Orcs Must die! 3 doesn't make much effort to contextualize the Orcs, or to ask why they do what that they do. It is a game for deep thinkers. A strategic siege simulator that rewards thoughtful arrangement, innovative solutions and the willingness to look at a problem from new angles. Even though you are trying to hit an imp in the eye with your mouse, it's a game that makes one feel smart.
You will need to allocate a budget for each level. The goal is to cause as much damage as possible, and buy, rotate, and place the traps you choose in a small or large dungeon.
When you're ready the doors smash inward and enemies race down the hall and stairs, pretty much oblivious to the hazards you've placed for them. They flip orcs through the air and sting them with beehives. After all the orcs have fled through the portal that you are supposed to protect, you can go back and build your plans until the last wave.
Traditional tower defense games would have you waiting for the action phase to arrive where you hope everything works out for the best. In Orcs Must Die! 3 this is your cue to pull up your sleeves and get busy.
It's great fun to fire into the horde and seek out headshots from your different-sized opponents like playing vertical whacka-mole. Secondary fire options that are best include freeze-bombs as well as a sweeping knockback, which triggers hilarious ragdolling. Combat can be described as "mash and peas" because it offers only button mashing melee, and peashooter missiles. You'll find less skill and complexity than in an action game, with no Souls-like parry or active load to master.
This is for the best and most likely by design. Although it is possible to create a playstyle based on empowered pugilistics and combat, combat is there to allow you to dynamically fill in the gaps left behind by your traps. Experienced Series veterans will be able to tell you that it's a nervous joy to personally shoot a kobold runner who somehow managed to slip between your pneumatic machines.
Fighting that is more complex would cause it to pull too much attention, which could upset the balance of this classic hybrid genre. Robot Entertainment has been creating Orcs Must Die! for a while. It doesn't mess with the basics. This is not surprising considering 2017's Orcs Must Die! Unchained was the last studio attempt at this. The result didn't produce the hit they were hoping for.
Orcs Must Die! 3 is a cautious sequel and even the War Scenarios feel familiar. The game was soft-launched last year on Stadia. After surviving that, the studio has rebuilt from the foundations by adding a second story campaign to the game and a new mode called Scramble.
Scramble is an ironman version of the formula. You must beat five levels of increasing difficulty with a single set of rift points. This pool determines how many monsters can be allowed through the portal without crashing. You'll be given a new debuff at each stage. This could be a swarm of orc archers that attack you, rather than the portal. However, you can choose a buff to counter it like more oomph to your acid bombs. This metagame's effect is to make you think outside of your comfort zone. Scramble can be a great way to revisit some of the most beautiful maps.
Both Scramble and the second campaign are locked until you have made significant progress. This could frustrate hardcore fans who already put hours into the Stadia release.
Although we don't know much about the Orcs, Robot Entertainment has proven that it can still make Orcs Must Die! a fun and rewarding experience. It is a joy to wreak havoc on the Orcs again.
Orcs Must Die! 3 is a worthy sequel although it feels more like an expansion of the 2012 game than a sequel or revival. The masters of a well-loved genre return to form with a conservative, but confident release.