Posted by Mike Mason
A little music can be a powerful thing. A blast of a favourite track can give us a burst of energy to complete a gruelling gym session; it can give us the strength needed to battle back against the monotony of another dreary work day. An impassioned chant, or the beat of a drum, can lend us the resolve to overcome a foe, whether it's on the football pitch or a rather more serious battlefield.
Orgarhythm takes this idea of music as power quite literally. Every well-timed tap is a call to arms in Acquire's real-time strategy game, which sees you don the fancy headdress of a deity to overcome a plague of monsters. As you dance-march across the land you're trailed by minions that will follow you until the final drop, attacking any foes that you conduct them towards. Each stage is capped with a face-off against a large boss.
You automatically move forward, so all you have to concentrate on is guiding your loyal slaves to your rhythm. By tapping the touch screen in time with the beat and drawing out directional lines, you can send forth standard close combat warriors, archers, and more. Allies and enemies come in fire, water and ground variants, each strong and weak against each other in the ever-popular rock-paper-scissors fashion of battle balancing.
As well as matching type, however, you've got to keep those fingers drumming in time; keep the pattern up and your attacks will be more powerful, while scoring badly will make combat tougher. You hold a few god-like skills of your own, too: do well in combat and you can use healing techniques, temporarily increase attack capabilities or just zap enemies directly. There's a persistent overall skill level also, and building this unlocks special attributes to apply to your dance commander; better defence or boosted powers, for instance.
Unfortunately, Orgarhythm's final composition isn't quite in tune with its concept. When everything comes together – the music and combat melding together in a satisfying synthesis that gives you a jolt of pure power – it feels great, but these moments aren't consistent and there are a few flaws that knock it off-beat.
The soundtrack is rather good – headphones are an absolute must – especially when it comes to boss battles, and it's in these sections that we found ourselves getting completely lost in the music, almost on auto-pilot dealing out damage. However, whenever your combo creeps up after successful hits, the soundtrack can get busy in parts, making it tougher to stick to the beat. You're also unable to take much of a break from tapping – pause for too long and your combo meter is returned to the first level.
The automated movement holds issues too. You have no control over your character's speed – a sluggish slow dance where you'd expect a quickstep – and so there are times when you're left with nothing to do for longer than desired, forcing you to keep giving out pointless commands to keep the combo going. Then there are problems with the troops themselves; they bump into walls, stop attacking enemies or change targets without order and can be generally unruly when you really need them. Unnecessary deaths are too common.
There's a fair amount of content, with a few difficulty levels to pile through, local versus and co-operative multiplayer for campaign levels, plus online leaderboards to compete on. There's also an impressive amount of stat tracking going on behind the scenes for each level; under the 'Database' option, you can check how many times earth soldiers have been formed up, total casualties or how many yards you've dragged on the touch screen, for a few examples.
While Orgarhythm's overall idea is great, all too often the positives are hidden in the mix by flaws that make it much more of a hassle than it should be. There are moments of excellence that occasionally blare out front and centre and hint at what could have been, but that quality is sadly not as consistent throughout as its stomping drum beats.