Well, that’s one game ticked off the endless digital pile of shame.

The very first achievement I earned in Orcs Must Die! on the PC triggered way back in 2015. I hit a difficulty spike towards the end of the game and lost interest in continuing to tackle the same level over and over again.

As time passed, my gaming PC became slower, less reliable and more of a pain to set up than it was worth – so for a while, my extensive Steam library sat gathering digital dust.

Until I got hold of a Steam Deck earlier this year. Suddenly, I had a way of playing a large number – if not all – of games in my Steam library.

Which is how I got back into Orcs Must Die!, swallowed my pride and dialled down the difficulty level…then finally finished the main story mode!

If you haven’t played the Orcs Must Die! games – of which there are three, along with a now defunct, free to play MOBA from a time when it seemed every developer was trying to get one off the ground – allow me to introduce the concept to you.

Your hero must defend a Rift (or multiple Rifts) on each stage from rampaging Orcs, Goblins, Ogres and other, equally slimy creatures.

It’s essentially a tower defense game in third person, with your War Mage character able to summon traps and obstacles to slow down the hordes as well as take more direct action with melee or ranged weapons.

With a steady, rapid flow of unlocks that soon gives you a phenomenal range of death dealing traps and weapons to choose from – though you’re limited on each stage by how many you can take at a time – there’s a vast number of ways in which you can approach any given stage.

The route for the rampaging creatures is shown on each level before you begin, which allows you to plan your series of traps before you unleash the horde.

Yet sometimes, multiple entry points are shown and the game doesn’t do well at letting you know which will be next to trigger.

Therefore, you can sometimes only really do well at a level after failing it once making it a bit of a test of memory or patience rather than skill on some levels.

That said, the frantic trap-placing and almost Dynasty Warriors level of third person carnage remains compelling throughout, aforementioned difficulty spikes aside.

There’s a large variety in map layouts and it’s an incredibly inventive game that doesn’t let up on giving you new toys right up until the final stage.

Though yes, I did have a six or seven year gap while I got a new way to play, I would have completed it sooner if real world circumstances hadn’t interfered – so it feels wrong to punish the game for me not being able to play it.

I’m happy to report that picking Orcs Must Die! up again in 2023 – a whole decade and two years after it was originally released, remarkably – it still remains a superb game and one which, sequels aside, has few peers.

Sure, the annoying War Mage can be a bit of an unlikable idiot, but that’s kind of the point.

Orcs Must Die! has a phenomenal soundtrack, visuals that still work well to this day and a great sense of humour. Its near-static cutscenes are a bit of a disappointment, but Orcs Must Die! has it where it counts: gameplay.

If you’ve never seen it, heard of it or played it, I’d urge you to give Orcs Must Die! a try. Who knows – you may even still be playing it in eight years time…

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