhythm, but even that’s a situation that is fairly unlikely. (Do you really want to coerce a friend into buying a $29.99 game just so you can have someone to play with? Don’t be selfish.)

A triumph for people who enjoy unorthodox music games, a puzzle to those who don’t.

Orgarhythm has a very specific audience. It’s tailored to people who get music games. No, rather it’s made for people who love music video games that challenge them to do more than easily strum along to the songs on the easiest difficulty level available. If you can’t multitask, you can’t win in Orgarhythm. You have to keep track of the beat and follow it while also thinking ahead to keep your troops attacking the right opponents with the perfect attacks. It’s a primal and thought-provoking experience, as after a while the songs themselves blur together – you’re focusing on the rhythm and using that to win a feud that’s left a planet and its people in the balance.

The best way I can describe Orgarhythm is a more artsy and mature version of Patapon. It is a similar experience, but Orgarhythm focuses more on the music and the thought one needs to direct strategic operations.

Site [Orgarhythm]

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