by Josh Ennor
Space. The most frustrating thing in the world. Except for maybe setting up a printer for the first time.
0RBITALIS is a gravity based puzzle game from developers XXX that involves launching a satellite in the orbit of a planet. The aim of the game is to have your satellite orbit for a certain length of time without it colliding with anything along its path or travelling too far from the object’s gravitational pull and therefore being lost in the throes of space forever (Yes, even when it’s represented by a simple square, I still feel bad for it, fuck Space!). In theory, it sounds super simple. And perhaps to those versed in the art of physics, it is. But I am a language and literacy kid, science is as foreign to me as the aliens that no doubt eat your organs when you get lost in space (Okay, I will stop now, sorry). That did not stop me from having fun though. 0RBITALIS is a great puzzle experience coupled with a great minimalistic art style and simple to grasp yet hard to master mechanics.
Full disclosure: The wonderful people from Mastertronic provided us with a press copy of 0RBITALIS at our request, which we are truly thankful for!
Momentum is interesting, and often appealing. Even those of us who have never openly stated, or even thought about it find that to be true. I defy anyone who drops a 20c coin into one of those yellow spinny-things outside your local Woolworth’s and does not have a fun time watching it go down. 0RBITALIS is kind of like that. Your first successful launch comes with such a feeling of accomplishment that you are instantly hooked. Then you see the leaderboard, and see that someone had their satellite orbit for literally 270 times longer than yours did and you realise just how complex this game can be, if you want it to be. I did not want this. I was happy to sit back and watch my little satellite orbit for 15 seconds and feel content before moving onto the next, marginally more difficult planet. Which is where my first criticism of the game comes in…
It’s skill curve is bonkers. I managed to make it through the first eight or nine worlds without much of a problem, perhaps I have a better understanding of physics than I am letting on, but at risk of sounding like a rationalist, I’ve never had any formal training in the matter so that is unlikely. Then we hit the 10th planet and all hell broke loose as I sent satellite after satellite filled with hopeful astronauts to their untimely death, orphaning their children and widowing their spouses (Happy Father’s Day, America!). Once I finally completed it, rather than being filled with a sense of completion, I was instead despising what was to come next, so much so that I quit the game and did not launch it again for a few days. I’d like to say that I got better at it when I returned, but unfortunately not, in fact I’m pretty sure I’m still stuck on planet 11 (Not really, I had a science friend help me over Skype. Thanks Simon!).
0RBITALIS‘ art style is simple and pleasing to the eye. However I feel like they missed a great opportunity to do more with it. The game is quite abruptly cut off about a third of my monitor on either side, and I feel as though stretching it out to the full widescreen experience would have helped it move from great visuals, to amazing visuals. There were also a few times where my satellite would completely leave the screen for a good 3 seconds before returning to complete its orbit, luckily this was before I realised that I could hit the ‘R’ key to retry a botched launch, or I’d have given hit it the second my satellite left the screen. These faults are of course only minor annoyances in what it otherwise a pretty great game. It’s definitely not for everyone, but I defy anyone who doesn’t sit down and have fun, at least for a little while.
|Release Date:||Out now|
|Available from:||Steam ($9.99USD)|
|Developed by:||Alan Zucconi|
Josh is one of the four main writers here at OK Games. When he is not working, he is letting his pets on furniture that they’re not allowed on and sometimes he pretends to study so that his Fiancee will get off his back. You can find him on Twitter, where he usually tweets about the Sacramento Kings and quotes from movies he is watching.