XSEED JKS has been adamant in its Vita support, bringing titles such as Sumioni: Demon Arts and the upcoming Ragnarok Odyssey to North American gamers. However, one game that’s been pushed under the radar is Orgarhythm, an intriguing music-strategy game that XSEED has deemed worthy of localization.
Upon starting Orgarhythm, players will notice that developer Acquire has forgone all forms of button input, save for the Start button. Instead, the entire game and its menus are controlled using the Vita’s front touchscreen. Normally, this would be cause for alarm (no one likes forced touch controls) but thankfully Acquire has built that can both be dependent on the Vita’s alternate input methods and intuitive – all without sacrificing player comfort.
Taking control of the God of Light, it is up to the player to command a group of followers and dispel enemies. Rather than control them directly, it is up to the player to dictate where and what his worshippers attack, all while he moves around the battlefield. Selecting units is done by tapping the touchscreen in time with the game’s music.
In total, there are four types of units at the player’s disposal: melee fighters, archers, catapults and sacrifice soldiers. Each comes with their own advantages and disadvantages. For example, archers are good at attacking at a distance, while catapults are great at dealing heavy damage. Sacrifice units are the most interesting however, as they will explode on contact with other enemies. This can be seen as more of a desperation move, as sacrifice units will not respawn unless the player is continually tapping in rhythm.
To be successful at Orgarhythm, the player must select and deploy units in time with the music, which in turn grants the player a higher score and more troops. Tapping in a quick, successive order is known as tri-tapping, and is the quickest way to boost the player’s combo and level. As the player levels up, more units will be deployed on the battlefield, for a total of sixteen units per element type.
Deploying units is quick and efficient; players must first tap on the God of Light. From here, a menu will pop up with the option of three element types or support actions. The player then taps the element type they want, followed by the type of unit they feel would be most effective. Deploying units is as simple as dragging the player’s finger across the touch screen. The longer the drag, the more units that will be deployed.
The elements themselves play an important role in Orgarhythm, and players will want to make sure to take full advantage of them. Controlling Earth, Wind and Fire, the player is able to use the elements to quell foes who also have their own elemental alignments. Fire troops damage earth enemies, earth damages water, and water damages fire. Any unit can be used to attack any enemy, however using the right elements could mean the difference between victory or death.
And that’s where Orgarhythm has its lasting appeal – it’s a hard game. The whole experience clocks in between 5-6 hours depending on skill level, but a lot of that time will be spent replaying levels. Thankfully, Orgarhythm does difficulty right: levels are challenging but beatable, and the each death comes from a player’s mistake in strategy, not from cheap AI tactics. Part of the fun is going back and replaying levels on harder difficulties – which not only challenges the player but also extends the game time.
As a music game, the soundtrack is an integral part of the experience, and Orgarhythm boasts a beautiful and varied soundtrack. Music ranges from ethereal vocals to hard rock tracks and best of all, the better the player does the better the music gets. Each time the player levels up (by successfully tapping in rhythm), the musical track adds new instruments to create fuller songs and more robust tracks.
The game also comes packed with two player multiplayer, however, there is one significant drawback: it’s ad-hoc only. Yes, unlike WipEout 2048 or Resistance: Burning Skies, Orgarhythm cannot be played online. Instead, two players must meet in person if they want to play a multiplayer match. This is quite frustrating, especially in 2012 when online gaming has become the norm – not to mention that six of the game’s trophies are multiplayer specific. Due to this limitation, we were unable to test out the game’s “online” capabilities.
Though the online portion of the game may be limited, Orgarhythm still presents one of the best experiences on the Vita. Developer Acquire was able to make a game that utilizes the Vita’s touchscreen without being gimmicky. Players may need some time to get used to the control scheme but, once mastered, the game is an absolute delight – one that every Vita owner should experience.
Orgarhythm is available now for the PlayStation Vita.
Follow me on Twitter @AnthonyMole.