Throwback Review – Orbit

Orbit was developed and published by 4bit games. It was released on Xbox One on September 30th 2015 for $6.99. A press review copy was provided for The Hidden Levels. This review contains no spoilers.

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Orbit is a local multiplayer party experience pitting up to four players against each other in a spaceship shootout. It’s all about game play, destruction and fun here as story lines are’t present and graphics are not overly impressive. As a party game it doesn’t have a story, but it doesn’t need one. It’s a game you might pick up and play a few rounds then rinse and repeat. Graphically it works for what it is and may look like an old Amiga game, but it works nonetheless.

What I Enjoyed:

Gravity: The core mechanic in Orbit is gravity. There are eleven different maps all containing Planets, Suns, and black holes. Planets have their own gravity field and any objects nearby are affected. My shots were missing when I first started as I hadn’t accounted for the gravitational pull. The gravity can be used to curve your shots around planets and slingshot your ship around without wasting fuel. It adds a brilliant new dimension to the usual ‘point and shoot’. Now you have to ‘Bend it like Beckham’.

Management: Ships come with an energy bar, a fuel bar, and an ammunition bar but all three are one resource. This adds an element of thought to a hectic game. You can use the bar as fuel, ammo or an ability but once the bar is depleted you can’t do anything. It’s risk versus reward as you have to decide what to use your energy on. Usually I make the wrong choice, then explode.

Speed: Local party games have to be fast, fun, and frantic. Orbit fits the bill here with rounds taking a minute or two. There’s no danger of your friends getting bored waiting five minutes between rounds with an entire tournament taking around five minutes.

Mayhem: Most of the games end up pretty chaotic with lots of kills, deaths, and randomly shooting yourself after your rocket travels around the black hole and comes straight back from whence it came. The group usually has fun at your expense after such a blunder.

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What I disliked :

Local Only: It’s 2016 and games that are focused on multiplayer should not be local coop only. I fortunately have two sons who I used as my test partners but if you are a single person you just can’t play this game easily. The lack of some form of online multiplayer or other way to enjoy the game is a major drawback.

Abilities: There are three unique ships within the game all with their own distinct abilities. Due to the management system most abilities seem redundant and don’t get used as it’s a much better choice to utilize movement and ammunition before these.

Longevity: Unfortunately Orbit lacks depth and with that longevity. Another downfall of being local only, you are just going to struggle to keep revisiting the game. Having to get multiple people together around a screen is a task at times so requiring a group makes the replay limited to social gatherings.

Grinding: The game has an easy achievement list but there are two longer more difficult tasks which will come naturally for some but not for most. Most game players probably won’t want to invest the time unless they have regular house parties. Achievement hunters may skip them due to the grind involved in getting them.

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Despite hating the game at the start I soon realized I had prematurely judged the game and I was wrong. In the right situation Orbit is a cracking little party piece that friends and family will enjoy. The rules of space offer an intriguing slant on the usual shooter and it’s sure to have your friends laughing at your mistakes. The lack of online multiplayer severely holds the game back and is the sole reason why you shouldn’t pick up what could of been a good little title. Barring an update which adds online games, I cannot recommend a purchase.

Score: Skip this game.

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