Orconomics: A Satire by Matthew Marchitto

Orconomics: A Satire, by J. Zachary Pike, is a riff on fantasy gaming and its conventions. Taking place in a world of orcs, dwarves, elves, and a whole manner of other creatures, it tips the expected status quo on its head. In the world of Arth professional heroics is exactly that, a profession, with investors and stocks and a ranking system. The goal is to kill the baddies, take their loot, and divvy it up among the heroes and investors.

Death is not only expected, but encouraged. Heroes either get the loot, die in the dungeon, or get hanged as deserters.

But it’s not glamourous, it’s a taciturn job, where causalities are hand waved away as long as the investors get their loot. It’s anything but heroic.

Gorm Ingerson, a fiery hearted dwarf warrior, is a disgraced hero. Once called Pyrebeard, known to all the land, he now drinks himself senseless in backwater gutters. Gorm is given a second chance by a priest of a mad god, and he takes it (with a little nudge from a blackmailing mercenary). Along with a cast of characters that comprises the party, they set out on what is expected to be a doomed quest.

Orconomics strongest assets are its characters. They’re all fleshed out and fun to read. They bicker, make peace, and bicker again. As the story unfolds there is a real sense of comradery that develops between them, but one that doesn’t overshadow the interpersonal conflicts.

If you’ve ever played a fantasy game, either a video game or pen and paper RPG, there’s a lot in here for you. Like how each hero has a class (warrior, mage, thief, ranger, etc.) which will sound familiar to most gamers. And each hero has to accrue points from killing enemies to gain “ranks” (level up). There are a whole lot of other little nods and jabs at conventional gaming, but even if you’re only casually familiar with fantasy games there’ll still be something in here for you.

One of the main aspects of the story are NPCs and their role in the world. An NPC is a shadowkin (orc, knoll, goblin, etc.) who have been granted their non-combatant papers. This means they can work and live among lightlings (humans, dwarves, elves, etc.), but that doesn’t mean their treated the same. And early on we get a clear picture that they’re living on the bottom rungs of society. As Gorm and his party get further into their quest, we get to see even more of how professional heroics interact with the shadowkin and NPCs. It flips the dungeon crawl on its head, making the shadowkin fleshed out characters that occupy a gray area.

The first quarter of the book meandered a bit. It was front loaded with exposition and set-up, but once the party got together and started the quest, I was all in. The interpersonal relationships are the crux of the story, and they are all fascinating and enjoyable to read. By the end, this rag-tag team of washed up heroes really felt like a team—even if they don’t all get along.

I’d definitely recommend this to fans of fantasy, but especially to fantasy gamers.

Check it out on Amazon and Goodreads

Milkmaid of the Milky Way by Matthew Marchitto

Milkmaid of the Milky is a 90s style point-and-click adventure, where you play as a milkmaid on a journey to save her cows. Developed by Mattis Folkestad of Machineboy (essentially a one man team), Milkmaid of the Milky Way is a labour of love. And I think it shows. It has evocative visuals, amazing music, and is written entirely in rhyming verse. Passion was poured into this game, and it’s better for it.

Milkmaid of the Milky Way is both whimsical and melancholy. A story about being alone and coming together. The protagonist, Ruth, lives alone on a small farm. Her only companions are cows, but she is devoted to them. When a spaceship shows up and abducts her bovine friends, she vows to go save them. Here is where the story takes off, and I don’t want to say anymore for fear of spoiling it, but things get much more complicated as the story twists and turns.  

The dialogue is written in rhyme, and coupled with the hand drawn backgrounds, the game has a storybook feel.

Despite the spaceships and cows, the story is about moving on, fighting loneliness, and asking when your responsibilities are infringing on your life and happiness. It’ll leave you wondering if you’ll have any regrets when you’re older, and maybe put a fear of stagnation in you.

On PC the game controls like most point-and-clicks. You move by clicking on an area of the world, and you can double click to run. This is a nice feature that keeps you from lumbering back and forth as you traverse the environments, especially when you have to do some backtracking. You also click to examine or interact with an object (including items in your inventory), and dragging items from your inventory onto an environmental object will let you use it on the object.

The cursor also helps identify interactable elements by pulsating when you hover over them.

The puzzles are straightforward and not too difficult to figure out. Whenever I was stuck, I found myself backtracking a little more than I would have liked, but the run feature went far in alleviating that minor stressor.

The components of the puzzles fit nicely into the world. When Ruth uses a wooden spoon to reach something, or her knowledge gained from farm work to solve a problem, it’s believable. The puzzles never felt abstruse or out of place.

Milkmaid of the Milky Way is a beautiful game. Its characters are all endearing, and it manages to communicate personality through visual cues and terse dialogue. It’s a tightly made package, with a strong story, evocative music, and gorgeous visuals.

I highly enjoyed it and would recommend anyone looking for a point-and-click adventure to check it out. 

Buy Milkmaid of the Milky Way on Steam for PC and Mac, or on iTunes for iOS.

You can find Mattis Folkestad on twitter, at, or visit Milkmaid of the Milky Way’s official site.


I was provided with a free copy for review.