Ogre - PC Review

Ogre is a classic tabletop strategy game by Steve Jackson Games, and while it is fantastic to see a game like this get the digital treatment, the end result is generally solid, if not great. Ogre hits many of the necessary notes needed to make it a success, though there are better strategy video games out there.

I have been a longtime fan of Steve Jackson Games (we've covered a few of their tabletop products here in the past in fact), I was really curious to see how the old school board game would translate to the digital age. The end result? Somewhat mixed, and it has less to do with the base game than the digital implementation.

Right out of the gates, Ogre was a bit lacking on the tutorial front. Now, to the game's credit, the update on 10/12 actually helps because it provides more information in the UI, especially where it regards advanced functionality. Now you can properly preview and pin tiles in a way that makes the playing field somewhat more informative. Seriously - if you're looking to invest in this game, then check out this video about the patch:

Moving on from the relatively sparse tutorials, let's talk about the base gameplay itself. Thankfully at a glance, the game should look familiar to strategy fans with its hex-based grid system and turn-based representation of warfare. This is a tactical game where the objective is to move about the map first, and then experience the attack phase. You objective is to take out the titular Ogre - a massive mechanized beast that can deliver considerable damage and also has a high defense.

Really, just about everything in Ogre boils down to two things: risk versus reward and luck. The first is the actual strategy component of the game, as you try to figure out just how much abuse you're willing to subject specific units to, while attempting to deal as much damage as you can on your turn. Where the luck component comes in is that this is a pretty faithful recreation of the old board game, and the random number generator is a beast at times. As someone who has rolled more than his fair share of critical failures in all types of tabletop gaming, I am well-versed in watching something that should succeed come crashing down on me in a way that leaves me both frustrated and sometimes amused. For better or for worse, the Ogre video game did a nice job of recreating that sensation during turns where I thought a particular outcome was all but certain, and the RNGods decided to mock me and my many misses.

This is all very solid gameplay, with a core I can get behind. There is a reason that this is considered such a classic strategy title, and this part of the board game translates pretty well to the digital screen. However, other parts of the game are much more hit and miss. I mentioned the above patch, which is great. When Ogre first released, there were more bugs than there are today, but some still exist as of writing this game. Some are just minor UI quibbles, others are of the freezing variety, which are much more frustrating. Finding multiplayer matches was a real chore - which is a shame because I think that based on my couple of multiplayer games, this would actually be a pretty good time between friends.

There is also a solid enough 10 stage single player mode that reminds me of classic strategy games like Master of Monsters on the Sega Genesis. The stages are well-enough designed, but they all seem to live in a space completely separate from one another. The scenarios and objectives are clever, so the stages are well-designed, I just wish there was a bit of cohesion between the stages themselves since the overarching narrative is an interesting one.

The presentation is also a slightly mixed bag - solid, but far from spectacular. Sound effects and music get the job done without getting annoying, and environments do their job - though I found them to be a bit drab. The highlight is in the units themselves, which do a nice job of representing the old plastic pieces while animating better than I expected as they move about the board and fire on one another. The cumulative damage on the Ogres themselves is a nice touch as you might note that their weapons or treads are degrading over time.

The video game of Ogre is in many ways representative of the original's time. The visuals and sound feel somewhat dated, but the core mechanics are still excellent. I have a feeling that this is a game that will only get better in the upcoming weeks - if I had given a review score on release day, it would have been a five out of ten - average, acceptable, but nothing special due to the bugs and presentation. Thankfully the UI and bugs are getting dealt with at a rapid pace, and the end result is better for the continued TLC it has received.  

Game Information

Auroch Digital
Auroch Digital
Single Player
Local Multiplayer
Online Multiplayer
Other Platform(s):

Provided by Publisher

Article by Nick


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