Alan Zucconi posits that gravity “is the strongest enemy in the Universe” with 0RBITALIS. But it’s a friend as much as it’s a foe.
You click to launch a probe into orbit around stars and asteroids, trying to help steer it by leaning your body or head as you watch it spin in slow arcs. But it’s no use, once you’ve picked the direction and thrust of the trajectory, that’s it; you have to let it go.
Eventually, or sooner than you’d hope, your satellite will crash into a solid piece of floating geometry, or go beyond the framing of the screen. It’s over. Your time is slapped into the online leaderboards, and usually for shame, as your pithy 15 seconds measures in as “pathetic at best” when compared to the boastful five minutes of the top score. One person has even managed to keep the probe orbiting for 40 minutes in one level, apparently—maybe it’s a hack.
It’s a game in which you do all of the hard work in the pre-action phase. To the casual observer, all you’re doing is moving your mouse around, and issuing a single click when ready to launch your probe. But in your head, there are angles, numbers, and guesstimates whirring around. None of it’s truly accurate, though. There are no actual figures to base your estimates (read: hopes) on, so you’ll probably only be at a slight advantage if you’re a qualified rocket scientist.
In truth, 0RBITALIS is no more complex than Angry Birds Space, or lining up a tricky shot in snooker. But its abstract space theme—realized with deep blacks, reds, and a radar-like HUD—gives it an aura of importance.
But it’s much more elegant than the pig-destroying trials of Angry Birds. 0RBITALIS tasks you with making a single, beautiful orbit made of several spirals across space that you’ll watch, tensely, for seconds or maybe minutes. You use gravity fields to float and fly through the cosmos. Then you smash into an asteroid.
0RBITALIS reminds us that our lives hang in the balance provided by forces greater than us. As you struggle to find a resolute orbit around a star you realize just how lucky we are that Earth orbits as perfectly as it does around the sun.