If you’ve ever fantasized about piloting your own Death Star then playing the Steam PC real-time strategy game Worbital by Finland’s Team Jolly Roger would be a step in the right direction. This is our review of Worbital for Steam PC.
Worbital is best described as a real-time, physics-based strategy game where you essentially pilot your own planet and go to war against other planets. During the course of a game or campaign, you and your opponents (whether computer AI or real-life) are orbiting around a sun and taking pot shots at each other. In real time you’re building railguns, shield defences, lasers, homing missiles, colonizers (to forage rogue planets) and all kinds of good space warfare stuff.
Worbital offers several gameplay modes. The game supports single-player, online multiplayer (versus), local multiplayer (versus), online co-op and local co-op, yikes! To be blunt there were more gameplay options here then we were able to get to during our review playthrough.
Playing the campaign (story mode) acts as a tutorial with varied missions that also introduces you to the game’s mechanics. The story is delivered with a cartoony perspective and the dialogue is quite cheesy coming across like the old Roger Wilco / Space Quest games. Luckily the game offers a “skip dialogue” button for those ofttimes you need to replay a mission.
Typical missions and one-on-ones take longer than you’d expect as you need to build your munitions, then wait for ammunition and in some cases, e.g. use of straight-line lasers, you’ll need to wait until your rotation matches up with your opponent’s planet to fire. Eventually, during the course of a campaign, you’ll level up your building tiers allowing you to build more powerful firepower like (manually controlled) homing missiles.
One of the Worbital‘s greatest strengths is the game’s use of life-like rotational physics when firing missiles and other flying objects. The amount of mathematical coding the developers must have endured to get the pathing to be as real as it appears has to be “astronomical”. These same physics make certain you can’t accidentally fire around a rogue planet between you and your opponent. Because of this, timed hits have to be a coordinated strike, a combination of what sector a gun is located in on your planet, your planet’s rotation and your opponent’s rotation. On top of that, you might have shields on the opponent’s planet you’ll need to navigate around if you want to fire directly towards their core.
These same physics also require you as the commander to exercise patience when building, loading and firing. Several times you’ll clench your teeth as any hits you take from opponents feels quite painful, especially given the bombastic audio sounds. Perseverance prevails in sticking to the end mission and monitoring your planet’s status and careful planning, all sometimes while under the pressure of the sun blowing up, etc.
Controls, for the most part, work well with a mouse and keyboard. The control of the manually controlled homing missiles was not completely obvious and required some trial and error. What seemed to be missing was a mouse cursor based screen scroll which is popular in other RTS games, but scrolling is supported via WASD. You can zoom in and out but in some cases, my opponent’s planet ended up off-screen. There is an on-screen button to recenter your view on your planet but in some cases that didn’t help. That being said it is quite fun to line up the green snakey targeting “thing” to pick a point on your opponent’s planet.