Game Reviews

Orion's Forge

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First published: | Updated:

| Orion's Forge
Orion's Forge
| Orion's Forge

One of the biggest criticisms of video games is levelled at their storytelling. We're practically immune to B-movie dialogue these days and, thanks to Gameloft, actors whose lips rarely even move when they spout it.

Orion's Forge takes a different approach than the Hollywood-aping narratives of most titles. Instead, this galactic-themed puzzler opts to tell a series of Aesop-esque fables, with hippy-haired Orion revealing a new part of the tale every time you complete a level.

A novel approach. It's a little disappointing, then, that neither the stories or the puzzles are substantial enough to create a truly satisfying game.

Tower Power

To read a whole tale, Orion demands that you harness enough energy to create a new star.

As someone who struggled to build a birdhouse in school, this seemed like a tall order. Yet the actual puzzling is only occasionally challenging at best. At worst, especially towards the end of the game, it's a matter of tedious trial-and-error that requires nothing but patience.

In each level, puffs of energy are released from a set point on the screen and you need to tap and drag towers to guide them to a steadily growing tower called the Star Launcher. Each burst of energy builds the Launcher, until it finally pulsates and erupts - firing a bursting star into the sky.

Reach for the stars

If this sounds like a dubious image when written down, trust us that the unsubtle symbolism would make Sigmund Freud blush when you're actually watching it happen on screen.

Anyway. Moving swiftly on. Towers either push or pull the energy, so you need to carefully manipulate them to create a safe route that avoids obstacles and pesky black holes that drain away the precious power.

The touch screen dragging controls work just fine, but the effect of the towers is distinctly hard to predict. Thinking logically about where to place them, for example, often just doesn't work - no matter how long you've been playing.

Instead, you come up with a rough plan and, begrudgingly, start fiddling around with the placement until you stumble on the solution.

Galaxy quest

Later additions, such as portals to funnel energy through and converter beams that switch the polarity of towers, add a slight layer of complexity to the puzzling, but also an unwelcome dash of obfuscation.

Some levels you'll solve in seconds and some just seem to exist to stretch the slender run-time, by appearing so randomly constructed.

With the puzzles falling flat, it's disappointing that Orion's sprawling stories rarely engage either. They feel like half-baked children's tales, but with titles like "Cannibal Captain", they're not pitched at the right audience.

Like the rest of the game, the tales told are a novelty that look intriguing enough in screenshots yet feel decidedly less starry when you're actually interacting with them.

Orion's Forge

Sci-fi spins on Aesop's Fables give Orion's Forge an eye-catching premise, but the unmemorable stories and guesswork puzzling mean the game never achieves its intergalactic potential
Paul Devlin
Paul Devlin
A newspaper reporter turned games journo, Paul's first ever console was an original white Game Boy (still in working order, albeit with a yellowing tinge and 30 second battery life). Now he writes about Android with a style positively dripping in Honeycomb, stuffed with Gingerbread and coated with Froyo