Orborun – What We Think:
Orborun from Tiny Lab Productions, is a 3D endless runner that makes a couple of interesting design decisions; It’s not typical that an endless runner has exploration or even puzzle elements.
You play as a humanoid robot that morphs into a ball. The robot moves forward constantly and you are able to move left and right to avoid anything in your way. Your main objective is to get to the exit without dying. Along the way you can pickup things throughout the level that increase your score. After finishing a level you are given a ranking based on how fast it was completed and on how many items you picked up.
Engage Charm Subroutine
There is no narrative in the game, which is a shame because the robot that you control has a lot of personality. Every time you finish a level, the robot will flex his thin metal arm as you are given your score. These small details not only bring life into the character, but they also give the game some charm. Animation flourishes like these could be expanded upon to push the game’s brand further.
Orborun offers many different types of levels, each of which is color-coded for its characteristics. Blue colored levels are the most linear and you traverse mostly narrow paths. Green levels are more hazardous and expansive, usually requiring you to take advantage of momentum and timing. Orange levels are more Puzzle-based, requiring you to use logic over reflexes in contrast to the other two level genres.
Frequent Stage Upgrades
As you progress, levels naturally become increasingly difficult. I was surprised how unfamiliar each of the levels felt; usually with these types of games, levels just start to feel repetitive, but Tiny Lab Productions does a fantastic job of making levels not only feel novel as you progress, but also entertaining to play through.
Levels will have floor switches that open doors, checkpoints, teleporters that take you to other areas of the level, jump pads, and boxes that give you an instant speed boost to help you clear gaps. These items are mixed and matched in enough configurations to keep you curious.
I like the fact that the game has non-linear levels too; these are a bit more difficult, given the fact that you have a wider area to navigate and it isn’t expressly clear which way you should go. One stage had many teleporters and required that I explore around in order to find the exit. Different teleporters lead to different areas of the level. Figuring out what teleporter to go through and in what order was a treat. It’s impressive to see exploration implemented into a game where your character is constantly moving forward.
Visually, the game won’t blow you away, but the environments are detailed enough that objects are clear. The framerate is smooth, which is very important for these types of games. Whisking through levels with the game’s electronic soundtrack provides a synergistic feeling of focus and alacrity. In spite of their logistic variety, the color-coded levels start to look the same visually, so the game would benefit from a more interesting art style to heighten its transportive aims, perhaps some interesting wallpaper or animatronic NPC’s as you whiz by…
I do have a couple of gripes with the game’s physics engine: Occasionally the game requires you to bump into a wall in order to change your direction. Most of the time when I ran into a wall, I’d die. The game’s engine feels like it wants to kill you when you bump straight into a wall at a certain speed, but sometimes levels demand the contact.
Another frustrating aspect of the game was gaining momentum; some levels seem impossible as they require you to be absolutely precise with how you need to turn. These issues don’t reveal themselves often, they just make some levels more cumbersome than likely intended.
Run, Bot, Run!
Orborun has a couple of issues – its physics engine feels like it needs some more polish, and its visuals could benefit from further inspiration. That being said, these issues will soon be forgotten once you start playing the game. It’s a fun endless runner thanks in large part to the game’s great level design and some additional mechanics not typical to the genre. If you’re looking for a good, creative, endless runner to play, I’d recommend giving Orborun a shot.
Get Orborun on Desura