Windy Hill’s platformer “Orphan” is developed by one man and supported by over a thousand kickstarters, “Orphan” is a passion project which shows in its ongoing developer support and original art style.
Well, I think you get the idea. So let’s move on to the actual game shall we? As I was saying, while the heavy silhouettes may remind you of “Limbo“, Orphan’s gameplay and story resemble classic cinematic platformers such as “Another World” and “Abe’s Odyssey” with some elements reminding me of “Prey” (2006) and “System Shock”.
The game begins with the boy being orphaned after an alien invasion destroys his home and parents, and the only thing you got left is a burned photo of your mom and dad, a small canteen of water and a tent.
Even so, the boy sets out on a quest to stop the alien invasion against all odds (“Mission impossible” JR. anyone?). So, what awaits the boy (the player) then?
Well, everything from lifeless farms, flooded swamps, dense forests to claustrophobic caves (caves which are waiting to be explored and liberated from lethal aliens).
As soon as I started “Orphan”, I was hooked by its immersive atmosphere. So by combining impressively natural animations and professionally taken and edited photographs, the world feels very real despite being 2D.
The boy’s strengths and weaknesses contribute to the game’s realism – instead of being placed in the large combat boots of a grizzled action hero who shoots their way through enemies, Windy Hill puts players into the small shoes of an alone and orphaned boy who must hide.
However, since the boy has a seriously low amount of health and is outnumbered and outgunned, Orphan initially plays as a tense stealth platformer. I mean, sure, enemies can be outrunned but their fast firing projectiles are harder to avoid.
Fortunately enough for you and me though, the boy can pitch a campsite in any safe, level location which saves the game. Keep this in mind though, there are no checkpoints in Orphan (that’s also why I saved as often as I could while playing through the game).
Around halfway into “Orphan”, the boy starts fighting back with alien weapons. Each weapon is designed and paced out in such a way that as the player becomes more powerful, the alien threat becomes more dangerous. I found that dealing damage is less important than avoiding it, as health can be difficult to come by.
And when you aren’t destroying aliens, “Orphan” slows down forcing players to solve puzzles that often require exploring the environment to find the solution. That can mean mentally mapping out a cave system or clearing suffocating gas from a mineshaft.
So after a tense boss battle, these quiet moments allow for the tension to lower before ramping up again.
Unfortunately, my first playthrough of Orphan was affected by a few bugs. One bug allowed me to access the most powerful alien weapons right away, which later prevented me from finishing the game. Another reduced the effectiveness of one of the alien weapons to the point where it could not be used.
Fortunately enough though, developer Brandon Goins is very responsive to player feedback and bug reports and was a great help in correcting any problems I came across.
Other than that, an in-game developer menu (accessed through TAB+D) also proved useful in resetting bugged out areas. Given the ongoing development status of “Orphan”, I am hopeful that the game will become more stable.
So despite a few gripes, I really enjoyed my time playing “Orphan”. While paying homage to the games that inspired it, the game stands out as its own experience and I look forward to seeing it and its developer progress.
+ Unique and interesting visuals
+ Expertly done sound design
+ Almost perfect pacing
+ Limbo + Another World” + Abe’s Odyssey + System Shock + Prey = True!
– Stability issues (the developer is fortunately very responsive)
– At times awkward climbing controls
– Chromatic aberration effect can cause headaches (this can be disabled!)
– The GAme is rather short
Sound and Music: 4/5
Replay value: 2/5
With a little more time and polish, “Orphan” is a game I can easily recommend to most people. However, its short length and stability issues may put off some players but the immersive sci-fi experience is well worth it.
Developer: Windy Hill
Resolution: 1920 x 1080
Release date: 2018-10-31
Spent Time: +9 hours
Average grade internationally: TBD
ESRB age rating: +12
11.39 £ via Steam
Robin Ek – Editor
The Gaming Ground
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