Developer: Ratalaika Games
Publisher: Ratalaika Games
Genre(s): Platformer, Puzzle, Arcade
Platform: Nintendo Switch (also available on PS4, PS5 and Xbox)
Age Rating: PEGI 3
Release Date: 26/08/2021
A code was provided for review purposes
If You Can Dodge a Wrench, You Can Dodge a Ball
Okay, so there’s not much dodging involved in Orbibot, but there’s certainly a ball, which is the aforementioned Orbibot itself. What is an Orbibot? Why is it trapped here? Not a clue, my friends, as Orbibot is one of those games that just chucks you in at the deep end and says ‘Go for it’. So, like a good little reviewer I went for it.
And We’re Rollin’
After you get over the fact that you have zero idea about what you’re actually supposed to do, Orbibot is a very pleasing game to look at. Your ball is placed inside a floating platform puzzle maze type thing (made of guide rails, moving platforms, mirrors and the like) and you have to work out what actions you need to take to allow your ball to get to the end. When you make it, you are teleported to the next level. When you’ve completed all fifteen, the game ends – despite the ‘next level’ prompt that appears.
As is standard in these sorts of games, the levels get more complex, with multiple tasks to complete to progress. These are usually in a specific order that you have to work out through trial and error. You might have to roll on a pressure pad that releases a block, which you then have to push to a conveyor belt. This is then activated by you rolling up a spiral rail track to get to another pressure pad, which transports the cube eventually to yet another pad otherwise inaccessible to you, and that will open a door.
Phew! Yes, it’s THAT sort of game, and owes plenty to the likes of Portal, though obviously is a lot simpler and shorter. So much more could have been done after completion, like time trials for example, but the developers show a real lack of ambition which is a shame after the effort that has gone into the game.
Smile for the Camera
Games like this can live or die by their controls, and it doesn’t take long to realise that Orbibot is hovering on life support for much of the time. The controls are very twitchy and the ball is best controlled very slowly as it’s easy to send it hurtling to the depths. Each time this happens you are reborn at the beginning or at a checkpoint (which are not always well placed) luckily with any progress you have made untouched. I had to reset a level a few times, having totally messed things up, but in general it’s not a problem.
Once you get used to the controls (which can be adjusted but it’s never ‘just right’) progress is fun to make, but your biggest enemy is often the camera. Whilst you can rotate the camera with the right stick (controlling the ball with the left) it also has a life of its own and will mess you about like a hyperactive Rottweiler. Basically, you can control the camera, which is great, but the camera also controls itself, which is not. Worst case is when it rotates itself to an overhead view, as for some reason only known to Satan and his many imps, you cannot move the ball when the view is directly overhead. The whole thing screams of a lack of testing and results in more than a few howls of anguish.
R2D2 It Is You!
Graphically, Orbibot is very clear, with a shiny futuristic vibe backed up by a minimal soundtrack. Your ball will make beeps and boops when colliding with things, and blocks and the like have their own effects when bashed into. Whilst it’s nothing to write home about, there’s really nothing more needed, except maybe a voice-over telling you what the heck you’re supposed to be doing at the start.
Despite the dodgy camera and finnicky controls, Orbibot is such a well put together puzzler with a well tuned difficulty that I found myself wanting to come back and complete the fifteen levels. Whilst I’ve seen other people commenting that it takes a couple of hours, for me it was more like four or five, as I’m not the best at this sort of thing. That I was compelled to persevere, and not just because I was writing a review, says a lot for the game. At £4.99 some may find it a bit pricey for what’s on offer, but it’s definitely one to keep an eye on.
Rapid Reviews Rating
3 out of 5
You can buy Orbibot in the Nintendo eShop here.
You can find and read our reviews on OpenCritic.