0RBITALIS is a fun game, one that you can lose yourself in a while but never quite get completely lost in.

By Artemis, Posted 01 Jun 2015

When you're playing around with gravity, something bad is bound to happen, like launching your satellite directly into a star or a planet. This is something the player will be running into a lot in the game 0RBITALIS, a satellite launching simulator with a retro puzzle style. Published by Mastertronic and developed by Alan Zucconi, the game simulates launching satellites into a successful orbit, or making them crash and burn quickly depending on how good you are at the game. Though to say that you're the one entirely in control would be incorrect for you are, in fact, not in complete control of your little probe's own destiny. One thing rules this game, and that is the rules of gravity.

0RBITALIS is not completely scientifically accurate — just stating that at the very beginning of this review before the game is discussed any further. It doesn't diminish the fun that can be had from the game, however, because while it may not be a hundred percent accurate, it does provide an idea of what launching one of these things is like and how hard it is to keep it in orbit. For quite a long time we've been told by NASA how hard it is to launch something into space, how to make sure everything is working perfectly well and how gravity is playing a big role in all of that. Now you have a chance to experience their frustration on a smaller, more cost-efficient scale.

The atmosphere in the game is immersive in its own way, and you will feel like you're in your own little world. It makes it seem like each little sector you go in is its own world and you're just visiting for a time. While it doesn't feel nearly as expansive as it could have, it's techno-ish music and minimalistic graphics will give you a sense that you're no longer on earth.

0RBITALIS gameplay

There's no story. You're just a tiny red entity launching your probe or satellite, hoping that you will get it in orbit around planets, stars, and other space objects. A certain number of puzzles are based around trial and error, which may be a turn off for those who want a realistic space simulator. However, there are many rich complexities in this game that can be missed by the naked eye, which are not limited to the number of different ways you can get your little red triangle to orbit. There isn't only one solution to every problem that is presented, there are dozens of solutions that are hidden and you can find almost any of them by just testing the 0RBITALIS game mechanics. A lot of it is about testing your theories and seeing how they work out. The gameplay itself uses a small dotted red line coming out from your satellite that shows the path that the thing is going take. If a little red dot shows up, it shows that your little triangle will crash and you'll have to start the level over again. There are no lives in this and there is a helpful feature that shows where all of the other players have died giving you a chance to vaguely get the idea of where not to launch.

Now, your path changes the longer you wait, which means you may only have a few seconds in order to get the perfect shot. The game doesn't convey to you which object exactly it wants you to orbit around, which can be confusing. You may find yourself creating a perfect orbit around something else entirely and not get any further in the level. However, when a perfect orbit is created and you see your little red triangle circling, it does provide a sense of accomplishment as you sit and watch it go. The player can always skip ahead as soon as they see the continue arrow, but it is fun to see just how long your little ship can go. There's nothing more satisfying in this game than to see your ship going for quite some time. It shows that you have a grasp of the games controls and you know how to make them work for you.

0RBITALIS gameplay

There are 50 different levels and various sectors you can complete at your own leisure. If you're having too much trouble with one thing, you can always go to the star chart and try the next. You aren't restricted to a linear level progression; you can play any level in any order if you want to, giving you the chance to choose your own pace and how you progress in the levels. This isn't the sort of game you'll want to play all in one sitting, it's a sort where you beat a few puzzles and then take a break for a while. Playing this game in large doses, while it can be fun, can also sour the overall experience because of the drastically different orbits you have to come up with, you may find yourself doing the same thing over and over again, expecting better results. It's the sort of game you play after a long day at work or when you want to just fool around and have fun. It's difficult but rewarding at the same time, but playing it for too long can get repetitive and slightly tedious.

There are a few technical issues that are a little jarring, like when you pull up the Steam overlay when you're playing the game full screen, the game starts flashing white like a strobe light and there's a slight delay on your launches when you come back from that.

Players have the option of creating their own levels in the Steam Workshop and a Daily Challenge is often posted up to try you skills, so even if you somehow bulldoze through each and every puzzle you'll still have a chance to play this game long after you've completed it. This gives it a lot of replay value, particularly with the 39 achievements which are a feat to achieve, such as the 1 hour orbit achievement.

0RBITALIS is a fun game, one that you can lose yourself in a while but never quite get completely lost in. It can be fun, but it can also be frustrating because of its shortcomings. It's the sort of game that's a test of not only your luck but your mind as well, and the combination of those two things really works out in the end.

Angelina Bonilla, NoobFeed (@Twitter)

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General Information



Platform(s): PC
Publisher(s): Mastertronic
Developer(s): Alan Zucconi
Genres: Simulation
Themes: Puzzle
Release Date: 2015-05-28

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