Enter the Gungeon, Risk of Rain, Hades, Slay the Spire, and The Binding of Isaac are hands down are the best rogue-like games released in the past decade. Each of them has its charms that define them; but imagine this, you combine each of the game’s charms but add in a twist as well, then you have Orbital Bullet.
Orbital Bullet is the literal definition of “What goes around, comes around” and is a fast-paced 360° action-platformer with rogue-lite elements, where all actions take place in a circular pattern. Fight your way through a variety of procedural planets and use body modifications, crafting, and heavy weaponry. This game isn’t your ordinary run-of-the-mill rogue-like game due to the increased difficulty and complexity.
The game is packed with a lot of features and things to go over. First of all, let’s start with the basics of Orbital Bullet; you are given a random gun with the sole goal of making it as far as possible without dying. All enemies must be killed on each floor before advancing, with a quality of life feature that zooms you to the entrance of the next level at the press of a button. Throughout any levels, chests and events will appear randomly to net you more weapons, perks are easily findable on levels, represented by floating gray cubes, which grant permanent buffs for the current run – “hopefully” increasing the odds of survival and the length of the run.
Just like any other rogue-like game, Orbital Bullet features a progression that uses “nanobytes” that can be collected through enemies’ drops or from a pod with a blue triangle symbol on it (the progression system also serves as an offset to the high difficulty) to unlock permanent upgrades, and the game has a very big emphasis on the “Kill. Die. Modify.” motto which serves as the foundation for players to get upgrades to advance more into later levels that are filled with hard enemies. The upgrades can vary from max health, max shield to increased movement speed and much more!
While Orbital Bullet offers a lot of unlockables and freedom to the player, it also features very vaguely-defined classes that provide you with perks and upgrades to match your playstyle. The biggest takeaway for the class system is that there’s not a huge difference between the 4 of them since they are pretty much the same but provide bonuses for one of the 4 damage types: Bullet, Energy, Shell, and Explosive.
By now, you are probably wondering how can you apply the skills/perks you bought. Orbital Bullet not only has a progression system (mainly has passive skills) but it also has a level and skill system. At the start of any run, you start with 4 randomized skills with the option to expand the tree more by visiting some upgrade station before boss fights. Skills given to you are usually increased health, increased weapon damage, reduced recoil, etc.
The thing that puts Orbital Bullet in a higher place than other rogue-like is right in the name: “orbital” and 360°. It’s like a weird mixture of 2D and 3D that works surprisingly well. All of your runs are spent on a series of columns, swapping between them for new levels. Each column is divided into several floors that you’ll work your up each of them. For every floor, you play on a circular track around a column, which makes each floor a different combat experience each time. The “orbital” design of the levels also adds in a “chaos element”. Like most games, you are safe if the enemies don’t have their sight on you; however, most enemies’ attacks can travel across the whole level and between planes.
Just like anything in our lives; if there are ups, there’ll be lows. That goes for Orbital Bullet as well, while Orbital Bullet gets the fundamental right; the running, jumping, rolling, and shooting — feel satisfying. It’s not necessary to go as fast as possible (though there are benefits to doing so), but you’d wound up rushing anyway just because it’s inherently fun to, and offers a bunch of varieties for each to be different from each other. The biggest drawback here is the level design.
While the “orbital” design differs from most 2D-plane from other games and that it offers some “fresh air” into the level, this “fresh air” dies out fast due to it being set in a 360° structure. Most players love to have the freedom to travel in any direction which is where Risk of Rain 2 did extremely well and offers the player the maneuverability they need to dodge enemies’ attacks. Orbital Bullet instead does the opposite and constrain use in a circle which is not bad, but it’s really bad in later levels where there are way more enemies and their attacks and the effects of their abilities fill up your screen fast which makes it pretty hard to see so you have to either do it preemptively in hopes of not being swarmed by them.
All in all, I very much enjoy the 15 hours I’ve had in the game so far. I went into Orbital Bullet without zero expectations and was blown away by it. While it has some hiccups here and there, I believe it truly does belong at the top with the likes of Hades and Risk of Rain, with its great features, an abundance of unlockables, absurdity amount of replayability, and the 360° structure.
Score: 7 out of 10
Reviewed on PC