I had never heard about 0RBITALIS until a few days ago. When the developer Alan Zucconi tweeted about the upcoming Early Access game, my first reaction to the game was “Sure, it looks fine,” and that may be yours as well. Thankfully, I tweeted Alan and said I would love to review it. Now, having played through 0RBITALIS, I can say it was a good choice. Over the last few days I have been playing and replaying levels hundreds of times just to get the best time I can, constantly entranced by the games hypnotic visuals. It seems like every free moment I have is spent playing 0RBITALIS’s levels again and again and again.
If you asked anyone who doesn’t play a lot of games what 0RBITALIS reminds them of, I imagine the first answer would be Angry Birds. This is a very simple way of looking at the game. At the beginning of each level you are tasked with choosing the direction and power with which you will launch an object into motion. Two things will stop that motion, exiting the levels boundaries and smashing into one of the gravity pulling objects. As far as I can see, that is the extent to which Angry Birds is a comparison, as the ways in which 0RBITALIS sets itself apart is both distinct and refreshing in ways that I feel blow similar titles away.
The visuals of 0RBITALIS beg to be noticed. The subtle, blooming backgrounds are in stark contrast to the foreground elements stark preciseness, which join to create a visual language that I fell in love with. Watching the projected line of your object weave it’s way around the level is entrancing. The awesome look does’t come without some slight problems, however. The game uses a very obvious color-code to tell users whether an object pulls in the player or pushes them away, but often I found that some objects would have various amounts of pull, which caused confusion in one of the game’s core mechanics. This caused some problems in later levels, making me try out a the level a few times before I even understood what I was dealing with. However, with that being my only real problem, it’s important to remember that the visuals are truly stunning in every other way and that the minor issue is in no way game breaking.
Gameplay is what really defines 0RBITALIS. Unlike the floaty ‘gravity’ found in most games like it, 0RBITALIS feels silky at every turn. No matter what type of gravity you are in, it reacts in a strong predictable manner that means a millimeter in difference can change the shot’s entire outcome. The game uses this gravity aspect in fairly easy to grasp manners, at first, then expands them over time. The goal of the 0RBITALIS turns what gamers expect from this type of game on it’s head. Instead of asking the player to hit a specific point, the goal here is to hit NO points, and survive as long as possible. When you find a pattern that works it’s awesome, watching the level spin and revolve while you narrowly miss and slingshot across the stage, and trying to beat friends times is a real hook. All this ingenuity can cause some frustration in later levels though, as more and more wrinkles are added in. There are a few really good changes that I enjoyed, but there were also some that made levels seem impossible. Without spoiling the unique changes I will offer what I felt to be the worst offender. For the last few levels in the game, 0RBITALIS has players shooting multiple objects at once. While this seemed to be the natural progression point for the game, it did seem as if it was just unreasonably difficult. Shooting one projectile is fun, two is manageable, but three is at most points painful. The real problem here may be that while most additions are eased in, the multi-projectile levels feel like you are starting on the medium levels, perhaps even hard. It’s a small complaint to make against an Early Access game, but what makes these title’s stand out are the little things.
Whenever I talk about Early Access games, I always feel the need to talk about value proposition. 0RBITALIS is launching on Steam for 3.99 (with a launch discount), and for the content that is present I think it is a very fair price. But then I talked with the creator about his plans for the title in the future. Alan said he plans to expand almost every part of the game, and that makes me think that 3.99 is a steal. Whenever I consider the superb visuals and exact gameplay, all I want to do is play more. The small problems I would normally be more irked by don’t matter as much when the game will see regular upgrades to possibly fix those problems. Where 0RBITALIS is right now, I feel confident in giving the game an 8/10, but I have a feeling that when the project is feature complete there may be a point or so added. If you like the gravity gameplay of games like Angry Birds and Castle Crasher’s but want a fresh new spin, then definitely check out 0RBITALIS.
Thanks for reading- Ethan H.