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Orcs & Elves Review

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Breaking out of the dungeon...

★★★★★

In theory, even though it comes from Doom creators id Software, there’s little to recommend Orcs & Elves.

For starters, it’s a DS reinvention of a game designed for a mobile phone, the stripped-down gameplay at first feeling offensively simple when you consider Nintendo’s handheld can handle the ambitious action of a game like Legend Of Zelda: Phantom Hourglass. The linear structure of this old-school dungeon crawler also feels restrictive and antiquated when compared to similar games on both the DS and PSP, and the game’s substandard, Kwik Save-quality graphics will leave many players yearning for the imaginative visuals of… well, pretty much any other DS title on the shelves.

But even with its sizable failings, there’s still something strangely compelling about this brutal fantasy romp. The grid-based, turn-based combat is gripping and pacy, allowing you to get down to the nasty business of dismembering monsters without too much hanging around and offering a delirious change of pace from other leaden fantasy quests. The ability to use potions to beef up your avatar’s attacks between turns also brings a layer of strategy to the simple proceedings, and even though the game lacks the epic plot or variety of challenges seen in other subterranean monster-mashers, Orcs & Elves is still a nostalgic thrill for anyone weaned on pre-Doom, first-person gore quests.