Lost Orbit, an indie arcade-style action game, was originally released in 2015 to Steam by its developer/publisher PixelNAUTS. Lost Orbit: Terminal Velocity is a rework/expansion on the original game. The rework boasts in-game cinematics and smoother play, plus a series of new levels which continue the protagonist’s story. Is this rework a star in the making, or will it crash into the dust-bin of obscurity? Find out below – this is our Lost Orbit: Terminal Velocity review!
Several things were obvious to me when I initially started the game. First was an annoying voiceover, which brought me up to speed on who the protagonist is and why we’re drifting through the back-end of space. Second were the appealing visuals, great polish, smooth optimization. I further noticed that Lost Orbit: Terminal Velocity’s music is on point. The score reflected both the sci-fi nature of the game as well as its pace. So, yes – the game is generally appealing to the senses.
The voiceover deserves special consideration. As I suggested earlier, I initially found the voice and writing unpleasant, with the exception of the very amusing (and in my case, frequent) comments on the protagonist’s deaths. Moreover, I felt obligated to listen to optional cut-scenes when I really just wanted to fly through asteroid fields. Nevertheless, either the voiceover and writing got better as the game progressed or they grew on me. Either way, I rather enjoyed both towards the end of the original content. I stress the original content because the expansion featured some design decisions that I think took away from the game.
The expansion really does feel like it had new and different hands working with it than those from the original game. New characters are introduced and – more importantly – the every-man protagonist is unmasked and he ain’t pretty. Portraits for characters revealed in the expansion are drawn in the style of caricatures, voice acting and writing for new characters is generally mediocre, and Atley, the robot companion that I grew to love, takes a back seat to the new content’s story.
If you own the original and are wondering if you should spring for this updated version, don’t fret – the developers have stated on the Lost Orbit: Terminal Velocity discussion page that owners of the original get this updated version for free. Which is fair, because I could not, in good conscience, recommend purchasing the game twice, despite the positives.
With regards to the gameplay, it is fun… eventually. The gameplay itself is simple. You move forward through space, moving left and right to dodge asteroids, space debris, lasers, and other, less savory things. Generously placed checkmarks allow for low frustration play when the going gets tough. Collecting an in-game currency is a significant part of the game, which allows you to upgrade your flight suit. I was disappointed at the dearth of upgrade options and general uselessness of the bomb-feature, but having upgrades was better than not having upgrades, in my opinion.
Each system has several levels, graded on the amount of time you took to complete the level, the percent of in-game currency you collected, and the number of deaths you accrued throughout the level. Completionists will note that you’ll have plenty of opportunities to work for perfect performance, which will no doubt provide for hours of entertainment. I am not a completionist, so Lost Orbit: Terminal Velocity’s content took me a little more than an hour and a half to reach the end of the last level.
The first two systems felt like a tutorial. I felt it was way too long before I enjoyed the fast-paced action that I was looking for in the game. Lost Orbit: Terminal Velocity features numerous terrain obstacle and features. Each feature often had one or more levels dedicated to it for an introduction, after which the features were periodically featured in future levels. Some features didn’t feel particularly important and were found rarely thereafter, leading one to wonder why they were included at all. Features found in the expansion would have enlivened the game significantly had they been introduced earlier in the game.
One fault that the game carries with it is how hard it tries to carry an emotionally involving story through arcade-style action. Indeed, Lost Orbit: Terminal Velocity’s story is far more involved than I would expect from a game of this variety to its detriment. I think the story artificially reduces and compacts the gameplay, as the number of levels and systems are tied to the story. I feel as if the game could feature twice the levels without a story and do very well just as an arcade space adventure. That said, what I played was enjoyable, despite the un-skippable score screen.
Lost Orbit: Terminal Velocity, a rework, and expansion of the original Lost Orbit game, is a short, but fun journey through space. The visuals and musical score are delightful, even if the voice acting and writing are hit-or-miss. Story heavy and content-lite, the game is a worth a try for those looking for a skill-based, sci-fi action-adventure, reminiscent of higher-end mobile games. Although not likely to be a long-remembered classic, Lost Orbit: Terminal Velocity is worth the time spent playing it.
COMPARE TO: Flappy Bird, Galak-Z