Lost Orbit Review: Fast, Furious And Tons Of Fun
Floating out in the unforgiving vastness of space, your objective in Lost Orbit is simple: Return home. To do that, you’ll need to blast through the galaxy at break-neck speeds, dodging cosmic debris and all sorts of other obstacles on a quest for salvation.
There are few things that excite me more than a game that comes out of the blue and takes me completely by surprise. That’s exactly the case with Lost Orbit an indie dodge-em-up from the team at PixelNAUTS Games, which released recently for the PC and PlayStation 4. Nearly every aspect of this short but sweet romp is polished to a shine, making for a fun and hectic experience that will keep coming back for “just one more run.”
You are Harrison, a lonely astronaut who finds himself stranded in space and a long, long way away from home. Luckily, you won’t be lonely for too long, as a curious space probe by the name of Atley decides to follow you around, providing narration and even taunting you when you inevitably crash into the side of an asteroid. This narration is one of the first surprises Lost Orbit has to offer. Not only is the voice work very well done, but Atley’s stories are humorous and even unexpectedly touching from time to time. These more direct bits of storytelling are wisely paired with far less hectic levels, too, meaning you can casually guide Harrison around while Atley paints a lovely picture with his words.
As for how you’re going to make it home, you just so happen to be in possession of a very handy set of thrusters that are perfect for catapulting you through space. As the game gets rolling, you’ll have little more to focus on than guiding Harrison through clusters of asteroids and picking up shiny bits of Obtanium. These pink crystals are used to tally your score at the end of the level, but they can also be spent on a light upgrade system, which we'll get to in just a moment.
The closer you get to home, the more dangers this cruel galaxy will throw in your path. Eventually you’ll have to weave your way around automated mining equipment, deadly lasers, misfiring cannons and even some bitey alien threats. Luckily, Lost Orbit’s mechanics are razor sharp, allowing you to weave in and out of seemingly impossible scenarios on a quest for the next checkpoint.
As you gather Obtanium, you’ll be able to upgrade your own arsenal of maneuvers as well. You can equip a secondary booster (so you can go even faster) and even fine-tune its duration, recharge and speed. A barrel roll will help you dodge deadly debris in the blink of an eye, while reverse thrusters can help you get out of the way of danger at the last second. You also get access to a bomb, which is slow to recharge but helps you get out of especially tough situations in a pinch.
Traversing this 40-odd level galaxy requires a mixture steel nerves and skilled piloting. The landscape is peppered with all sorts of anomalies, most of which will affect your locomotion. Planets, for instance, can be used to build speed and refill your secondary thruster’s gas reserves, or you can try to guide Harrison through the planet’s orbit to earn a quick speed boost. Gas giants also give you a quick boost of speed, while wormholes teleport you from one part of the level to another. You’ll need to hit ramps to get through certain areas, or rely on liquid globules to catch you and give you a chance to more carefully shoot through a hairpin turn.
The levels also wrap from one side of the screen to the other, meaning that exiting the left side will have you enter on the right. This can be helpful for quickly dodging seemingly unavoidable asteroids, and is even mandatory for getting through more tricky areas.
Added all up, you’ve got yourself an insane trek through a bright and colorful galaxy, accompanied by a fantastic soundtrack I would gladly purchase separately.
Lost Orbit is the kind of game that puts a smile on your face and stretches it even wider through sheer speed. Once you fall into sync with the controls, you’ll find yourself barreling through the levels at crazy speeds, constantly amazing yourself by how quickly you’re able to respond to insane situations…Well, some of the time. You remember how I mentioned this is an unforgiving galaxy? That’s because there are about a million ways for you to die in Lost Orbit, all accompanied by hilarious death animations that boast bloody splatters, your skeleton soaring out into space and more. You’ll die frequently, but PixelNAUTS was wise enough to include an instant restart similar to games like Trials or Super Meat Boy. Hit a button and, boom, you’re instantly at the previous checkpoint and ready to try again.
While the campaign will only take you a few hours to get through, you can return time and time again in the hopes of earning that perfect run and maybe even working your way up the leaderboards. There’s also a time trial mode, removing the need to collect Obtanium and focusing instead on getting from the start line to the finish line as fast as humanly possible.
Lost Orbit isn’t an overly robust package, but everything it does it manages to do very, very well. The game looks great, sounds great and controls great, and the levels are designed in a way that make you feel like a hair-trigger genius when you manage to string together an impressive run through obstacles galore.
Platforms: PS4, PC
Developer: PixelNAUTS Games
Publisher: PixelNAUTS Games
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