Some games would do better on Mobile than PC. That doesn't mean that the game is bad on PC or even that it is a bad game, I simply would rather play the game on a tablet or a phone than with a mouse and keyboard. 0rbitalis, developed by Alan Zucconi, is one of those games.
0rbitalis is a 2d puzzle game where the player launches satellites in an attempt to try to achieve some sort of goal. The goal is usually to have a continuous orbit without hitting anything or going too far off the screen for "x" amount of time. This is done by using the gravity of other objects in the level to create orbits. This is not as easy as it sounds.[caption id="attachment_53858" align="aligncenter" width="660"] Pictured: Four orbits that launch at the same time. If any of them crash, you fail.[/caption]
0rbitalis has a minimalist aesthetic, using basic shapes, such as triangles and squares to represent planets, suns, and other satellites. What prevents the aesthetic from becoming boring is how colorful it is. The objects all radiate a primary color that all have an effect on game play. The more visible the color, the more of that color's effect will affect the player's satellite as it passes through. The colors do a good job of representing what is happening without being too chaotic in the late game.[caption id="attachment_54460" align="alignnone" width="660"] With the exception of wormholes, which look like 90's techno album covers[/caption]
To make gameplay more interesting, there are a variety of objects that all have a different gravitational effects on the player's satellite. An object with no colors surrounding it will have a normal gravitational pull, an object surrounded by red will have a heavy pull, and an object with blue will have heavy anti-gravity. The closer a satellite gets to an object, the more powerful the force becomes, making slingshoting around objects fairly easy. Along with these different objects, there are targets that the player must hit in certain levels to continue and fields the satellite must orbit around for "x" amount of time.
0rbitalis's controls are incredibly simple: Aim with the mouse and fire—the game does the rest. The player controls the launch speed and the direction of the satellite and hopes that it launched correctly. The trajectory of the satellite is shown before firing and the satellite's flight path is shown during its entire flight. There is a line trailing and a dotted line that predicts where the satellite is going to go. If the flight path is going to collide with an object, a red dot will appear where the collision is going to occur.[caption id="attachment_54462" align="alignnone" width="660"] Sometimes the orbit looks silly[/caption]
The simplicity and hands off nature of 0rbitalis's gameplay would make it a perfect game for mobile devices. The controls combined with the simplistic aesthetic would make the game much easier to make for mobile than most. The entire time playing 0rbitalis, I pictured myself playing it on a bus or while waiting in line for something. The entire reviewing process went like this: Start playing, get bored after about ten or twenty minutes, start playing something else, suddenly want to play it some more, open it back up after about a half hour or so.
0rbitalis is a game that is meant to be played in spurts. It won't hook the player for too long, but it will make them want to come back. The game is hands off with the player setting the events in motion and watching them play out. The simplistic nature and short levels mean that players can play for a few levels, log off for a bit, and come back when they inevitably want to. After completing all of the main levels in about two hours, I think I'll come back to 0rbitalis in the future when I want to turn my brain off and just play something for a while.
0rbitalis was reviewed for PC with a free copy from Alan Zucconi.