By Guy Rainey / May 1st, 2014
|Release Date||April 16, 2014|
0RBITALIS is a puzzle game about playing with gravity in space. That may sound simple, but it’s been proven already that gravity is fun to play with. Should you take this voyage or wait for another option?
Primarily, what you will be doing in 0RBITALIS is setting speed and direction, and seeing how long your 0RBITALIS avoids crashing into the suns and debris that floats through the level. The goal is usually to survive for a preset amount of time. Later objectives include orbiting around a certain object and crashing into a certain object.
That’s simple enough in the early levels, but there’s added challenge in trying to score on the leaderboards. Unless someone cheated the system, there really is a way to set your 0RBITALIS so that it orbits for almost an hour without crashing (the best I got was under half a minute) on the first level. If beating leaderboard scores is your thing, there’s a lot of potential replay value here.
In a game about gravity, you’d expect the game to react realistically. And that’s one area where the game appears to fall flat. Maybe it’s just me, but I don’t think that a trajectory like the one in the screenshot above is realistic. Maybe it is; it could be I just don’t know what I’m talking about, but it doesn’t look correct. And, if this was the only time I’d ever seen it, I might let it slide, but this is a pretty common occurrence.
Also, the game doesn’t let you skip puzzles. To be fair, not every puzzle game allows you to skip, but I’ve been given the option enough times now that it feels out of place not to have it. Maybe this is just personal preference, but, when I get stuck on a puzzle, I like to move on, and come back to what I got stuck on later. It lets me solve a new puzzle, so as to let me come back with a clear mind. Maybe then, I don’t try the same tactic again and again.
Presentation is very minimalist, as you can see. All the objects that are supposed to represent stars, planets, moons and random space junk are just geometric shapes of varying colors. That’s not necessarily a problem; it’s just a little bland. Though the game ran fine on my laptop, I sometimes thought I was having issues with the user interface. The UI seemed slow and unresponsive at times. It wasn’t a huge issue, but I did notice it more than once, so take from that what you will. The music is… pretty much non-existent. I can’t remember a single theme from the game, good or bad.
The key thing that 0RBITALIS lacks is variety. The game consists entirely of setting your direction and velocity, and watching it go. Don’t get me wrong; that’s fun early on, since there’s always a new challenge in each level. But after you’ve completed a few levels, you’ll start to get bored with it. There are some attempts to change it a little bit, like adding objects that repel your 0RBITALIS, rather than attracting them, or having you control multiple 0RBITALISES at once, but the lack of variety really shows as you go on. The game becomes a chore in the final levels.
Not long ago, I reviewed Luna’s Wandering Stars, another game about playing with gravity. While I recommend that game highly, this one isn’t as good. I spent about two hours with it max, and it simply doesn’t have as much variety as Luna’s Wandering Stars. There are some very challenging levels that unlock after you complete the main mode, but, other than that, there’s not a lot of content here. If you already have Luna’s Wandering Stars, and want more of that style of gameplay, then it’s probably worth the asking price of $3.99. For those interested in trying out a gravity puzzler, it might be worth trying as a demo for more interesting projects.
Review copy provided by publisher
0RBITALIS is available on Amazon: