Typical strategy games are a dime a dozen. Whether they’re your top down RTS like StarCraft or a turn based JRPG like Final Fantasy Tactics, it feels like we’ve seen and experienced every take on one of the most tired genres in gaming. In order to create something with spark, you’d have to come up with some pretty out-of-the-box ideas and make sure they were good ones. Team Jolly Roger seems to have done just that with its chaotic, inter-galactic, RTS Worbital.
I’m not really sure how to explain Worbital easily because it isn’t a simple game. To begin, you can choose from three playable ‘factions’, if you will, once you complete the tutorial. Each gives a descriptor of the type of action you’ll see, but I opted to start with what seemed like the ‘true narrative’ option. In other words, I continued from the tutorial along the character arc of Rem Amashyo. Essentially, your world is overpopulated and quickly running out of resources. At a loss for what to do, Rem makes the humorous executive decision to raid and populate other planets…
… Through warfare.
Thus begins Worbital, a game where you control entire planets with the technology to build weapons that can completely destroy opposing planets from across the galaxy – or, at the least, in your solar system. Worbital starts off slowly, easing you into its gameplay – one that involves a sort of physics based of firing of cannons – before catapulting you into the middle of chaotic warfare. In Worbital, you can outfit your planets with various weaponry likes solar lasers, cannons, and more to blast away at other planets. By doing so, you’ll be privy to snagging some resources and allowing your people to expand and explore the universe.
So gameplay in Worbital is an RTS technically speaking, but its chaotic overtones and scientific-ish based combat set it apart from its genre brethren. It’s this chaos, however, that keeps the game fresh and interesting, and the included multiplayer aspect, where you can battle up to three of your other friends, keeps the ballistics firing at unpredictable times and angles. In other words, like the best RTS games available, Worbital will almost never grow old, especially in multiplayer (and you can check out its Discord in order to find partners for dueling).
Visually, Worbital is a mix between Saturday morning cartoon visuals for characters and colorful side-scrolling (kind of) graphics for gameplay. You’re basically controlling planets on a solar system map where characters speak to each other like a JRPG (the characters appear on screen and hold dialogue in a box in the center). The art style of the characters typically isn’t for me – and I can’t say it’s my favorite still – but it definitely didn’t detract from this game.
In the haze of combat, particularly in multiplayer, any gripes you have about aesthetics disappear. You don’t have time to consider that Sane looks silly; no, you need to be planning your projectiles course and revolution around the sun. Mechanics evolve from simple build and shoot gameplay to advanced warfare that includes upgrades, reparations, and other options to further your strategic planning.
The greatest part of Worbital is that you’re able to play for hours on end, especially if choosing multiplayer, for the price of $19.99. The amount of time I put into Worbital during this review alone tops the amount of time I’ve put into completing $60 triple A games, and I had more fun here than many others I’ve recently played. You’re getting a fully realized crazy RTS game featuring unique mechanics with a fully functioning multiplayer and a Discord community to keep that multiplayer alive for a third of the price of a “full priced” game. It’s not perfect, of course, and the aesthetics aren’t my favorite, but games are about gameplay, and this one obliterates it. In a good way.