Orborun was developed by Tiny Lab Productions. In-game, you essentially control a pinball and are tasked with navigating through a 3D maze. The maze varies in complexity from map to map and you receive points based both on how quickly you can steer through the maze and on how many collectables you manage to retrieve. I played the recently released Steam version of the game, but it has been out for mobile devices for quite some time.
The controls are pretty straight forward. Your character is an adorable little robot that curls itself into a ball. This pinball steadily moves forward without user input and you’re only options are to move left or right. Visually, the game reminds me a lot of Portal as your character looks like he would fit right in with the likes of Atlas and P-Body. Even the level design looks like the brain child of a member of Aperture Science. After accumulating enough points, you can purchase various skins to customize the little guy’s appearance. Coupled with his animations, he’s certainly the most adorable little pinball I’ve ever played as.
Gameplay takes place on one of six worlds with each world having 15 levels. The gameplay unsurprisingly various from level to level and from world to world. The first world, Haste, focuses on maps with moving platforms and generally has more fast-paced movement. Levels in the second world, Puzzle, contain more obstacles and hidden pathways which allow you to reach the end more quickly or gather more points. The last world is Hazard and it is replete with obstacles that can require copious amounts of trial and error. After completing 10 levels in the basic version of each world, you unlock version 2 of that world. These sequels maintain the same theme but increase the difficulty.
I found that initially, the game played quite slowly, taking a long time before more challenging and fun levels appeared. While forgiving the first level as a simple tutorial, the levels that follow do not ramp up in complexity nearly as quickly as I’d like. If you’re patient enough to unlock them though, many levels can be quite enjoyable. Beyond falling hazards, many levels require you to navigate through puzzle-like warp portals and launch pads to find the exit. Overall, I’d still prefer more opportunities for fast-paced pinball maneuvering. There is one particular powerup that launches the pinball rapidly forward, forcing you to make quick decisions. I found these sections to be the most enjoyable but also the most rare.
I did have a few problems with the game though. When you crash into a wall or fall off the world, you respawn at your previous checkpoint. Unfortunately, the checkpoint system is flawed. From my experience, you respawn facing the same direction you were facing when you triggered the checkpoint, but without the same inertia. So while you may have previously been able to navigate successfully going full speed, you’re now doomed to fail repeatedly until you run out of lives. Or worse yet, you put yourself in such a bad trajectory going into the checkpoint that you never had a chance in the first place. It would be a better system if respawns were all pre-set to ensure that the played had a chance of moving forward successfully. While it was an irritating problem, it was thankfully rather rare.
My most annoying complaint about the game actually has little to do with the core game itself. When you launch Orborun you’re presented with a configuration window to set the resolution and keyboard inputs. Unfortunately there’s nothing that allows you to set the sound levels and I was met with a deafeningly loud soundtrack when first launching the game. Moreover, these settings cannot be changed in-game. If Tiny Lab could add just a few more configuration options, coupled with the ability to at least change keybindings and sound levels in-game, I think it would go a long way.
Overall, I did enjoy Orborun. It’s a game with a simple premise that’s still challenging enough to enjoy. Please follow this link if you’d like to purchase it. I give it an 8/10.