0rbitalis is the most obtuse game I've ever played, and I love it.
Perhaps I should explain: 0rbitalis is an abstract gravity-puzzle game. The object is to keep your tiny red dot orbiting on screen as long as possible, arcing it around planets and stars (represented by larger and smaller abstract shapes) as it swirls and whirls around the screen. While you only have to do so for a very short set amount of time, there are online leaderboards that encourage players to keep their orbits going for as long as possible, with some frankly unbelievable times in places.
But what really makes the game shine is that there are no tutorials, no hand-holding, just you and the simplistic interface you have to manipulate. Everything is learned by intuition. The later levels require you to send your orbit through a geometric shape multiple times, but since it doesn't state that, then you can only figure it out through repeated trial and error. It lets you explore on your own, with just you, the dots, the planets, and the stars.
It's got an interesting sense of accomplishment to it, too. There's just something really satisfying about figuring out the correct arc for your projectile, then following through and watching it curve and loop around the screen. There's something equally relaxing about watching that small red dot arc around until finally it's orbit decays and it drops offscreen or crashes into something on the screen. It's even more satisfying when you cause the dot to loop around for what seems like forever, it's lazy orbit winding down into nothing as you wonder how much longer it can hold out.
And then there's the sound design. The sound is mostly ambient tracks, with the most dramatic sounds in the range being the "ignition" sound when you start the orbit (and I love the way the music grows in intensity as your little projectile orbits around) and the sound when you either crash or complete the level. It's especially satisfying when played through headphones, which only enhance the small sounds used in the piece. Also, the sound designer, Doseone, is actually a really good musical artist, so getting to listen to more of his work is awesome.
I think 0rbitalis is a rarity in the modern indie gaming scene-- a game that actually functions as art and an enjoyable game experience. It's interesting to look at, and even if you aren't particularly adept at the mechanics, you can get drawn into it. There's a lot to discover, and that to me is what makes art art. Not that it conveys a message or can be interpreted in some greater way, but that it evokes a personal experience. Everyone is going to come at 0rbitalis from a different angle, and all of them are going to find their own way through the game. Art connects with people on a personal level. It's what makes art what it is.
So give 0rbitalis a shot. It's simple, elegant, and surprisingly deep. And you may find something new and interesting in the world it presents.
Score: 5 out of 5
Thanks to the publisher for providing a code for review.