• Roberto Nieves

Review: orbit.industries

Publisher: Klabater

Developer: LAB132

Available on: Steam, PlayStation 4/5, Xbox Series X/S, Nintendo Switch,

We could all use a little space these days. Earth is kind of crazy at the moment, but in video games, space is always crazy. Somewhere, there's a war that needs to be fought. In other places, a colony needs to be established, and in the case of games like Outriders, all sorts of things are going crazy wrong. Sometimes, you need to enjoy the stars, hang around for a bit, appreciate the beauty of the universe, and build a space station. orbit.industries is one such game, and it's quite the sight to behold, as well as a solid good time.

At some point, everyone wanted to be an astronaut, launching on a rocket to explore parts unknown. Then, reality sunk in, and learned that space is actually very hard. Mathematics, height, fitness, and an ability to stay calm when literally everything has gone very wrong, not to mention an expert-level understanding of avionics, spaceflight, and chemistry. Space is hard, but experiencing the closest thing to it is delightful. orbit.industries puts players into the deep future, where capitalism still exists, but at least it can now be used to create space stations that can peer into the darkest secrets of the universe. As the Commander, players operate their space station, building modules, accepting missions, taking contracts, and managing the station, all the while making sure the station turns a profit. Your astronauts need beds, food, and money, after all.

orbit.industries isn't so much about building a space station but enjoying the time with it. The first thing that hits players is the sheer wonderment of orbit. All around you is the infinite wisdom of outer space. The stars sparkle through the black gulfs and illuminate the landscape. Below is planet Earth, the world where you are from, and everything you have ever come to learn, know, and love came from there. A peaceful soundtrack further illuminates the incredible awe of outer space, and as your space station takes shape, there is a sort of pride in the pursuit of science, even if it is only a game.

What begins as a small outpost becomes almost like a glistening city in the heavens. Players rotate the station, adding various modules and attachments. Some modules are necessary to sustain life, like energy and life support, as well as habitats for human habitation. Others are far more sophisticated and necessary for completing contracts. Drone launchers, deep-space arrays, shuttle bays, and so much more can be installed. Along the way, a soothing-sounding AI helps guide players to their mission objectives and sends reminders on what to address on the station. Smaller details further highlight the excitement of building a city. It's a relaxing experience and profound as well. Simply no other game gives me those sensations at the moment. This is further heightened by the change of scenery for the game's three big missions, including one in deep space orbiting an unfamiliar world. I admit some to this is nostalgia. I was only ten years old when I saw the International Space Station being assembled at Kennedy Space Center in Florida, so seeing a game about space stations is a little special. However, orbit.industries does have more below the surface, and this may either be incredibly stressful or incredibly rewarding for players.

Space Stations need energy, and energy management is the key. Players are taken to a grid, an infinite space where every installment on the station is placed. For every one module created, a processor will appear on the grid. Connecting these processors is easy at first and orbit.industries does a fantastic job orienting players into managing these processes. However, as the station gets bigger, more of these processors will come in place, and for those that are admittedly unorganized, they may have a small bout of confusion as they manage literally several dozen systems. orbit.industries monitors efficiency. Higher efficiency means more resources created, and lower efficiency rates means not enough resources are made.

As mentioned before, there are financial elements to orbit.industries, which isn't terribly complicated but can be a challenge to maintain. There are the primary missions and then secondary contracts. The contracts are essential for making money and continuing the main missions. Each contract requires resources and modules to be built that can complement the main mission. This is doable but requires paying attention. In my early runs on one of the big campaign missions, I failed consistently as my finances ran dry and the station simply couldn't be financially supported. I learned that I went crazy building parts of the station that didn't even need to be built. I eventually learned to be careful with what I construct and use multiple save slots, which orbit.industries allows. As for the energy management, I eventually learned how to get around that as well, using the necessary systems as opposed to throwing everything at the wall and hoping it all stuck together. I will say that this area of orbit.industries could have been further streamlined for players, with perhaps a guided energy management system to help orient players into keeping their stations operational and successful. Fortunately, there is a creative mode where players can make the space stations of their dreams without worrying about budgets and profits. For players looking to depressurize, this is the best game mode featured in the game, as the scenery, music, and thrill of construction make for a cozy experience.

Still, despite the energy management conundrum, orbit.industries is one of the most pleasantly enjoyable games I have played this year. Games dealing with construction should be focused on the reward of production and finding solutions. orbit.industries provides that in the most refreshing way possible, being not necessarily about space flight but about building, living, and working in space. I encourage anyone interested in space or space video games not to overlook this one. It's a pleasant surprise and a pleasant journey.

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