May 24, 2012

A Hybrid With Potential

Lasting First Impressions of THORG from Armaan Khan

One of my favourite genres of games to play on my iPad are hidden object games such as Escape Rosecliff Island, Time Mysteries, and The Mystery of the Crystal Portal.  These are the perfect pick-up-and-play games for when you just have a few minutes of spare time.  One the other side of the scale are RPG games, typically not a game you can just begin playing when you only have a few minutes since these usually demand much more attention and time to play.

While both of these genres are favourites of mine, imagine my surprise when I learned of a new iPad title that took both of these styles and merged them together into one.  The result is the aptly named THORG, The Hidden Object Roleplaying Game.  Toronto-based indie developer, Armaan Khaan, a self-proclaimed failed writer/cartoonist who has always dreamt of working in the games industry, decided to invent his own genre of game and his THORG series was born.  Currently THORG is only available for iPad but a universal app may come later.

THORG screen 2The object of THORG is quite straight forward: clear every square on an 7×7 board and survive.  For every square you open up one of several random things may occur such as receiving an increase to your attack power, defense, or an increase in your money reserves.  You also have a chance of a random encounter with a creature.  Defeating enemies comes in the form of the aforementioned hidden object game. In order to win the battle, you must find the objects listed on left of the screen.  For ever object found, you will inflict an amount of damage equal to your attack rate.  There is a timer, however, that counts down to zero at which point you will take damage equal to the attack power of the enemy creature.  The game is really that simple.  Simply concept, yes, but not simple to beat, that much is for sure.  The power of the enemy is proportional to the number of squares you’ve already opened up, so if you haven’t found enough attack increases, you could be in trouble.

THORG screen 1

THORG is not a perfect game, but what indie developed game, made by one man, is perfect?  For one, I was a little taken aback by the fact that the entire game is colourless; a black and white experience is all you’ll get here.  It is my hope that some colour will spruce up the game in future builds.  It took me a while to figure out the mechanics in the game as there is no built-in tutorial or instructions or explanation of what anything in the game means so be prepared for some trial and error when you first play the game.  Additionally, the game does not save any progress; if you don’t finish a round before exiting the game, you will always start from the beginning when you open it up again.  This really isn’t a big deal, since once you either clear the board or die, the game is over anyway.  Each play is a new game.  Additionally, the music used in the game just doesn’t seem to fit.  It is a classical music piece that just continues playing throughout the entire game no matter what is happening.  I find myself just turning the volume down when playing the game.  In future builds, I’d love to see different music for the board and another, more upbeat tempo for the battle screens.  I also wish the required object boxes would automatically fill with another random object once one is found instead of having to clear all four objects before receiving four more.  In most cases, it will take more than the initial four objects to defeat an enemy so having to clear everything before being given four more makes it much more difficult.

Honestly, at first I wasn’t sure I liked the game at all. It could have been due to the fact that I had no idea what I was doing, but the more I played, the more I found myself coming back to it for just one more round and desperately wanting to clear the board.  As a hidden object game it is really well done.  The objects, while seemingly right in front of you, are well hidden. Several objects are specifically created as opposites to one another adding yet another difficulty in finding exactly the one object you need (a candle with a flame and one without, for example).  As a $0.99 iPad game, THORG is a fun new hybrid of two great genres.  Ultimately more hidden object than RPG but the added elements make it not only fun, but nerve-wracking at the same time. If you, like me, are a fan of indie-developed titles, you owe it to yourself to give this one a try.

Armaan, I gave you an hour and I am IMPRESSED.

About the Author

Sean is an avid gamer and lover of all thing tech. He is a dedicated husband and the father to three beautiful daughters. In addition to taking his love of gaming to a new level with this site, Sean is also host of our podcasts: The OMG! Hour, Lost Treasures of Gaming, and Primetime as well as the bi-weekly podcast mashup show, Gamers Unscripted. Follow Sean on Twitter as @Xiantayne and this blog as @OMGnexus.



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