Harrison is a lowly maintenance astronaut working on a relay in outer space. When suddenly, something hits spaceship. He survives the impact, but his ship and the device he was working at are totally destroyed cutting his connection with the rest of the universe and leaving him adrift and completely alone. Well, not exactly alone: with his companion, the talkative and sentient drone Atley, Harrison will cross the galaxy back to the ones he loves. And this is your mission in LOST ORBIT: Terminal Velocity, the new game from the Canadian Studio PixelNAUTS: take him home life and safe!
If the name of the studio doesn’t ring a bell to you, let me lend you a hand: PixelNAUTS is the studio responsible for the platform adventure Contrast, published a few years ago for the last generation. If you remember that title, you’re well aware of the quality of their work. Now, if you have never played it, let me give you a spoiler here: they rock artistically and originality speaking. But let’s save our compliments for later because there’s a lot of things to talk about in this review. Shall we?
- Gameplay: Let’s start talking about the gameplay so you can better understand the nature of the game. In Lost Orbit, your character, Harrison, is jet-thrusting himself like Ironman across space while avoiding obstacles and perils. As you collect crystals, you can upgrade your suit and unlock new abilities like a dodge roll, a bomb (very useful to clean your path when in danger) or the boost. Your boost is of ultimate importance to be able to reach the end of the level in time for a golden or platinum score and, with it, put your name in the global leaderboards. Use your boost, the orbit of planets, jump and portals to reach the end of the level as fast as possible.
- Maneuvering: Maneuvering Harrison in space feels just great! The controls are precise and answer really well. Even while in higher speeds, when avoiding asteroids and obstacles becomes too difficult. But things get more and more complicated in later levels when the number of obstacles becomes insane as the screen scrolls down and it becomes almost impossible to dodge everything the level throws at you. You will die. A lot. But don’t worry about that because dying and retrying is (a constant) part of this game.
- Visuals: The visuals of Lost Orbit shall be analyzed from two different perspectives: first, the character and elements of the scenario you can interact (or, better saying, smash your character against, forming a bloody pool). The second perspective is totally dedicated to commending the amazing scenarios in the background. Even though you can barely pay attention to them (you are paying attention to the level obstacles, aren’t you?), the developers were smart to add some levels obstacle-free for you to admire the vastness of the universe they created. And I’m compelled to say this is one of the most beautiful I’ve ever had the pleasure to play into. Well done, boys!
- Audio: Like the visuals, the audio also stands out in this game. More specifically the music. The developers managed to transmit a series of feelings through them, from sadness and solitude to a certain level of urgency and despair. And I cannot forget about Atley, your faithful companion. He plays the role of a narrator in the first part of the adventure (more about that later), always by your side telling us about Harrison’s mood (and mourning or making fun of us when we die). The only sign of story we have in the game (again, only in the first part) is thanks to it and the voice actor who played this role did a great job!
- Cruel humor: Aside Atley making comic commentaries about your deaths, the developers added strange but funny death animations to Harrison, like your skeleton being expelled out of your space suit or a ghost coming out from your dead body. A successful attempt to play with your constant deaths, if you ask me.
- Game modes: The game has three game modes for you to venture: campaign, challenge and time attack. Except for the campaign mode, that obviously has something in it, challenge and time attack modes feel exactly the same. And worse: repetitive. It feels they tried to add some more content to extend the life of the game, but the game would be perfect with only the campaign. And it takes me to the next bullet point…
- The epilog: After completing the campaign, you gain access to the epilogue of the story. It’s nothing more than an extra set of levels that smells like a DLC. Thankfully, they didn’t sell it separately, but included it in the full game. ‘But what’s wrong with it?’, you ask me? Well, first of all, now Harrison speaks! And there are other characters he will interact with, like if the first part of the adventure was just a prequel to this epilogue. ‘This is no big deal’, you may think. And yes, you’re right. But this change in the story totally changed the immersive tale about loneliness, wonder and death the first part of the adventure was built on. Even though the new abilities and gameplay sections add great value to the gameplay, it still feels… weird.
- Restarting the level: Remember when we mentioned above that dying is a constant part of the game? Well, it is. The checkpoints are perfect for a quick restart every time you hit a rock or a trap with your astronaut. But if you are aiming to achieve the platinum rank in each one of the levels… boy…the loading time to restart the level will be a real pain…
LOST ORBIT: Terminal Velocity combines challenging gameplay, beautiful art and music with a tale about tragedy, loneliness and hope. An inspiring story that lost its meaningfulness in an attempt to extend the lifespan of the game. But it doesn’t harm the overall quality of the gameplay and amount of fun you are going to have while playing it. Now put on your space suit and prepare to explore the galaxy!
Developer: PixelNAUTS Publisher: PixelNAUTS
Played on: Xbox One X Also available on: PC, PS4, Switch
Time to beat: Between 6 and 8 hours
Achievement difficulty for 1000 Gamerscore: Tough… really tough. Achieving Platinum in each level will take you some time… and patience.
Perfect for: Those who have persistence and enjoy a pleasing to the eye adventure.
Xbox Game Store link: Click here
With a history of gaming that goes from his old man’s Atari 2600 to his Xbox One, Rafael or RAF687, our Brazilian editor, has a love for games as old as he can remember. He has already spent countless hours in many consoles (Mega Drive/Genesis, Sega Saturn, PS1, PS2 and Xbox 360) and is always ready for more (as long as his wife is asleep). Raf has been writing for LifeisXbox since 2017, with a passion for games of almost all genres – though we know he has a special place in his heart for RPGs, racing games and anything that includes pixel art. Writing about games has always been a childhood dream to Raf, dream that he has fulfilled reviewing games for you here. You can drop him a message at Twitter, Facebook or Xbox Live at any time.