New Orbit by Blackish (universal) is a bleak postapocalyptic tale of Earth’s remaining survivors in space – and more importantly, is a fantastic space exploration title. Utilizing an intuitive control scheme and boasting some impressive voice work, New Orbit feels like a mix of Asteriods gameplay and early Ridley Scott films. Unfortunately, the first episode of the new franchise ends rather quickly, and will leave players begging for more.
When Earth ends, the surviving humans spread out around the asteroid belt. Time passes, and man’s natural inclination to control and fight takes over, causing intergalactic unrest. We meet our protagonist lost in enemy territory, where he finds what’s left of his crew in his busted-down ship, with only his creepy computer to keep him company.
New Orbit’s prologue transitions to a training level, where the minimalistic graphics and atmosphere begin to take over the senses. Controlling the ship is a breeze, though grasping the concept of deceleration and changing directions with the one-touch controls may create quite a learning curve for some players. Trying to orbit an asteroid or avoid a trap might be a frustrating affair early, although most of the challenge to New Orbit is due to the challenging, ingeniously designed gravitational physics system.
The challenges in New Orbit are pretty varied, but by the time players grasp the controls and become immersed in the wonderfully developed atmosphere, the experience ends. The game would certainly benefit from adding a free roam or time attack mode, to bode players over until the as-yet unannounced second episode is released.
In the end, it’s the little touches of character and story which make New Orbit such a worthy experience. The voice acting is particularly impressive, and even with a small cast and minimal lines, sounds more authentic than many of the AAA titles in the App Store. Those looking for a great space adventure won’t be disappointed, and those looking for a game with story and character, might even be surprised.