Combining genres can be a tricky old game. Do it right and you potentially bring together two or more target audiences. Do it wrong and you run the risk of alienating everyone.
Orions Legend of Wizards is what can only be described as a real-time strategy card game RPG. If the concept of such amalgamation seems convoluted, fear not; Orions is both well executed and cunningly coherent. Upon selecting the campaign mode and choosing a ruling elemental overlord you’re presented with a map screen comprised of a number of floating island cities (Orions). Controlling a zephyr like air ship it’s up to you and your advisors to conquer these ‘Orions’ by building up an army and waging war on the local rulers. The battles (or duels) are fought by laying down cards from any of the six elemental schools (fire, earth, water, air, life and death) with the idea being to block enemy attacks while dishing out some serious offense to your AI counterpart. Once you’ve overthrown the local government you have the option to then build on their island, generating resources and facilities to recruit new cards for your deck.
As with most card games dueling Orions takes some getting used to. For the first hour or two you’ll most likely find yourself double checking card stats and abilities and making very careful, considerate decisions in battle. After this initial teething period, though, the game opens up, providing an in-depth dueling system that can be tailored to your preferred playing style; save your points and unleash a couple of destructive cards, or slowly pick away at enemy defenses? The choice is entirely yours.
Having such an all-engrossing campaign mode may put off some, but thankfully Orions offers a battle-only duel mode. Duel mode sets you up with an AI or human opponent (hot seat multiplayer) and a random selection of cards. The campaign mode, with all its economical development and RPG style leveling up, is great for lengthy gaming sessions at home while the relatively speedy matches of duel mode work perfectly as on-the-go time killers.
It almost feels as if Orions has every base covered, but there is still the question of audience. Anyone looking for a full-on RTS experience is likely to feel let down by the fairly limited options of the campaign mode. Likewise die-hard collectible card game (CCG) fans are liable to baulk at the idea of such little card customisation available in duel mode. Orions will really appeal to the casual gamer willing to invest a little time in something new. If you can set aside your pre-conceptions of what is expected from a CCG or RTS title then you’ll find yourself with an experience that’s entirely new and wholesomely rewarding.