Version Reviewed: 1.0
Device Reviewed On: iPad
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The tower defense genre has waxed and waned in popularity over the last several years, and it's beginning to seem as though there are no new tricks left to teach this old dog. At least, that's the impression I get from Dwarfs vs Orcs (DvO), a generic game that is pretty to look at but not much fun to play.
DvO puts players in the shoes of dwarves who are attempting to not only hold of an encroaching orc horde, but also striving to break down their enemy's defenses and capture their base. The basic gameplay more closely resembles an RTS than a tower defense game, but the sluggish pace and rudimentary resource management don't really qualify it for that mantle either. Perhaps the best way to describe the game is that it's Plants vs. Zombies if the plants should shuffle incredibly slowly across the screen.
The game offers a wealth of selectable units and some richly detailed character models, but in this case variety doesn't really equal depth. None of the units are upgradeable and many of them are so similar to one another as to be inconsequential. Though new soldiers and defensive tools are unlocked after each stage it's nearly impossible to determine which units are best for any given situation without substantial trial and error.
What ultimately breaks DvO for all but the most hardcore players is the difficulty, as it spikes to near insurmountable highs after only a handful of levels. Enemy attacks come with such ferocity as to be overwhelming, and once the horde sweeps over you a single time the game is setup so that it's impossible to recover. The moment the orcs break the lines you may as well restart because failure looms.
DvO is functional and beautiful, but it's also generic and infuriating. With so many other options available in the genre it's hard to recommend this title over similar fare such as Spice Invaders. Stay away unless you are a masochist who feels no fear when taking on downright unfair games.