Exorder Review: Quick and Dirty

Exorder is like the McDonald’s of turn-based Roleplaying games. It’s simple, derivative, quick, and you wish there were more layers, but it works. Solid9 Studio’s firstborn managed to make it on the current granddaddy of indie-friendly consoles, the Nintendo Switch. The system’s portability, clear LED screen and touch-screen shortcuts make Exorder the perfect beginner strategy game.

Expect to beat the campaign in mere hours if you’re a seasoned veteran in the strategy genre, but the components are comprehensible and challenging enough for a beginner to beat in eight to 12 hours. The story is as simple as the game; you are Princess Beyla and you lead an army with your brother, Tristan, who wants to inherit the kingdom. The height of the characters’ personalities are one-liners reminiscent of pop-culture. In the 2009 release, “Bayonetta,” when the brute bartender Rodin references “Resident Evil 4’s” merchant salesman, we’re charmed because his personality is as clear as day. The same can’t be said for Beyla’s use of Uncle Ben’s responsibility quote. Cover the story with a colorfully plain overlay and it becomes difficult to take it seriously or humorously. Each of the 12 levels has a new map structure, ally (a new character model to experiment their individual mechanic with,) or mission objective, so each stage is respectfully diverse.

The maps themselves don’t change, however; prepare to see green grasses and stone walls for a while. Each character is assigned a step count, which represents their placement on the grid-based map. The game uses a brick road to show what your possible movement options are, but some characters are able to traverse through patches of grass. This gives a potentially unappreciated uniqueness to some allies as their positions matter the most. Your allies and enemies differentiate in color, but some differences can be as subtle as the Mercenaries pants. Often times you’ll lose characters you didn’t know were on your side, which is easily fixable by a colored aura that surrounds the characters or even a thin cel-shade. Navigation on Switch takes the analog-based character selection and throws it out the window with its touch-navigation. This lets you order subordinates around in two taps as opposed to the awkward “let me look for my guy first” analog controls.

Exorder doesn’t overwhelm players with character options and equipment which lets you focus on ally positions. Guards and Mercenaries can occupy houses, which generate digital money dollars, or “income.” The more income you generate, the more frequently you can buy and summon allies. You can use Architects to push enemies four panels away, but you can also push ally Guards into houses, or push Belya into enemy castles. You can use Illusionists to create illusions of your allies with all their combat abilities intact. Though the illusion can only take one hit and can’t occupy houses, you can still wield the illusion immediately to attack an enemy or act as bait. The strategy of the game lies solely on your ability to map and it makes for a great start for anyone who wants to get into turn-based games like the “Fire Emblem” and “Xcom” series’.

This indie also offers online support, where you can create or join custom lobbies, and a Skirmish mode where you can customize games locally against a computer or another player. These add substance and gives the game a more complete console experience.

Solid9Studios successfully created simple. The game’s map-based strategy offers a legitimate depth, which gets unfortunately negated by the game’s poor presentation. The art gives off more of “click here and play Wizard’s 101” vibe, more than a unique and marketable console release. Needless to say, the Switch port adds mobility and better navigation, so your on-the-go mobile addiction won’t be tampered with. Exorder is best to start with if you want to sneak a foot into the turn-based communities doorway.

Pros

  • Great starter RPG

  • Strong focus on map-based strategy

  • Nintendo Switch screen makes navigation easy

Cons

  • Poor presentation

  • Occasional slowdown

  • Little new for veterans

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