Title: Guardians of Orion [Early Access]
Developer: Trek Industries, Inc , Spiral Game Studios
Publisher: Trek Industries, Inc
Released For: Windows (PC)
DRM Versions Available
Released On: Dec 1, 2015
Guardians of Orion is a top down shooter and is a spiritual sequel to Orion: Prelude. While it is $9.99, this doesn’t surprise us in the least. Orion: Prelude was originally around the same price on release as we recall, so this doesn’t shock us. We managed to buy up a small handful of gift copies for $0.99 each.
To be honest, we weren’t quite sure what to expect. While we enjoyed Prelude to some degree, we found it was too heavily focused in multiplayer to truly get deeper into. However, it was almost impossible to pass up at $0.99. The story involves the world being ravaged by global warming, war, and corporations. In the 2040s, satellites are sent out to find other earth-like habitable planets. Thus the planet Orion is found, and that’s where the game starts up.
Visually, it’s your fairly typical top down shooter. It doesn’t look amazing, but it doesn’t look horrible either. While there isn’t a native weather system, there are three main biomes to play in: desert, grasslands/ruins, and snow. The player can also play on the maps on day or night, but the maps in general look better during the day. The environments aren’t particularly memorable, but they differ enough to tell each apart from one another. We personally liked the snowy maps the best. There’s a good variety of visual settings as well. We did receive screen tearing both with and without Vsync on, so we’ll presume it has something to do with the game and DirectX11. It wasn’t bad enough to stop playing, but it was annoying. We didn’t try to run the game in 5760 x 1200, but if the screen tearing was present at 1920 x 1080, 5760 x 1200 won’t do us any favors at the moment.
The game plays fairly typically to a standard top down shooter with some rpg elements. The game starts out with an offline mode and an online mode. The offline mode is the same as online except restricted to local co-op or single player. Wait, local co-op? Seriously? You, you offered local co-op? Gotta be honest here, we’re surprised. A nice surprise as local co-op is getting more and more rare in the PC gaming scene as of late.
To start the game online, you create an account. After that, it will sign you in, sign you into steam, and you’re off. You’ll spawn in a main hub world where you can buy items and crafting materials, talk to players, join other servers, create parties, etc. We don’t believe there’s native support for microphones, but we’re not quite sure. No one we played with talked except in the chat menu during our time with the game. To start playing, choose a class you want to play as (we chose support for his shield ability and shotgun) and you then level up. Each class you chose levels up independently, but the items and crafting materials you obtain from the store or during missions are universal to all the classes. The crafting is fairly limited, and we mainly just crafted things that give us a bonus to XP, as well as crafting some legendary items. You have common items (no color) below your level (green) at your level (yellow) and legendary weapons (purple). You can also craft or find armor pieces or bonuses to your class’ special power. Weapons and armors will give different bonuses for different things. In example, a level 300 chest piece may have 500 defense and add 200 intelligence, but a level 310 chest piece may add 550 defense but add 150 strength and so on. Legendary items often have special traits such as bonus gold finding or certain things that once hurt you healing you.
For gameplay, you then can switch from a top down perspective to a third person perspective. However since some enemies don’t have great hit detection, the third person perspective many not show you being hit because the enemies can be further away. That being said, gameplay was satisfying and enjoyable. We mostly played in the top down perspective and we found the third person to be a nice bonus. The Steam store page says that there will also be a first person mode, but it either has yet to be added in, or we just couldn’t get to it.
Once you get into a game, you’ll be faced with a small variety of ten or so enemies in small to large hoards. You have the standard variety of enemies like velociraptors and the t-rex, and you have robots that shoot lasers and throw grenades at you. There’s not a huge variety of enemies, but there’s enough to keep players interested, and we’d like to see a larger variety by release. You also have 2 modes to play from as of this review: Survival, and slaughter. Slaughter is just surviving until you get brutally eaten by a t-rex, and Survival involves guiding a ship known as a ‘harvester’ around and protecting it, along with yourself. You’ll also occasionally be sent on missions to go kill a group of enemies during these survival missions and you’ll get a bonus crate full of bonus items like augments and crafting materials, and while it feels like a nice reward, they feel shoved in. During the time we played with some friends, we managed to run through all the possible bonus missions in just a few dozen waves of survival, so more variety in those would be well placed, but they work fine as is without much issue. Once you finish a match, you can go to the shop, talk to other players in the hub world, etc.
Note that there aren’t a lot of players online, so we hope that something is done to rectify that.
As for audio, the soundtrack while fairly short, was also well done. A few songs stuck out more than others, but they still all felt like they fit in the game. They aren’t ‘buy the soundtrack’ worthy music, but it fits the game just fine. Audio and sound effects were also well done, and what I expected. Many of the characters have repeat dialogue that repeats VERY quickly, so we’d like to see some more lines recorded for each class for some needed variety.
So as one might expect when one starts the game, we tried to access the menu. Our first problem was that the ‘Full Controller Support’ they advertise having didn’t really work. We tried all our Xbox 360 controllers both wired and wireless, and we tried a PS3 controller just because why not? We couldn’t get any to recognize the game, or the game to recognize the controllers. While the keyboard controls are better than those from the top down Halo spinoff games, we still would have preferred to use a controller that actually was recognized by the game.
Luckily, we happened to get a new Lunar White Xbox One controller shipped to us that was coming the night we played the game. Both wired and wireless the controller was recognized without a problem. The keyboard controls aren’t bad enough that you really need a controller, but we just prefer them for certain genres of games. The keyboard controls are also fully bindable, which was an added plus. Besides that hiccup, the controls are about what you’d expect. With rebindable keys as stated before, plenty of options, and decent controls as is, the controls and layout were fine. We don’t know why the 360 controllers we tried didn’t work with the game, so we’ll go ahead and throw that under the ‘bug’ category.
Despite some gripes with the game, we enjoyed our time with it. It often reminded me of the older Turok games, as well as the Turok comic series. It’s not totally fleshed out, but we still enjoyed killing triceratops and getting murdered and eaten by t-rexes. We enjoyed the large variety of classes to choose from, and we enjoyed the nice variety of augments and abilities you can find. We wish you could sell unwanted items in the shop, and we hope that will be an upcoming feature at some point. While it is enjoyable, it’s clear that the focus is multiplayer, and it’s far better with a friend or two by your side.
For what it’s worth, we really like the concept of the game. While not the most solid early access game out there, it certainly got our attention. Would we have purchased it at $9.99 as it is? Probably not, but it’s still a decent game nonetheless and plays well. While not the most stable, it’s stable enough to play, enjoy, and remember a time when the only dinosaur related things involved either Jurassic Park, or a native American, mind controlled dinosaurs, and evil humans .
We ran a standard FRAPS benchmark test while playing one full, 10 mission game on easy difficulty.
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