Platform: PlayStation Vita
Orgarhythm comes to players with an easily definable concept – mashing together rhythmic beats with real-time strategy, effectively giving us what it calls a music strategy experience.
This isn’t that lofty an idea. The previous set of PlayStation handhelds prominently featured the Patapon series, a tribal dance-infused side-scrolling action title. At first look, Orgarhythm looks to be the PS Vita step up to that classic, but does it live up to firsthand expectations?
The lore of Orgarhythm says that twin deities ruled over the forces of creation and destruction. One resided in the underworld while the other cultivated the surface. As time passed, they came to meet each other in a less than harmonious way, fighting over the planet they both claim home.
In order to fight each other, they created minions who represent both creative and destructive forces. Taking the role of the creative god, the player must bark out orders by tapping to the rhythm of the music and micromanaging three squads of minions. The three squads are separated by color; red, blue and yellow.
The graphics leave a bit to be desired.
The game usually has an above-view perspective that makes everything on screen look like little ants, save for the bosses at the end of a level. I would have preferred the units to have a more defined outline on the screen. There are times where I’m not sure how many units are fighting because they all kind of meld into each other. Thankfully, there are icons on the bottom of the screen to let you know how many of each color you have following you and in total.
If you’ve got Pikmin on the brain and think the squads have some sort of identifying strength and weakness, think again. As far as I can tell, the colors only serve as a way to differentiate the units and also as a way to match your forces’ against similarly colored enemies. Each platoon has the ability to wield different weaponry depending on the situation as well.
Tapping is the only way to get anything done in Orgarhythm. In fact, the whole game is essentially a series of three taps for an action. This is called tri-tapping. First you tap on your god in order to get the groove going, making sure to stay in time with the aural and visual beat. After that you tap representative icons of which squad you want to order. Finally you tap or drag a line in the ground where you want that squad to go. The process repeats itself for as long as you play a level.
You’ll find that tapping can get addicting quick, especially since you always need to move units around in order to defend yourself. As you deal and incur damage, the top bar above your health fills up into segments, giving you the ability to cast spells that heal and buff your army. Again you’ll have to drag a line over where you want the spell to cast after you do a tri-tap action.
The game plays out on a 3D plane with droves of roaming enemies who adapt to your positioning and movements from the previous encounter. Replay a level multiple times and you’ll see that the same strategy will have varying success. Your avatar in the world, the creative god, is not one to be controlled. He marches around the map looking for the end boss and directing his minions to victory. Protect him well, because the destructive god’s minions like to swarm him if you keep your troops on the offensive.
Tapping well means that not only will your minions do well, they’ll also level up and instantly generate new units for you to throw into the fray. In this way, you can replenish your supply without worrying about usual RTS mechanics like economy. Psh, we don’t need your stinking economy, we have the power of dance!
The more you play this game, the less it feels like a strategy game and the more it feels like an arcade rhythm game with some really funky music. XSEED actually put out a call for indie musicians earlier in the year, looking to give the game’s music DLC an indie edge to it.
Orgarhythm is different and likely isn’t what you’re expecting from the get-go. That’s because it doesn’t work as fluidly as Patapon and its repetitiveness doesn’t give it the same charm as Pikmin. Don’t go expecting Orgarhythm to fulfill a crossbreed fantasy of yours, it’s an entirely different animal, one that is a fine buddy for quick bus rides and casual play.