Orbibot Review

I do enjoy a good ball-rolling physics puzzler. From the first time I played Marble Blast Ultra at the launch of the 360, I’ve been keen to seek out any and all new ones to see how they compare. There have been some good examples over the years for sure, but also some that miss the mark. Unfortunately, Orbibot falls in the latter category, though there is still something here to enjoy in small doses.

I was initially a little underwhelmed by the level select screen only showing around a dozen stages and expected to blitz through them quickly. Nearly an hour later though, and I’ve barely hit half way. It’s not even that it’s all that challengingly designed; more that the physics are keen to royally fuck with us at any given moment.

Moving the ball with the left stick and camera with the right, the premise is simple enough; move the ball from A to B along narrow paths, up spiral rails, and over various gaps. The levels are quite smartly designed to use a lot of elements, but at the same time this over-use of many obstacles can be cause for frustration. You see, it’s the core physics that make the challenge, rather than the levels design. And by challenge I mean randomly deciding to fling the ball across a level, or a small bump causing the ball to jump up and increase in speed rapidly, or one of the many, many damn winding rails that I slowly crawled up to the top of only to be flung off at the last second thanks to my ball grabbing a millimetre of air, thus losing all friction and catapulting into the sky.

It’s this sudden change in grip that all but ruins the experience of playing Orbibot. It means that even just going along a straight walkway is treacherous as the way they are designed mean they have little protruding elements to them which also cause the ball to lose friction when bumped over, and it’s easier said than done to avoid them. Which is a shame, as if it wasn’t for this aspect I think the puzzles and levels could be quite fun to play. Levels are quite long, and as mentioned make use of lots of elements in each. A lack of regular, or well placed, checkpoints doesn’t help matters although progression is at least saved in terms of puzzles solved, so there are a few instances where solving a puzzle then falling off to get to the last checkpoint is actually the easier solution. There are some clever uses of physics in some stages too, for example bouncing along a row of rocket boosters, but the inconsistent physics meant it was always more trepidatious to use these than needs be.

Conclusion

All in all, Orbibot is tough to recommend. For those willing to persevere the physics foibles, there’s a decent puzzle game here. But the issues are so frequent that unless you’re here for the very easy 1000g, then you’re probably best off looking elsewhere.

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This game was tested and reviewed on Xbox Series X/S. All of the opinions and insights here are subject to that version. Game provided by publisher.
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Good
  • Nice presentation
  • Some well design levels and ideas
Bad
  • The physics are too unpredictable and unstable to hold up a game based around them
  • Only around a dozen levels
4.8
Poor
Gameplay - 3
Graphics - 6
Audio - 5
Longevity - 5
Written by
I've been gaming since Spy vs Spy on the Master System, growing up as a Sega kid before realising the joy of multi-platform gaming. These days I can mostly be found on smaller indie titles, the occasional big RPG and doing poorly at Rainbow Six: Siege. Gamertag: Enaksan

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