Ah, summer: a time of joy, lazyness, ice cream at least once a day and mosquitos sneaking into anywhere they can with the skills of a FOXHOUND Operative, and also a time of suffering for every pc gamer, who -before they even realize it- find their wallets empty due to compulsory shopping sprees during the Steam Sales.
In this first “issue” of The Flea Market, i would like to bring your attention towards one of those games that usually get a bit overlooked outside of sales season, maybe for the simple (yet stylish) low poly artstyle, maybe for the quite singular gameplay formula or just the release of hypebombs like DOOM during the year, that usually do games like these no favors in terms of publicity.
(Quite) Mobile Suits
Surprise surprise, Orbital Gear is a game about mechas! But it’s also Quake, Super Mario Galaxy and -to some extent- Armored Core: a 2D arena shooter where gravity plays a pivotal role to both mobility and shooting accuracy…an experiment that turned out to be actually successful for a year or so after release, but that for a lack of singleplayer content to make up for the two multiplayer modes and a somewhat steep learning curve, has seen interest for it slowly fade away.
Fortunately enough, the guys at Night Node eventually saw it coming and added 48 singleplayer missions, the “Orbital Trials”, that work both as a training ground to learn how to use and counter the various weapons (twelve in total, with four trials dedicated to each weapon, in which enemy drones use slightly less accurate variants of the same guns you’re using) and movement tricks, and as a “speedrun mode” for those who are into it, each trial having a time limit of two minutes and a rank, in order to incentivise continuous movement and accustom your aim to it, because believe me, it’s a fundamental aspect of competitive matches: if you’re not moving it you’re probably already dead.
Smoking Sick Style Robot Action
Once mastered the control scheme and found a favourite pair of guns (for a beginner i suggest Hornets and Flak Cannon, which are basically swarm guided missiles and shotgun), the aforementioned two modes are going to be a blast to play: Deathmatch is…well…a free for all deathmatch, you know what to expect, don’t you? Even though the whole gravitational gimmick can lead to some pretty complex tactics and shenanigans, especially when using weapons like the Grenade Launcher, which projectiles also use momentum and can roll and bounce over any surface, and the Phase Orb, a slow projectile with his own gravitational field that can be shot through anything…sounds unbalanced, i know, but using the additional thrusters (utility weapon) really helps escaping its field.
Orbital Warfare however, even though it’s not as played, offers a mode similar to (it’s a weird comparison, i know) the Fort Mode in the Worms franchise: team based, only this time with respawn, where killing your opponents charges up a giant doom beam, and the first team who gets to fire it at the other team, destroying their structures and very own giant doom beam, wins.
A match in any of the modes (aside from the Phase Orb scrubs who just spam it from the edge of the map) is a joy to play, and flows as well as Quake or any other of its arena cousins, only in 2D…the thing is, some more people playing Orbital Warfare would be appreciated.
Everything Is Shadows
…It’s not a Linkin Park song, but the most effective way to describe this game’s artstyle, which is pretty much spot on for the kind of high-speed action they’re going for: the light coming from the gorgeous “spacescapes” in the background of the stages puts everything into a slight shade, both marking its outlines, making enemy mechs stand out in the heat of combat, and making the low poly models look smoother and generally prettier, with details like “energy lines” ornating them in a tron-ish fashion, which i love.
Talking about songs, though, the soundtrack is banging, plain and simple: an album of eight four minute electronica tracks that blend trance, dubstep and dnb with the signature sound of James Kalen, Night Node’s own composer, for a volatile mix that suits this game like a glove. My top two are Nebular Ops and The Galactic Frame, give them a listen to see what i’m talking about, because there’s so just so much words can do to express a song’s potential without sounding hyperbolic and ridicolous.
Being a mech enthusiast, loving electronica music and arena shooters, this game hit all the chords it could with me, so i would have given it a 8 out 10 without thinking twice, but the issues i found with matchmaking (sometimes there’s literally nobody online) make it drop to a plain 7.5, BUT that problem is pretty easy to solve: if you liked what you’ve read or you already watched a trailer in the meantime, you can literally buy it NOW: it’s 0,69 dollars on Steam, 2,09 for the x4 pack (three other copies to give away to your friends), so get it, train for a bit and, if you want, host a server!
I guarantee you it’s gonna be worth way more than what you’ve spent.
I hope you found this “review” entertaining and somewhat insightful, this is The 3rd Runner, off to play some more Orbital Gear