There are certain games you like to play extensively, sinking into the narrative they offer, some we play to enjoy with our friends and family, and yet some games we play on the go. Just fire it up, play a few rounds, and then get going. In our every day busy lives, games like these play an important role as a temporary getaway, and even as an excellent way to kill time. Exorder aims to be that game and fill in that hole, but does it succeed? Let’s find out.
Exorder is a turn-based strategy game developed by Solid9 Studio and published by Fat Dog Games. The game was released on 19 March, 2018 for the PC and for Nintendo Switch on 16th October 2018.
Gameplay & Mechanics
The game is from the genre of turn-based strategy and has all of the tenets a strategy game generally has. You have units, quite a lot of them – and you use them to defeat the enemy? Sounds simple, right? Well, there are a lot of mechanics which add to the difficulty, considering the AI itself, which does push hard for winning, especially when you’re in a Skirmish game.
The game is played out in turns. Your turn is finished when there are no actions possible for your units or for your castle. Then your opponent goes through the same cycle, and this repeats till any player manages to kill the other player’s Commander – their main unit. Gold (or resource) income is generated at the beginning of every turn, which is used to recruit units from the castle.
Every map is divided into a grid, with each box being movement squares for units (except for areas blocked by foliage or other obstacles). Units can move to empty grid areas that are not already occupied. Each unit has a certain movement range and gets to attack when they are in the range of the enemy. The movement locations possible for a unit looks peculiar and uneven, where sometimes units move to locations longer than their usual stride, and sometimes they can’t even move at all. Every unit gets to attack as long as an enemy unit is in their range – which reduces strategic depth but does make it more accessible to the casual crowd (which appears to be the game’s main demographic).
Being a strategy game by heart, resource gathering is there. The main resource in the game is gold – it makes the world go around, and makes you hire the forces you need to overwhelm the enemy! Gold is generated by capturing certain marked ‘settlements’. This gold is used to hire soldiers from castles. Different units have different abilities and cost a different amount of gold. Also, there is no limit to the number of units you can hire in one turn, which does add to the frenzy quite a bit. Imagine almost losing your castle to your enemy, then popping open quite some units and wiping their attacking units out as nothing happened. Yep, this does increase the randomness, especially in Skirmish and Story Mode games.
There’s also a bit of “capturing” – capturing houses which provide gold with every turn, capturing castles, and also capturing monster camps (which are unique to the Story Mode only). Capturing consumes all of the ‘action points’ for the unit, so it’s better to ensure the capturing unit has other units holding its back while they go at it. While this seems simple, in the long run, capturing and maintaining control of houses for the gold is actually tough, considering that the AI will give everything they have for taking back control of the houses. However, this does reduce the flexibility in terms of choice of strategy for overwhelming the enemy, considering that you have to retain control of houses and of course, your castle if you want to win.
There are a large number of well-designed units, some possessing special abilities. Use of special abilities is often encouraged in the Story Mode but sadly becomes an unnoticeable feature in Skirmish games, or even in Multiplayer. The game follows the “Law of the Jungle” – only the strongest survive, and the strongest are those with the biggest numbers. You don’t need variety, just train a large assortment of units and take down the enemy. This ‘brute force’ way of doing things slightly goes against the freedom a player has of choosing their own path to victory.
The game features both single player and multiplayer modes. Singleplayer includes the Story, Challenges, which include puzzles which need to be solved in a number of turns, and also Skirmish, allowing players to play against the CPU to test their skills. The Challenges are tricky and are a really good add in a turn-based strategy game. The AI lives up to the hype in the Skirmish mode too, so don’t ever let your guard down even when you think you are winning.
Multiplayer mode pits you against real players online. Brawl it out to till only one team or person survives!
The game’s story mode makes you the ruler of a fantasy kingdom and embarks on some neat politics while you slice and dice people on the march. The story consists of 12 missions and sadly doesn’t really make a mark on anyone who wishes to play the game. Most people would be solving the challenges or going for Multiplayer instead of playing a 12 mission long boring tutorial for all the units and mechanics used in the game. The Story mode AI looks to have been deliberately made easier so that people don’t have problems completing the main story of the game.
The game’s challenges are a neat way to pass time as you rack your brains to solve the puzzles. Most puzzles are not anything really difficult, but then again, you wouldn’t really expect some harsh mind-training exercise when you’re playing to kill time rather than play for the sake of it, would you? The feature is a neat addition to extend playtime, besides the time you can spend on Skirmish or Multiplayer.
If you decide to take the AI head on for a little practice, then Skirmish is the perfect way to test your skills. Select a map from a map pool of up to 4 players, decide allegiances, and play to win. Go for Free-For-All matches, each team for their own, or team up with an AI teammate to take down the two AI opponents.
Online multiplayer uses the same settings as Skirmish, with the only exception being that you will be playing against humans rather than AI opponents. Skirmish isn’t really a weak way to test your skills, as the AI on the easiest skill level try really hard to win the game, not passing up any opportunity it has to win. Any player who loves a challenge would love to play the game.
Graphics, Performance & Sound
The game’s cartoon-like art style is pretty attracting and gorgeous. Exorder tries and actually achieves to be an easy-to-install-and-play game on handhelds like the Switch. While the overall art style looks cartoony, units, foliage, and houses look pretty detailed. The same thing could not be said for unit animations, which look kind of lame as compared to the detail that has been put into modelling for a game whose main audience looks to be casual players with handhelds.
The game was tested on:-
CPU: Ryzen R5 2600
GPU : GTX 1080
RAM: 16 GB DDR4
The game runs pretty well without any FPS drops. No bugs or glitches were seen, either.
The sound effects and music are some of the main attracting points for the game. The soundtrack helps you forget the game’s fallacies as your units kill an enemy with a “squish” sound. The sound of a new turn starting or the sound of training an unit from the castle are especially attracting. All units have an individual identity and make a different sound when they strike, making it more entertaining to play the game. This is the main attraction point of the game, which feels right in place for the audience it seeks to target.
The game looks to be a pretty decent buy if you want to play on the go. For Switch users, it’s definitely worth a try. However, if you are on PC, and don’t really have friends to play with, it’s not really worth it.