A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this game.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that Orcs Must Die! is a surprisingly gory and blood-soaked tower defense game in which players fight fantastical creatures swarming through dungeons. Players never attack humans, and the graphics tend toward cartoonish. Still, the orcs and goblins that they slay by the dozen using medieval weapons and traps cry out in pain, shed blood, and are sometimes even torn apart. The action isn’t intended to be taken very seriously, and there are many moments of legitimate mirth, but the humor is clearly intended for a high-school-and-up audience.
What's it about?
Players take on the role of an apprentice defender in ORCS MUST DIE!, a tower defense strategy game with the heart of a hack-and-slash actioner. Each level begins with players setting up automated defenses in sprawling dungeon halls. Gooey tar pits will slow down the attacking hordes, spiky floor and wall traps will hurt them, exploding barrels will blow them up. Sounds like standard tower defense play so far, but players don’t just sit back and watch as enemies try to survive the gauntlets they create. They wade into the fray, picking off stray baddies with weapons including a bow and sword. New defensive gear is bestowed between levels, where you also have the opportunity to level up traps and weapons.
Is it any good?
Orcs Must Die! is deceptively simple yet madly habit-forming. Its accessible design and low learning curve work in tandem to suck you deep into the action, leading you quickly from one battle to the next. Your addiction is fed via an enormous array of weapons and traps that get dished out at regular intervals and beg you to keep on playing just one more level to see what they do and how they work.
The hardest part of the game is simply deciding which weapons and traps to take into battle. The orc-smashing pounder is always fun, but so is the lightning ring. And the steam trap. And the wall blades. It’s not for all tastes. And the humor, though a childish in form, isn’t for children. But teens and adults who get a kick out of tearing through hordes of nasty, evil orcs will be tickled pink. Few downloadable games for Xbox 360 or Windows are as much fun.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about violence in games. How do you determine what is acceptable for your teenagers? Does it matter if the violence is conducted against human or non-human enemies?
Families can also discuss humor in media. Are games a good platform for comedy? Do you often laugh while playing games? How does interactive humor differ from passive humor?
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