Orbital Reader Review
There is a certain gold dust moment when simplicity lends itself to genius. The classic case in point is the “arrange falling shapes into a line” of Tetris, or even the “answer 15 questions to win money” of Who Wants To Be A Millionaire. Concepts that prove that you don’t need multiple layers of depth to be compelling.
Adding itself to the series of concepts that can be encapsulated in quotes is the “shoot orbs to destroy orbs” of Orbital. You are presented with a Tetris area of gamespace to play in, at the bottom sits an osscilating missile command style orb launcher and you poke the screen to fire orbs up the gamespace. When the orb comes to a stop, it expands until it touches the edge of the play area or the edge of another orb. Inside the orb a number appears which denotes how many times you have to shoot the orb for it to disappear. Scoring is based on your ability to destroy the orbs you are firing off into space, like the environmentally conscious bipolar cosmic vandal that you are.
At first you are happily pinging orbs down the play area wondering “and where is the challenge my little neon wireframed friend?” until the area becomes chockablock with orbs reflecting your shots back dangerously close to the dead orb line, for lack of a better term. This is a line you do not cross. From this point on, with furrowed brow, you are carefully planning shots to angle off the walls and orbs to cause maximum destructive effect without ending up blocking yourself off from being able to fire clearly. THIS is where the gold dust moment kicks in. The game is entirely skill based, no need for levels or puzzles to provide challenge. If you are the sort of person who gets joy from crumpling a bit of paper and chucking it across the office into the bin, this is going to be the game for you. Satisfaction from pulling of a choice piece of angle manipulation which knocks out 4 orbs, phone smashing blame fury as you carelessly obscure half the gamespace with a massive circle with the number 3 in it.
The straight up gameplay modes with and without gravity are fun by themselves, but my personal favourite is where things are a bit more mixed up in Supanova mode. The orb destruction count is upped to 5 but your orb launcher is equipped with finger guided laser targeting for some precise orb firing action. Racking up points here relies on packing the area with near to destruction orbs and setting off chain reactions as their death throes collide into the surrounding neighbours. The satisfaction count is upped to near ^_^ levels when you set off an epic combo explosion practically clearing the game area.
Train journeys feel like seconds as you vanish into the clinical wireframe edges and sparkle trails of the orbs flying around the screen. Your detachment from the real world assisted by a pleasing and suitably spacial ambient backing track. Personally I prefer sticking on The Orb’s Adventures Beyond The Ultraworld in the background as an exercise in soundtrack aptness. You may prefer to queue up Muse’s Exogenesis, but at this point I’d suggest subtracting 10 points from the score if you do so.
£1.79 is fair enough for a throwaway game, for a constantly rewarding experience like Orbital, I’d say it is compulsory purchase. By law. Just bypass the Free version and go straight to purchase.