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[PS3 Review] Of Orcs and Men |

In a brutal world at war, where the Empire of Men seeks to expand its domination and impose its beliefs, Goblins are systematically persecuted and slaughtered, while Orcs, if not killed in battle, are destined to be enslaved.

Play as Arkaïl, an elite Orc soldier of the legendary legion of Bloodjaws, a league of warriors devoted to victory in the war against Humankind.
As a veteran group of warriors who have seen the most brutal of battles, the Bloodjaws are appointed to complete a mission that could change the course of the war: kill the one man responsible for all of the bloodshed, the one who has, for years, exhorted the human masses to loath and fight the green-skinned people… the Emperor himself.

Nicknamed the “Butcher of Bay Harbor”, Arkaïl is one of the toughest Orcs you’ll find. His berserk outburst at the battle of Bay Arbor allowed the Orcs to win, but not without several human and orc casualties at the hands of Arkaïl who could not control himself. This later led him to become part of the Bloodjaws (the tattoo he has on his chest is the mark of this group), a group that has now been given a particular task by their leader, and one you will need to carry out to find the redemption and hope that he needs.

He is paired with Styx, a goblin like no other, especially since he’s an assassin AND he can talk and is very smart, unlike the rest of this “brothers” who are similar to rabid dogs that want to eat anything on their path. Styx can attack from far away thanks to his daggers, and he can even enter the shadows in order to walk past enemies without being noticed, or to get close enough to them to kill them with a single strike. Since he’s tiny, he can also go into smaller places that usually lead him behind enemy lines or to a much needed treasure chest or item bag that will surely contain something to improve Arkaïl’s or Styx’s stats.

So, how do you play this game? Well, as you’ve just read, you have 2 characters to control and can quickly switch between them with the press of a button. Arkaïl and Styx have several skills right from the start, and you can unlock new ones as well as improve them with the skill points you get for leveling up (1 point for every level gained). You also get a point to allocate to your stats, and you must carefully plan if you’ll use Arkaïl as an all out killing machine or a tank, as well as having Styx be a “let me take it from way back here” companion or a “down and dirty in a melee fight” ally. You can issue each character up to 4 commands at a time, and when one activates you can issue a new one (or wait for 2 to carry out, or 3, or all 4 to free slots for new commands) depending on what you need (attack, defend, heal, defeat archers that are up high and that only Styx can kill, revive your fallen partner, etc). That is basically what you need to do. Sounds simple, but just issuing commands without actually having a strategy in place will be your doom.

Arkail can go berserk from attacking too much or receiving too many hits, and while he is mad you can’t control him, he won’t defend, and will go on a killing spree doing twice the damage. Sounds like fun, but not being able to tell him to change from offense stance (more damage dealt, less defense) to defense stance (less damage dealt, double the defense) means he can be overpowered by a group of enemies, leaving poor, fragile Styx to clean up the mess. Therefore, you must know when to attack, when to defend, when to use Styx to pick out targets from a distance, and when to have him go in for the final blows that will score him the kill. After leveling up a bit, you can unlock two skills for Arkaïl’s defense stance that are a MUST if you plan to make it to the end of the game. The first skill is a Shout that draws the attention of all enemies and makes them attack Arkaïl, thus freeing Styx to attack from the back or slaughter enemies while they’re busy with Arkaïl. The other is a Defense boost. What it does is it lowers the Orc’s attack by 75% while dramatically boosting his defense and HP regeneration. Now, I’m sure you can put 2 and 2 together and see how this combo can allow you to defeat even the worst of your enemies, and you DEFINITELY should improve them both as soon as possible.

Speaking of improving skills, you can pick one of two improvements for said skill when you finally get a chance to upgrade them. For example, the Shout skill? You can either decide to increase the range of the shout, or add a chance to destabilize enemies (opening them up for attacks they can’t parry or dodge). Me? I increased the range because I wanted to draw as many enemies to Arkaïl as possible. I also unlocked a skill that allows Styx to throw him a potion that improves the Orc’s HP regeneration for a few seconds which can be the difference between living another day and being utterly defeated.

Overall the game is NOT a full on 3rd person action game and is closer to a strategy game due to the way skills and attacks are activated, and how you must constantly move back and forth between Arkaïl and Styx to make sure they’re both ok. It does take a bit to get used to it, but after one hour you will “get it” and you’ll start to have a lot of fun. I suggest you play the game on Easy or Normal because if you think you can handle Hard or Extreme… well, you’d be wrong. The game is challenging enough on Normal, and making the jump to a higher difficulty level will make you want to throw your controller in 10 seconds. If you’re a trophy hunter, you have to play the game twice to unlock one trophy (for opening 20 chests in the game, which is done over multiple runs), so you might as well start low and then aim for the stars once you know how the game works.

Of Orcs and Men is a very interesting and fun RPG/Strategy game that definitely brings something new to the table. Button-mashers should stay away from it as they WILL be punished for not understanding how to make the game tick. If you’re looking for a game with fresh gameplay, a good story and several hours of content, then you should definitely download the game from PSN. Our readers in Europe can actually chose between the digital download or a boxed retail copy, in case they want to have the box sitting on their shelf along with the rest of their collection.


Fresh gameplay
Great mix of strategy/RPG elements
Can customize your characters' skills and stats for a different experience
Load times when changing areas in the same level


This review is based on a PS3 version Of Orcs and Men provided by Focus Home Interactive.

  • This game looks pretty good,but I hate buying games digital..Maybe I’m in the minority here,but I love owning physical copies of games,especially if I’m paying 30+ for em..But after beating persona and dishonored I might check this out. Is there any trophies for playing on hard or extreme?..if not easy it will be! 😛

  • Well, since it is Digital Only for the US, there isn’t much choice. Think of it as a PSN game and you’ll be fine hahaha.

    The game has a full trophy list with a Plat, and yes, there ARE trophies for finishing the game on Easy, Normal, Hard and Extreme, but difficulty stacks so beating it on Extreme unlocks the other 3.

  • Great review !

  • great review, curious, @eden did you plat this game?

  • @hobbes: Not yet. Of Orcs and Men on Extreme difficulty is a whole new game hahaha.

  • @eden, by the way, amz BF on vita bundle was too good to pass up, 179 AC3 bundle with royal rumble, and 4gb card.

  • Yeah, saw that but my budget went to the Wii U this year.

    Remember that 4 GB won’t last you long, and your PSN account is tied to the card and you’ll have to redownload your games, so think about spending some extra $$$ on a 32 GB card.

  • I just won a Promo Copy of this on disc. It looks like hotness XD

  • wolfkin

    sounds like fun. not just saying this but I’ll have to look into this check out some video because the strat elements are definitely my jargon.

  • Oly

    I was impressed when I first started playing this, but quickly got dissapointed when it came to the fighting.. issuing commands and watching them battle it out bored me fast

  • wolfkin

    see that actually sounds appealing to me. There is this little turn based airplane fighting game I found because it was mentioned on Penny Arcade once SteamBirds. I like the idea of playing as a battlefield commander. It’s a lot different in sports games (Football Manager, General Manger) but in any other genre I’m down for some tactical nit picking gameplay.

  • @EdEN yeah but it sucks paying retail money for a psn game.. I don’t mind paying 15 or so but this is a little steep..I’m hoping for a sale soon 😛

  • @Hestar: I don’t have a problem with buying digital games at over $20, especially now that Wii U Deluxe gives us back 10% of our purchases AND Club Nintendo coins. Might get AC III that way and get $6 back and 80 coins.

  • great review though doesn really sound like my type of game at the moment

  • @EdEN yeah I’m not a fan of digital stuff I like owning physical copies of my games which is why I wait for prices to drop on stuff before buying them digital if there’s no physical copy

  • Well, I’m surprised to hear this is a Strategy based RPG, when I first saw it I thought it would turn out to be yet another hack ‘n slash, I’m certainly glad I was wrong.

    Personally I love this style of combat, as it reminds me of the good old days playing Ice Wind Dale and Baldur’s Gate, however that’s also a con, since no game can be as good.

    Overall, I really hope this kind of more refined gameplay comes back, specially with Project Eternity on the way, to which I pledged a couple hundred bucks.

  • @pedrolabate: Interesting. So you backed Project Eternity, huh? Guess digital does have its benefits when you live in Brazil, right?

  • @Eden Hell No! I made a point to order the actual CE and international shipping along with a bunch of other goodies!

  • @pedrolabate: Wait… doesn’t that mean that the nice Brazilian Customs Officers will do all they can to delay said package for 2-3 months?

  • @eden oh well, guess it will have to do. But that’s not such a big problem, because I got like 3 digital download codes too lol