Welcome to Mechanically Beautiful, where we look into the widely debated topic of whether or not video games are considered art. I’m here to say that yes, I do believe video games are a form of art. If you are not a believer of this idea, then maybe these articles will change your mind. But even if they don’t, you will get a chance to hear about and maybe look into some beautiful games in the industry. Today we look at the indie developed, tower defense trap, action game by Robot entertainment called “Orcs Must Die! 2.”
This is a tower defense builder game, but with traps. You run around setting up traps before the waves come and it’s all done in third person. This isn’t a game where you look over and set up traps and then go. Once the waves start, you can get into the action with various upgradable spells and weapons to fight off the orcs. It’s a great spin on the typical concept of tower defense games. It also has very quirky and non serious writing that fits into the visual style of the game. Together they make a funny, satiric atmosphere for the fantasy genre.
The game is done in a very non-real, 3-D cartoon style. It looks like a 3-D animated computer movie, like “Madagascar.” There aren’t many hard edges or deeply realistic textures. It looks like the game was molded from clay. This lets them create characters with doofy faces and over exaggerated movements and actions. The proportions and structure of the characters, especially the orcs, are also whacky looking and exaggerated. None of the shapes or body structures are off and everything does make anatomical sense and fit nicely. It just has that nice cartoon feel. Nothing looks gritty or rough or serious. Everything has the happy-go-lucky quark to it. Which has some irony to it, as the game does have you brutally killing huge waves of enemies by throwing them into acid, burning them, blowing them up, putting crossbow bolts into their heads, etc. The whole time though, the great colors and style of the game make the murder look childish, in a way. The colors in this game are also vibrant and popping, which only adds to the happy feel. The contrast of what you are doing compared to the style of how everything looks is actually a rather funny set up.
The main character from the original game returns, just as cocky and awesome as before. He is what’s called a war mage. He uses magic to create the traps and use spells and then runs in and fights with things like a polearm and crossbow. He is a stereotypical macho guy. He has perfect hair, just the right amount of five o’clock shadow and has the build of a football player. He is not very serious, which is hilarious because the world is actually ending around him and he has to save it for the second time now. His default weapon is a big blunderbuss and he wears an all leather outfit. He has a simple white shirt with a red scarf and padded leather pants and shoulder pads. He’s he last person you want the fate of the world to rest on. The second character, the female sorceress, is a little different from the war mage. She was the enemy of the first game, but loses her control over the orcs and becomes the second protagonist of the sequel. The sorceress can’t stand the war mage and his cocky attitude. She is much more serious and understanding of the fact their lives are in danger. This difference between them of course means the sorceress cannot stand the war mage. This causes some great arguing to ensue of course. The sorceress of course also has a very different visual design. She wears a purple shirt and dress with purple tights under the plate on her legs. She also wears breast, shoulder and arm plates. She is actually wearing more armor than the war mage. She carries a purple wand that shoots out various magic, rather than a standard weapon like the war mage. She has short black hair and wears dark eye and lip make up. She really looks like a evil witch even after switching sides. Possibly the best part to this games visual style though is the enemies you face.
There are more enemies than just the orcs, of course. They’re just the game’s namesake. You fight things like kobolds, elementals, ogres, and trolls. They are some of the funniest and yet threatening looking enemies I have seen. They look like a child’s rendition of silly orcs and goblins. They have big teeth and goofy looking armor made from bones. They have eyes that look like evil googly eyes and hand made weaponry and armor all out of leather and bone. They are nothing like the orcs you would see in “World of Warcraft” and much more like savage native inspired beasts. They have low intelligence and no real technology. The way they run and flop around is one of the most entertaining things. Watching them get flung in the air and into a pit of acid never gets old. They hobble around on legs that look too small for their large upper bodies and swing their weapons wildly. The comedy of the enemies is always good for a laugh and much like the graphic style contrasts the dire evil and viciousness of the orcs.
This whole game is both goofy and serious. It is colorful and brutal. The main character is an idiot and yet the world is in his hands. This game has a great satirical style and great popping graphic style. I highly recommend this game. It’s brought me many hours of fun time. The second one is also multiplayer, so you and your friends can enjoy the great visual work, game play, and zaniness.