0RBITALIS seemingly captures both the beauty and dangers of soaring through space. It’s a puzzle game revolving around sending a satellite into orbit, trying to find the right trajectory to keep it floating for as long as possible. A simple premise, but difficult in practice, for it requires a ton of guesswork and patience to succeed at.
Especially the former. Once you send off your satellite, its fate is beyond your control. Gravity takes over from there and all you can do is watch and hope it survives long enough for the bar surrounding the area to fill, thus completing the level. A task that grows more difficult as the puzzles become more complex. Stars pull and repel your probe, their colored auras signifying their gravitational properties; stray asteroids bar your path, and hexagonal or triangular bands prevent levels from being completed until you spend enough time within their confines.
Victory seems to come about through chance at first, the mechanics forcing to make a lot of blind throws due to their limitations. But soon enough, everything begins to click. You start to understand the working of each element, how they affect the trajectory of your satellite, and how to (mostly) use them to your advantage. No longer do you just let things go and hope it works out, but instead analyze the situation and work out the parameters, see what’s feasible and what’s not. Your launches become calculated and precise rather than scattershot and wild, everything slowly becoming less and less seemingly random, the underlying logic steadily revealing itself.
Not that it makes you suddenly able to finish levels – even those you’ve already completed – in a single shot. The unpredictable nature of gravity ensures you can never truly plot out a fool-proof approach, continuing to make you work hard for success. Especially if you’re going after the top-slot of the leaderboards, for any time accumulated after the level is complete is counted toward them. Fail to last long enough, however, and you won’t even qualify.
0RBITALIS is out now on Steam on early access. It’s currently in alpha, but is more than playable. We’ll be sure to check in as development progresses to see how it shapes up.