You never know what life is going to throw your way. One minute you’re just doing your job as a maintenance guy fixing something in Space, the next an asteroid comes along and destroys your ship. This is the fate that befalls Lost Orbit’s protagonist, Harrison. He isn’t the hero sort but an average person who has been thrust into a survival situation by space debris. He doesn’t have to take this journey alone though as a probe called Atley decides to join Harrison, and face the dangers of Space with him.
Lost Orbit is a dodge ’em up game where the main aim is to avoid everything that crosses Harrison’s path, including asteroids, wreckage, malfunctioning lasers, and creatures that gnaw on him. Harrison isn’t completely helpless against these hazards however, as Atley can convert Obtanium collected into upgrades that you can use in your bid to get home. The Obtanium manifests itself as pink and silvery chunks of matter floating in space, coloured brightly to catch your eye as you navigate the galaxy.
The early levels are rather simple to navigate as they teach the basics on how to fly, though I did have to delve into the menu and read the tutorials to get a better grasp of how to perform actions like boost to move faster than the basic speed. Other than that the gameplay is quite easy to pick up, and soon Lost Orbit introduces different ways to travel or die. Each of the four environments brings in a couple of new additions, from globs of water that stop Harrison so you can aim in which direction you fly, or wormholes that subvert Harrison’s path so he doesn’t crash into something that would turn him into nothing but drops of red.
You can also fly off screen and reappear on the other side which is required with some levels where pathways become narrow. Navigation is helped by a blue arrow that points in the direction Harrison will fly, though you’ll need to manage the boost as he can just as easily become a splat on a rock. Movement in general is good even if in some instances it felt like Harrison’s turning circle was overly big, making sharp turns difficult to manage. However this is counteracted somewhat by the fact that you can fly back through a stage in case you miss some Obtanium, though that will obviously affect your completion time.
At the end of most levels you’re awarded bronze, silver, gold, or platinum medals, with this determined by how quickly you are able to help Harrison navigate through the stage, the amount of Obtanium obtained, and how many times Harrison dies. Each has their individual goals and at the end these are averaged out to award the medal. Expect a lot of bronzes and a couple of silvers on your first run as obtaining platinums requires upgraded gear and a map of the course committed to memory. Lost Orbit isn’t a hard game to pick up making it accessible for all players, and it is also quite a fun experience.
The voice acting is very well done, and the script is littered with jokes that will make you smile. All of the game’s story is narrated by Atley, including Harrison’s own musings, with the scenarios switching between being humourous to becoming retrospective as Harrison contemplates the fact that he is facing a life or death situation. Neither character comes across as a hero but instead represents what you or I may be like facing such odds. Harrison and Atley are characters that you can relate to.
Visually Lost Orbit is a good-looking game, though there were some areas where it wasn’t quite clear whether something was part of the background or directly in Harrison’s path. There are some truly spectacular looking stages within Lost Orbit, with The Twins level definitely the one that stood out for me personally. The whole game looks polished, and I didn’t encounter any bugs during my playthrough either.
I found my time with Lost Orbit to be enjoyable, and I wish there was more to it outside of the three hour campaign and time trial mode. The fact that I want more speaks highly of Lost Orbit and how it managed to hold my attention all the way through. The levels are well crafted, the voice acting well done, and the environmental art looks fantastic. There’s also an enticing level of challenge, especially if you go for the platinum medals or look to climb the world leaderboards. If you like dodge ’em ups then this is one of the best available, and if you’re new to the genre it’s a great starting point.
Version tested: PS4