Harness the inner rhythmic power of a god.
Games which revolve around tap,tap, tapping to a beat may by plentiful, but combining these rhythm games with another genre not so much. In fact, XSEED’s Orgarhythm, which has recently been released on PSN for the Vita, combines keeping a beat with real time strategy, a combination that I can only compare with the wonderful Patapon games on the Vita’s predecessor, the PSP. But let’s not get ahead of ourselves, Orgarhythm is quite different to Patapon, and if your only reason for looking at this game is to Pon-Pon-Pata-Pon once again, there will be some disappointment.
The game contains quite and in-depth tutorial that explains what the hell is going on, and then there is the main campaign which lasts for some 12 levels. So far as a story is concerned, there is not really a lot going on – basically, it seems to be a classic story of good and evil, in this case revolving around god-like brothers. Still, almost missing the story may be, rhythm games are not really known for weaving a yarn, but rather live and die on their gameplay.
The gameplay is actually fairly simple, although it may not come across like that in writing. The player taps the screen to select their god, who happily keeps wandering forward through the levels, and then taps to select an element from fire, water or earth, each of which are represented by different coloured little troops that are with your god. Once the element is selected, the player then taps again to select the type of warrior, such as archers or melee, and then finally draws a line on the screen to the enemy, the length of which dictates the number of troops that are sent into battle. All of this is done in time with the background music.
So the god moves around the level whilst the player taps out their orders to defeat various enemies and bosses. If the player manages to tap in perfect time with the music, then their army will level up and become stronger. Fail to keep in time, and they will gradually lose any improvements you make and become weaker. Not keeping the rhythm doesn’t stop you from playing, it just makes it a lot more difficult.
Whilst tapping and swiping in time to music may cause more than a few gamers some stress, the players will also have to think about what kind of enemies they are facing. Enemies have different elemental types just like the players’ troops, and a simple “rock, paper, scissors” system will dictate any strengths or weaknesses, with earth beating water, water beating fire and fire beating earth. All of this should not be too complicated for a seasoned gamer to get to grips with, but there are a few distractions along the way.
Visually, Orgarhythm is rather unimpressive. The spites are too small and the colours not as bright as they could be. This leads to some problems in the gameplay as it can be difficult to actually see what is going on and react to it. Otherwise, the game looks serviceable, if not up to what we would expect on the Vita.
Sound is important in a rhythm game, and the selection of tunes used in the game are quite nice. But again there is a problem in that the random sound effects can actually throw the player off their rhythm, causing them to lose strength and effectively become weaker.
As the game progresses and things become more frantic, the player will be put under more and more pressure to perform with both strategic precision and perfect timing. Even without the visual and audio issues, this will be difficult simply down to the tapping and swiping mechanic. The music may get quicker forcing the player to tap and swipe faster to improve their troops, or the quick swipe to send the troops running may not send as many as the player needed. It is all a little bit too imprecise and too many elements have to be combined to play the game well.
Orgarhythm also includes both co-op and versus play, but this is limited to ad-hoc only, with no online options.
The core mechanic is sound, but the controls are too finicky, the visuals too simple and the sound too distracting in Orgarythm for it to be a truly great game. Given the lack of quality games on the Vita, it is worth taking a look, but be prepared to bring with you the patience of a rhythmic god.