Orcs & Elves Review

If Orcs & Elves was released about 15 years or so ago on PCs, then it would have been a pretty successful RPG. Moving through a pseudo-3D dungeon and viewing things from a first-person perspective were pretty cutting edge concepts back in those days. RPGs have come along way since those days, though, even on handheld systems like the DS. Yet in spite of its decidedly old school approach, Orcs & Elves has a certain charm to it and manages to be a fun little game.

There's not a lot of story to the game - you're basically a young warrior with a magical talking wand out to rescue a kidnapped elf king held in an ancient dwarven fortress overrun by orcs. Character management is pretty simple, too; there are no character classes or customizations in the game. You simply begin the game with your wand and sword and then proceed to try and kill every monster that you can find on your way to the deepest level of the dungeon. Those looking for a customizable and immersive RPG experience should look elsewhere. However, if you're looking for some fun dungeon crawl gameplay well-suited to gaming on the go, then Orcs & Elves definitely delivers on that point.

The gameplay in Orcs & Elves is turn-based, but in practice it feels more like events are unfolding in real-time. As you move around the dungeon you'll feel like you're moving in real-time. It's not until you find yourself facing an enemy that the turn-based play becomes apparent, and even in this case you'll perceive a very slight delay between actions that otherwise have the feel of real-time.

You view the dungeon from the perspective of your character on the DS' top screen. The touch screen is used to manage your inventory, display your automap, and can also be used to move and attack. It's easier to simply use the buttons and d-pad to get around and attack foes, though. The touch screen can also be used to save games and in a very portable-friendly touch you can save the entire state of your game at any time. Since there's not a lot in the way of story or quests, you can easily reload the game later and jump right in even if it's been a while since you last played.