Wot I Think: Okhlos

Myths and legends! Ancient Greek philosophers! Proletariat revolution! The natural ingredients, of course, of a spectacularly stupid game.

Good stupid, not bad stupid. Or at least, deliberate stupid, not accidental stupid. Okhlos [official site] is a big, dumb, like really really dumb, mash-up of a shmup, ARPG and briefly notorious GTA coat-tail-rider State of Emergency, wherein you amass a growing horde of ancient Greek sorts then go lay waste to any and everything in pursuit of liberty from titans, gods and their various hired help.

It is, fundamentally, a game in which you do this:

CLICKCLICKCLICKCLICKCLICKCLICKCLICKCLICKCLICKCLICK
CLICKCLICKCLICKCLICKCLICKCLICKCLICKCLICKCLICKCLICK
CLICKCLICKCLICKCLICKCLICKCLICKCLICKCLICKCLICKCLICK
CLICKCLICKCLICKCLICKCLICKCLICKCLICKCLICKCLICKCLICK
CLICKCLICKCLICKCLICKCLICKCLICKCLICKCLICKCLICKCLICK
CLICKCLICKCLICKCLICKCLICKCLICKCLICKCLICKCLICKCLICK
CLICKCLICKCLICKCLICKCLICKCLICKCLICKCLICKCLICKCLICK
CLICKCLICKCLICKCLICKCLICKCLICKCLICKCLICKCLICKCLICK
CLICKCLICKCLICKCLICKCLICKCLICKCLICKCLICKCLICKCLICKCLI

Only your clickclickclicking does not make your character, one of the aforementioned philosophers, go beat seven bells out of whatever varying degree of gigantic foe you’re up against. Instead, it commands your otherwise mindless horde to go do it for you, and generally take out a few buildings in the process. (Units are somewhat rote pixel art 2D, by the way, whereas buildings are 3D. It looks slightly disjointed in practice, but not distractingly so).

Any number of these proles – expect to have around 30 at any one time – can be thumped to death by a myth or monster almost without consequence, as new recruits are readily available so long as you’re not in a boss fight, but if your philosopher conks it, it’s game over. Well, sort of: you can acquire new philosophers, which are effectively lives, via a trading system that sees you sell particular horde members for others.

So yeah, when all your philosophers conk it, it’s game over, and you’re back to the start of your destructive sprint through the levels, in a vaguely roguelike fashion. During the course of your mayhem you can also buy Heroes who convey horde-wide bonuses such as attack and defence buffs, and, progress aside, it’s only really the loss of these which hurts when you have to restart.

The point of the game, after all, is click-based mass destruction, so if you’re digging the one, single, clickclick-smash thing Okhlos does, you’re not actually going to complain about doing it all over again.

Every few levels, you get a change of setting and a climactic boss. Always a god, always screen-high, always with a Binding Of Isaac-style gimmick that you’ll need to learn the patterns of in order to avoid a wipeout. This is nothing like as challenging or finickity as something like Isaac though: you’re essentially playing as a many-headed steam roller, and so long as you can keep your philosopher a few steps away from the main fray, you can bash your way through a fair chunk of Okhlus without heartache.

In fact, my major obstacle throughout was simply working out where the bloody hell the cursor was half the time. It was invariably obscured by my screaming hydra of units, over which various flame, poison and hallucinatory smoke effects were often overlaid, and half the time it’d take me a few seconds to realise my guys were all busy thumping the side of a barn instead of the murderous cyclops that was pursuing me.

I’m in two minds as to whether this is a UI failing or just part of the entirely chaotic fun, but lean more towards the latter. ‘Haha what the hell is going on’ is a wise mentality with which to approach this cheerful nonsense.

It’s a giggle, and the mindless destruction of it is irresistible for a while, but I guess I felt I’d seen all it had to offer me after a couple of hours. Bigger, harder bosses, some different scenery and units, sure, but it’s clickclick’n’bash forever, without even the deathless upgrade loops of an ARPG. Whether you should pick it up depends on how long you think that’s going to make you laugh, really.

Okhlos feels like an elevator pitch – ‘go smash up a comedy ancient Greece’ – made flesh, without too much worry about expanding upon the concept. I do admire that, there’s a purity and a glee to it, and it’s refreshing to not butt up against a skill ceiling as in something like Isaac, but I guess once you’ve smote one god, you’ve smote ’em all.

Okhlos is out now.

From this site

6 Comments

  1. TΛPETRVE says:

    Guess I’ll just stick to the more interesting Anarcute, then :-) .

  2. Shakes999 says:

    Picked it up and played last night. It fun, the music knocks it out of the park, and it made me laugh.

    That being said, I could see myself getting bored after a few playthroughs. It’s worth the 10 bucks for sure

  3. Distec says:

    This reminds me of the “pain trains” one would see in Realm of the Mad God, a lite little MMO with permadeath that actually kept me pretty engaged for a few months. Players would form these packed murder-balls and roam the lands, slaughtering everything that came close. Then you’d all parade up to castle and inelegantly spam the shit out of some boss.

    A game revolving entirely around that seems pretty ace.

  4. Vorig says:

    This is one of those games that would definitely benefit from a demo. It’s a one trick pony that gets pretty boring after less than an hour or so. I felt like I was getting carpal tunnel within 20 minutes.