James Stephanie Sterling
The Last Oricru - Achievements In Awful (Review)
Updated: Dec 17, 2022
The Last Oricru Released: October 13, 2022 Developer: GoldKnights Publisher: Prime Matter, Plaion Systems: PC, PS5, Xbox XS (reviewed)
Logically, I know The Last Oricru is not the worst game I’ve ever experienced, but every time I’m playing it, on a deeply emotional level, it feels like the worst. It is to the Soulslike genre what a child’s finger painting is to a Renaissance artwork, such is the gulf of quality between it and every single other game of its type.
On second thought... no... that doesn’t quite do the thing justice.
There are bad games, and then there are failures so immense they defy comprehension. We're talking about media that transcends a basic understanding of poor quality. An achievement in awfulness. With its dismissal of logic and rejection of common sense, with its broken mechanics, twisted systems, and insufferable audiovisual presentation, The Last Oricru is more than mere garbage - it's exceptional garbage.
A third-person action RPG with all the obligatory trappings of a Soulslike - checkpoints that reset enemy spawns, experience points left behind on death, you know the routine - Oricru's woeful ineptitude at once exasperates and allures. Every session is a misery, and yet it’s so phenomenally terrible I find it hard to tear myself away from the purity of its lunacy.
I know exactly where to begin with The Last Oricru. Strap yourselves in... it's a wild ride.
Your girl's going to explain how magic works, for I feel it’s the best way to communicate how moronic this clownshoes production is. If you decide to turn your character into a magic user - the only projectile option in the game - you’ll soon find yourself perplexingly limited. You can equip a staff capable of simple ranged attacks that costs both mana and stamina, but when it comes to more specific spells… oh god. Oh god it’s dumb.
There are no spell slots - you instead equip orbs that contain one magic spell apiece. However, these orbs are equipped in your offhand and there are only two offhand slots. This gives you a paltry two slots in theory, but not in practice thanks to the thoroughly asinine way in which spellcasting is governed. See, using spells obviously costs mana, and unlike with healing, there are no potions available to replenish it. There’s only one way to refill your magic meter and continue spellcasting - equip a specific melee weapon that steals mana with every hit.
If it seems contradictory that a ranged spellcaster needs melee attacks in order to keep casting ranged spells, you might not be prepared for the real kicker - despite being a weapon, the mana drainer is not equipped in the hand used for weapons, but the offhand instead. Yes, where your bloody spells go. Unless you want to run out of spellcasting ability, you can only equip a single spell orb. The reason for this? Who fucking knows? There's not a single rational explanation for it.
Additionally, this weapon - to be used by a spellcaster, remember - has the shortest melee range in the game and excessively eats through stamina, but such nonsensical details are almost besides the point considering how utterly ass backwards the overall system is. It’s easily the stupidest magic system I’ve seen in my entire bloody life. I'm not being hyperbolic either - I've never before witnessed such an outrageous approach to magic.
That’s The Last Oricru for you, a game so clearly imbecilic I’ll never be drunk or high enough to hazard a guess as to what was going through the minds that conceived it.
Your offensive options come in two flavors, magic or melee, and it's inadvisable to try and mix the pair. There’s no stealth in the game because there doesn’t seem to be any AI-guided aggro for enemies. Opponents suddenly become aware of your presence if you step inside their huge alertness radius, triggering simplistic behaviors where they stagger toward you and start swinging weapons in your direction even if you’re a hundred yards away. They can see you from massive distances whether you’re in front of them or behind them, because their intelligence is too rudimentary to even feature a line of sight.
Melee combat is shit. Enemies just mindlessly pummel away, can power through your attacks, are capable of blocking you mid-combo, and it was hours of this crap before I got a weapon strong enough to stagger anything but archers. By this stage, I started encountering enemies capable of dealing huge stamina damage that could drain my ability to attack or defend in a single hit, effectively trapping me in glorified stunlocks. The only decent way to fight anything that can withstand a full combo is to bait an attack, hit the enemy, then step back and bait again, repeating this process until you win. It’s slow and it’s boring, but it works - at least until you get heavier weapons, at which point victory is simply decided by who hits first and spams the attack button.
Don't ask about dodging. Evasion is unresponsive, can send you in unpredictable directions, and seems to feature no invincibility frames. Simply walking backwards is more reliable.
If you’re foolish enough to play this thing, take my advice - get a two-handed heavy weapon as soon as possible. Don't bother experimenting, because there's no reward for trying anything outside of hitting stuff as mindlessly as enemies do. Shields are borderline useless, magic is plain moronic. The bait-and-hit rhythm of smaller weaponry is numbingly dull. Only a slow, high damage attack is worth a shit - if you can't kill something by button mashing, you'll want to maximize damage with all of the solo swings you're able to bait it into taking. There’s basically one “good” way to play - get a giant axe and swing it when it’s your turn.
Funnily enough, because of how fucked up combat is, boss fights are actually the easiest encounters in the game. Unlike common enemies, bosses have trackable attack patterns with gaps in their offense and clear vulnerabilities - they're the only fights that have been balanced in any way and they’re universally a comparative breeze as a result. Well, sometimes they launch attacks out of nowhere because a few of them lack transitional animations and thus blink from one position to another, but that still doesn't make them very tough.
Even without issues inherent to the combat system, fighting just feels grim at a most basic level. It’s sluggish, unresponsive, messy as all hell. It’s hard to judge the range of melee weapons, and when they hit there’s no sense of real impact. Attack animations are so limited they’re shared by weapons that have nothing in common, which means our shitty little protagonist wields halberds like katanas. God, this game is the pits.
All of this sounds pretty rubbish, huh? Don't relax yet, I've still got a doozy for you.
I’ve never seen an RPG literally inform me that a full 50% of its character stats are fucking worthless, but The Last Oricru is nothing if not a trailblazer. When you level up, you can put skill points into six stats, but the game will actually warn you against investing in anything that isn’t strength, dexterity, or intelligence. This is true even if you wanted to use magic and would like to upgrade your mana bar - you’ll be allowed to do it, but you’ll be warned every time that you’re wasting points because such stats don’t let you equip new gear. Routinely, Oricru reminds the player that Life, Vigor, and Will should be ignored.
It’s stunning. Truly fucking amazing. Half the stats are worthless and the game is aware enough of this to straight up tell you whenever you level up. At least it’s honest, but I’ve not witnessed such disclaimers in my life. Is this game a prank? Have I merely been griefed this entire time by an unhinged social experiment?
The Last Oricru’s protagonist has to be heard to be believed. Sounding like he went to a private school and is a card carrying member of the Conservative party, our “hero” Silver is a whining, snivelling, posh little bitch. I think we’re supposed to believe he’s a snarky wisecracker, but his endless sarcasm and snide complaints combine with a pompous voice to create one of the most punchable protagonists in gaming history. He sounds like what you’d get if Jacob Rees-Mogg fucked Minnie Mouse. Just another baffling creative decision in a game full of completely batshit design.
There’s only one thing Oricru does well, and that’s the way it offers truly meaningful choices that noticeably shape its story. The otherwise rubbish plot largely involves conflicts between Navi-esque imperialist racists and the rat people they’ve enslaved. Who you side with not only alters the plot, but environments as well - maps will be populated by different enemies, and even feature different routes through them, depending on who you help. You have opportunities to switch sides, anger or make amends with certain people, and could even please factions equally to remove combat from whole sections of the game because everyone’s friendly enough to be non-hostile.
I’ve switched sides multiple times and murdered pretty much everyone I’ve worked for in a web of betrayal that quite honestly eclipses stuff I’ve seen from infinitely better RPGs. It’s so well done, and yet this choice tree is tied to perhaps the worst game I’ve played this year. Once again, The Last Oricru perplexes - how did they accomplish this when everything around it such a disaster?
Choices aside, the writing itself is dreadful. Cutscenes go on forever and mostly consist of characters standing stiffly and running their mouths about dry fantasy politics, interspersed with cringeworthy attempts at humor. The rats, upon staging a coup, keep talking about their “ratvolution” and refer to each other as… sigh… “brather.” Yes, brather. They tried to make a portmanteau of “rat” and “brother” when, as my husband pointed out, “comrat” was right there.
This is the level of wit on offer. In fact, that’s the wittiest example of The Last Oricru’s writing. The rest of it is far worse, and it's all commentated with smarmy whimpering via a repellent protagonist.
It shouldn’t surprise you to learn Oricru is a technical trash fire. Its framerate is wildly inconsistent, performance is marred by stuttering and slowdown, some missing visual effects lead to such hilarity as torch lights emitting little grey blocks instead of fire. I’ve fallen through the floor, gotten stuck, and generally had a bug-filled time in a world stuffed with ugly graphics and stunted animations.
Also, fuck games that make you hold the movement stick in to sprint. Either you toggle sprinting by clicking the stick, or you stop making games and put yourself in the fucking ocean. Sorry, it had to be said and I might as well say it here.
The Last Oricru is a masterpiece of bad design. When a game has to warn its players not to invest in half the available skill points because they’re worthless, you know you’ve got something special, and that’s what Oricru is - special. It’s so profoundly wrong it deserves to be studied, dissected, remembered for years. Its creators should tour universities and give talks about their artistic philosophies so future generations can learn how never to make a videogame. If you’d told me aliens had developed it, I’d struggle to argue, such is the incomprehensible absurdity on display.
I am in awe of such a marvel.