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ORION: Dino Horde; a testament to independent development

Orion: Dino Horde


Independent gaming has seen a tremendous growth in the way it is not only developed, but delivered. Microsoft pushes an independent channel on Xbox Live and Kickstarter has given developers an outlet to raise funds that they would not otherwise be able to get in the time they do. Valve combined the ingenuity of both in Steam Greenlight. And through that many games have seen release, play testing, success, and of course failures, that would not have otherwise even gotten a chance. Once title gaining a small wave of popularity through Kickstarter, is ORION: Dino Horde, by Spiral Game Studios, a game that initially failed with the audience who took a chance on this independent title. Despite mimicking what could be considered the best aspects of multiplayer from Halo: Combat Evolved, Killing Floor, and Left 4 Dead, among a few others, it ended up being a disappointing bug riddled mess.

ORION: Dino Horde title card
Spiral Game Studios

Many who had supported the development or were early adopters became quickly turned off to the game as matches and players suffered from instances of poor server connections, broken combat, and general glitch riddled messes. A tough moment for any developer, exasperated for independents because they often suffer from an inability to put time or money into extended play testing. However to the credit of Spiral, they took the criticism to heart and retooled the game from the ground up. While still not perfect, the "Jurassic Update" has improved many of the issues the game had and has begun to have a stronger reflection in that by those who have purchased recently as well as those who have given the game a second chance.

At its core the game is very simple, in the main game mode, 5 players fight increasing waves of dinosaurs that very in type and strength. As they kill the dinosaurs they earn experience and funds. These can be used to increase abilities and weapons so the player can be more effective in combating the titular dino horde. Other game modes such as Spiral's take on "Capture the Flag" allow players to step into the role of the dinosaurs in order to protect eggs from being taken by human players. It is difficult to tell if the game includes lack physics as an unintended kept feature or if it is a byproduct of the engine used for building the game. It allows for the players to take advantage of aspects and the combat to ride vehicles on the outside, jump along cliffs and prevent themselves from being hit by the larger dinos. Though at times it does work against them as the difficulty to melee smaller dinos is quite high and they can find themselves being dragged away from important points by dinos or errant drivers. There are only three classes for the humans to use, Assault, Support, and Recon, with Recon being hardest to take advantage of their special ability. It seems that most avoid using the class as the cloak has limited usefulness, whereas Assault has more mobility with a jet pack and Support heals, even gaining the ability to repair vehicles.

Overall the game provides some solid moments, especially when taking advantage of LAN capabilities and playing with others in the same room. The title is in need of more polish, but as it is, if picked up on a sale of some sort, the enjoyment has enough possibility to far outweigh its cost.