Orbitect is a roguelite space construction game developed by Propulsion Games. Initially released on Early Access on the 5th of August 2020, it has now gotten to its full release over three years later. In this game, space is full of scrap and opportunity! As an Orbitect, you are tasked with cleaning up all the junk orbiting around planets by building a space station that can withstand 100 waves of debris. So let’s see if Orbitect isn’t virtual junk itself.
Now, the first thing that struck me off guard right from the main menu was voice acting. I didn’t expect the game to have any, but having someone talk to you throughout the tutorial and campaign was actually appreciated and added some lore to the world (er, space). It has some pretty funny lines as well. Unfortunately, since this is a roguelite and you are expected to lose multiple times, the narrator gets annoying pretty quickly. The dialogue doesn't change at all between runs, so eventually you memorise all his cracks and jokes. I also started to get really irritated when he breaks the fourth wall. Kinda funny the first time, but it really starts to sound that he doesn’t care after the fifth time. I recommend lowering the voice volume all the way down.
Once you’ve done that, let’s get into the meat of the gameplay: building your junk-destroying space station. You start off with a core block which, if destroyed, means game over so it’s important to get that thing as guarded as possible using a combination of blocks, panels, and mods with resource drones to keep it running. The panels you begin with are pretty basic, with lasers, batteries, and armour plating, but if you collect Cadmus Diamonds, you'll get access to more panels and stat buffs to help you survive the debris. You can also upgrade all your panels with Resource Units up to Level 5, making them more durable and powerful. However, they all need power to run and you can’t just put stuff anywhere, they all need to be connected. And that’s everything you can actually do in Orbitect; everything else relies on auto-targeting and your design. However, you can’t just sit back and watch. There is so much debris that will destroy your core block you’re constantly managing your resources so you can upgrade and repair your station just so it will make it through the many waves and boss fights you have to deal with. It can get quite frantic as you desperately build more stuff to ensure you last that little bit longer. However, once you do get to a boss fight, there isn’t much you can do other than wait and hope your build can last against it, especially when you’re out of resources.
Once your run ends, you earn wave points which are needed to unlock boosts to make your next run a little easier or a lot harder depending on what you choose. You can make your stuff cost less, upgrade your base stats, unlock additional spaces for panels and mods, or make every block only have 1 HP. There are noticeable differences with each upgrade and you can reset your upgrades at any time for free, which is nice. However, there isn’t anything that would completely change how you play, apart from those hard mode upgrades, you just last longer and do better. It doesn’t make you think about your build or strategy going in, it just makes sure you beat the game eventually.
Now, the game runs completely fine. There weren't any FPS drops even when my screen was filled with junk, although I did notice that there weren't a lot of graphic settings to play around with. My real complaints lie in the game design. Since you don’t have any control over anything other than how you build, you’re relying on your weapons and drones to do everything else, and since they only really target the closest thing instead of, maybe, the explosive rocket coming at it, that can be a little aggravating. Also some runs can just end out of nowhere, completely out of your control. For example, there was a playthrough that was going really well, where I had a good build going and enough money to make repairs when needed, when a giant piece of debris suddenly cut through all my blocks like butter, destroying the core block without warning. Speaking of warnings, I think there are too many. Whenever something is damaged in any way, it flashes red. Whenever something is about to be destroyed, there will be the text “Low HP” pulsing right next to it. Every single panel, every single block, will have these warnings. And given the sheer amount of things you can and need to build, it can actually draw your attention away from things that are more important to maintain.
Overall, I found Orbitect to be fine for what it is. It is decently fun, but there are just various annoyances that didn’t exactly make me enthused to play more. The narrator, while a nice novelty at first, really begins to get on your nerves after several runs. Finally, losing to things outside of your control is less than ideal. At the very least, a successful run only lasts about an hour, so it can be a time waster if you want something a little less active to play. It’s not a bad game, but it’s not something I actively want to play another run of.
Orbitect is out now on Steam.
Orbitect (Reviewed on Windows)
Game is enjoyable, outweighing the issues there may be.
Orbitect is a decently fun roguelite that you can lose some time in, but there are a few annoyances and less-than-great game design decisions that don’t make me want to play more than necessary.