First Look: 0RBITALIS

Jun 01, 2014 No Comments by

After slamming my satellite into the sun a couple times, I was pleasantly surprised to see it graze the hexagonal star’s rim and sail back around, swing between a few passing asteroids, and subsequently back into the sun – this time, from a different angle. I might have been lightyears away from keeping myself alive long enough to pass, but failure in 0rbitalis can have a charm of its own.

The goal of each level of 0rbitalis is to keep your satellite alive for a certain amount of time. Select its trajectory, launch it from an asteroid, and watch as gravity, sometimes majestically, sometimes swiftly, terminates your journey. A red line traces your path, while a dotted line marks your trajectory, though it only shows a second or two of your future. It adds a surprising amount to the game – watching a particularly successful launch weave stellar patterns just makes up for the pain of watching your starchild meet its foretold, untimely end.

sc0rbx

Simple geometry and an ambient soundtrack complement the similarly simple mechanics, creating a tranquil atmosphere (excuse the pun). The fun of 0rbitalis is comes from watching your probe cavort through space, and completing the levels and getting high scores doesn’t feel as important as it might in other games.

The devs did well to describe the game as “a gravity simulator with a retro-puzzle flavor,” since it feels like a disservice to both puzzle games and 0rbitalis to label it a puzzler. Though it can certainly be puzzling at times, it all boils down to trial and error with some educated guesswork mixed in. There’s no convincing sense of mastery like in Sudoku or Tetris – thankfully, it doesn’t need one. The joy of gliding throughout 0rbitalis‘ levels is plenty, and trying to make it hypercompetitive would only betray that fundamental sense of experimentation.

sc0rbcurl

As of alpha release four, though there are 50 levels to drift through, there’s not much else to do. Though it’s hard to dock an Early Access title in alpha for a lack of content, I don’t get the impression there’ll be much more: the recent updates have been more focused around polish, and the dev’s statement on the Early Access page boils down to “enjoy a reduced price while the game’s still in development.” It’s no guarantee, but I wouldn’t be surprised if it didn’t expand too dramatically from here. Either way, it’s only $7 on Steam – definitely worth it for anyone looking for something calm and creative to scratch their brain.

 

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About the author

Amateur games journalist looking to expand his portfolio. When I'm not writing for Super Combo, I'm editing articles for others or goofing around in Dota 2. If you enjoyed the article, let me know! I always appreciate feedback. You can learn more about me at WillUhl.com.
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