Orb Labs, Inc Review (HTC Vive)
For the purposes of transparency, this review was created using a code provided by the company or their respective PR company. The use of a review code does not affect my judgement of the game.
Orb Labs, Inc brings a new puzzle game to the VR platform, but does it do anything to stand out from the others that have been released in this popular VR genre?
In Orb Labs, Inc as the game’s protagonist you are placed into a secret underground bunker, that is owned by a company the shares the name with the games title. In this bunker the company are carrying out some secretive research, that they have protected with laser emitters, that are not good for your well-being. But, guess what?… it’s your job to make it through the bunker and unearth all the research.
Don’t worry though Orb Labs Inc have rather kindly left some of their products from this research, which will ultimately become the tools of their own destruction. This comes in the form of Orbs, and this is where the gameplay comes in.
What you are essentially getting with Orb Labs, Inc is a puzzle game, which is going to take some thinking and strategy in order to progress through the game. All this is done by using the orbs you have at your disposal, with each one having it’s own ability to help you get around the aforementioned lasers. It is then your job to pick and decide which is the best way to use them in order to move on through the facility. Now, the way you have the approach them is not only down to you picking the correct Orbs, you also have to have the Orbs in your inventory – you are not given infinite amounts, you must collect them as you move around this complex. Although the teleport Orbs can be picked back up after you have thrown them, but you still need to make sure you have a collection of these, because you might not have the time to collect it.
At first it is going to take some time for you to get used to throwing the Orbs, and understand the best way to throw them to get the correct distance. However, once you have mastered this it is not all plain sailing because the game does have some massive difficulty spikes, even early into the game. So, as you start to feel you are progressing well, you will soon come to a puzzle that will take a number of deaths and restarts to get through it. Where it can be good to get some slow down in the progression of a game, as it shows it is getting harder to solve the puzzle to move on, it can also be a hindrance to the experience. Unfortunately, Orb Labs Inc, falls into the later for me, because of how steep of jump it is it can soon become a little frustrating.
When it comes to the underground bunker, the team have done a great job on the visuals, which will keep you immersed and feel like you are in the complex. This is down to everything being well polished and use of the shade and lighting, it is all finished off to a professional level. With the only time I lost some the immersion in the game was a when there was some slight slow down in places. Where the visual presentation has been done well, the sound is a little underwhelming, which is a shame. The main use of the sound comes in the use of music loops that don’t really suit the environment that they have placed you into and the action of the game. Also in some cases these music loops just seem to suddenly come a halt and stop playing, only to randomly start again at some other point in the game.
This has to be played using Room Scale, as you are going to have to carry out actions like ducking , if your cover from the laser does not offer your full body protection – meaning of course this also has to be played standing. The game uses your tracked motion controllers as you would expect, by having each controller being the corresponding hand within the game. As I have previously mentioned one of the Orbs is used for teleportation, so this is how the movement systems works in the game, these is no free locomotion mode. But, given the idea of the gameplay I found the Orb technique was the correct way to go about the movement.
The game takes around four to five hours to complete, mainly being down to when you hit those difficulty spikes. For me this completion time was just about correct to make sure you kept your interest in the title, any longer and could have started to become a little stale.
Orb Labs, Inc comes from a small indie team at Next Friday Interactive, and they have created a very solid puzzle game. Which brings with it some great gameplay (once you get used to it) and world you will become immersed in. Although it does come with some slight issues like judders and it’s use of the sound, but these could easily be resolved by some patches. But, despite the few little issues it is worth checking out, especially for £6.19 price point.
Also available on Oculus Rift
Developer: Next Friday Interactive