For a game with such simple mechanics, Lost Orbit: Terminal Velocity takes you through some genuinely emotional places.
You play as an engineer who fixes craft in the further reaches of outer space. The game opens with the tragic story of how you are stranded and abandoned when your vessel breaks down and your employer does not consider you worth rescuing. Your mission is to make your way through space, using only the thrusters on your back, to get home.
You hear the story through a narrator who has found and observed you as you make your way home. The way he describes you, in cutscenes between each level, is very moving. He is inspired by how determined you are to make it home, to embrace life at a time when it seems you are doomed to death.
The gameplay is simple. You direct your plucky little space man left and right and press the A button for a speed boost. You have to avoid rocks and debris and collect the imaginatively named ‘obtanium’ to use as fuel and exchange for power-ups and extra skills. Along the way, you’ll come across small planets that you can orbit briefly to refuel. Sometimes they’ll have crystals you can pick up. You have to be careful not to charge at them too quickly or you’ll splat against them a surprisingly gory death.
The movement through space feels almost like you’re swimming. It’s definitely an interesting take on the way that you control characters in a space without gravity.
If you drift off one side of the screen you reappear on the other, adding an extra layer of skill to the game. Long strings of rocks will cross your path at an angle, forcing you to make use of this quirk of physics in such a way that you don’t crash into them on either side. This can be a little disorienting as the rocks don’t reappear on the other side of the screen the way that you do. But it’ll make you think carefully.
At the end of each level, you are scored on your time, the amount of obtanium you collected, as well asthe number of times you died. You can replay levels to beat your score or you can carry on through the story mode, being told your own adventure by someone who sounds genuinely inspired by it.
Lost Orbit: Terminal Velocity is simple but you get really drawn into it. The gameplay is surprisingly addictive, especially if you’re the kind of gamer that likes challenging yourself to beat your own score.
The art style is cute and it’s easy to side with the adorable little astronaut who just wants to find a way across the vast expanse of space to get home. Despite not being a terribly complex game in terms of gameplay or plot, it is wholesome and it has a lot of heart.
Review: Lost Orbit: Terminal Velocity (Nintendo Switch)
Lost Orbit: Terminal Velocity is pretty to look at and easy to pick up. It gives you everything you need to challenge yourself and a story that is genuinely moving.