“I told myself it was only a matter of time before he’d be dead, and I’d be on my way… If only it were that simple.”
In Lost Orbit: Terminal Velocity you play as Harrison, a stranded astronaut trying to find his way home with only a jetpack and a surly companion to aide him. Last week, PixelNauts Games launched their fast-paced, story driven, dodge ‘em up Lost Orbit on Xbox One and I’d like to share the tale of the strange mix of high-speed action and narrative driven storytelling that makes it a unique experience.
Dodge ‘Em Up
Lost Orbit is a different type of game, opting to convey a top-down, fast-paced arcade style experience. There are no guns to shoot; you control a tiny space engineer, moving left and right, boosting and screen wrapping in a mad scramble to make it to the end of a level in one piece. We started calling the game a Dodge ‘Em Up, since nothing else really described the experience. It’s like a high-speed racer with lots of blood and is probably like nothing you’ve played before.
Live Fast, Die Faster
It started out as a fast-paced arcade game and only got faster as time went on. We wanted to push the limits on speed and controls – it is meant to be played fast! The goal was to see players go fast, die, and repeat. Each level is crafted to be a short experience where players can learn the track and find the best way through, eventually conquering levels at break-neck speeds and feeling a sense of accomplishment in doing so.
Lost Orbit is set across five solar systems, with its campaign featuring over 50 levels. Each new system pits players against new obstacles, traps, and enemies but also gives new power-ups to learn and utilize. Players can grind on rails, boost through gas planets for extra speed or be bounced around the level like a pinball by pulsars. We always want to throw something new at the player to keep them on their toes!
An Extra Challenge
On top of the campaign, we wanted to give players some post-game content to enjoy. We crafted over 25 extremely deadly levels for the players looking to test their skills and stress levels. All levels also feature a global leaderboard system, allowing players to compete for times and take on the best of the best! For players who are looking for a personal challenge, each level ranks you on your speed, deaths and collectibles with the top rank being something that must truly be earned. Finally, Lost Orbit also features 33 achievements for 1,000 Gamerscore.
A Narrative Experience
One of the comments we receive the most about the game is how much focus there is on storytelling, especially for an arcade game. Lost Orbit is about facing a dangerous and unknown world head on. It’s about loneliness, friendship and death. Our hero Harrison doesn’t talk through the original campaign. Rather, the story is told through the point of view of an alien space probe that has malfunctioned and decided to tag along. The story is a fully narrated experience of what it’s like facing an almost certain death. We wanted players to have breaks away from the high-speed gameplay and take moments to experience something more than just survival. It’s an unusual combination of gameplay and story and not something people ever expect from the game but are always pleasantly surprised by.
An Indie Story
Made by a small team of developers in a town near Niagara Falls, Canada. Many of us came from a local AAA studio that shut down and instead of moving on, we stayed and took a chance on making something of our very own. Much like Harrison, we jumped out into the unknown and found our way here. Perhaps our journey was not as fast or dangerous, but we faced many hurdles and hardships. We found friends that guided us along the way and made the adventure something worthwhile and meaningful. The support of ID@Xbox was a huge part of why we could bring Lost Orbit to Xbox One! They gave us the chance to find a new audience and helped us find a new home.