Have you ever wanted to just lay back and float around in space? After playing Lost Orbit, you won't want to anymore since getting back home is going to be way tougher than you'd ever imagine! Anyway, let's blast off and get this review started.
Lost Orbit follows a space-based repairman named Harrison who almost instantly becomes stranded in the vast emptiness while working on his latest assignment. With no more ship and only his wits and jetpack to help him through his ordeal, he knows that a grueling journey is about to unfold. Soon, he meets a strange robot probe with a memory more capable than an elephant's. The two interact frequently as they tirelessly march onward to Harrison's home planet. Although their conversations (often portrayed through the probe's recollections) help provide incentive and an underlying layer of humanity, several sophomoric moments tend to take away from the otherwise mysterious and desolate vibe. These routinely happen through abrupt foul language and macho taunting which only serves to disrupt the flow of the storytelling. Along the way, they'll witness oddities such as abandoned stations and alien presences. Who knows what awaits them at the end of their quest?
You control Harrison quite simply and intuitively. Basically, the point is to guide him unharmed from checkpoint to checkpoint within the campaign's various levels. To do this, you must avoid all obstacles because he is a fragile little fellow, after all. To guide him along, you push left and right to rotate him as he automatically glides forward. A couple of complexities come in the form of being able to loop between the sides of the screen and orbit around certain obstacles. While you navigate through the levels, you collect Obtainium that you can use to purchase and upgrade new moves. These allow Harrison to perform barrel rolls, drastically slow down or speed up, have Obtainium magnetically attract to him, and detonate bombs that clear small obstacles away from his immediate surroundings. You'll feel a sense of progression as you purchase more upgrades since mastering how to avoid obstacles and speed through levels efficiently is a rewarding adventure in itself. Even though the gameplay is simple and satisfying, that doesn't mean that this is going to be easy!
Graphically, Lost Orbit doesn't offer anything particularly special, but the visuals do their job well. Environments and characters are lightly cel shaded while points of interest glow with neon colours. This style gives the game an arcade feel and allows you to navigate your way through with ease. That being said, certain areas are engulfed in shadows where it can be quite difficult to make out obstacles; especially when you're rapidly boosting ahead. On another note, Lost Orbit's orchestral scores blend masterfully with electronic synths to establish the cinematic and science-fiction atmosphere. The overlaid vocalized narrative is effortlessly heard as the music gently fades before someone begins to speak. Effects as you pick up items come out of the controller which is a nifty addition to the already fully featured soundscape. Overall, Lost Orbit's graphics serve their purpose for the most part and the accompanying audio is very well done.
Lost Orbit's campaign consists of 42 levels that gradually become more challenging. Considering these levels take about a few minutes each, you're looking at one decent sized adventure. As you progress, new features are introduced such as wormholes, turrets, ramps, and a couple of alien enemy types. Although these various mechanics help diversify the experience, the core gameplay barely changes throughout. There are a few levels where all you do is float and listen to some exposition and a level where you race your probe buddy, but besides those there really isn't anything that helps break up the journey. In the end, it seems like a missed opportunity to not include the odd shooting or chase segment. After each completed level, you're assigned a rating based on your total time, Obtainium, and deaths. This is a great way to add replay value for completionists, but being able to get a good rating is intensely challenging due to the brutal ranking system. However, if you're up for a decent challenge then you surely won't be disappointed.
If you're in the market for an arcade-style survival game with an intriguing narrative then you'll enjoy your time with Lost Orbit. Although it may not send you to the moon, you'll be satisfied enough to see the journey through to the end.
- + Well-paced and lengthy 42 level campaign
- + Fantastic atmospheric soundtrack mixes well with the intriguing spoken narrative
- + Plenty of replay incentives for perfectionists
- - Core gameplay doesn't change much
- - Sophomoric moments take away from the narrative's somber and mysterious tone
- - Sometimes obstacles are hard to spot