Developer: Not Yet
WarriOrb by developer Not Yet takes platforming to new leaps and bounds. The challenge of the game demands perfectly timed jumps, hitting buttons, and dodging bullets all while… bouncing! WarriOrb is a mixture of impressively designed physics and difficult platforming.
Language: There are very few swear words in the game; I saw the first D*** used in Act 2.
Spirituality: There is a Bhuddist monk that exists to be a guiding light to the journey and knows some helpful incantations, but also tries to convince WarriOrb to take a different path from the one the wizard sets him on.
Negative Content: Players take control of a demon warrior in the shape of a ball. A wizard summons him from the Unknown Realm, this game’s version of the afterlife. The motif of evil magic appears frequently throughout the game, as WarriOrb will fight reanimated objects, deal with spells, and use magic runes for casting otherworldly abilities.
Positive Content: The game attempts to present itself as a lighthearted romp through a desolate location. While the setting presents darkness, death, and despair, the demon WarriOrb has some funny quips. Some characters are also high-energy like the gnome professor who helps along the way, or the Raven, another character summoned by a wizard who just wants to accomplish his task and be done.
When the game starts up, players get a good idea of the stakes at hand. The world is shut down due to this Ruin, and a wizard sets to bring back his daughter from death. But instead, he summons a mighty warrior placed in a peculiar orb-shaped vessel. The wizard—who is without a name—finds another way to bring her back, and forces WarriOrb—who I get to name BALL-E—to help.
The beginning levels leave no actual room to practice ricocheting around. Instead, it teaches how to attack with a sword, jump, move obstacles around, and to introduce the difficulty. The timing required to complete the tutorial is on par with the White Palace from Hollow Knight. But this doesn’t come as a surprise, since the first loading screen is a message from the developers saying in an archaic tone: “embrace failure, if you’re succeeding, you’re doing it wrong”.
And there will be tons of failure. Not only because of the flying green bullets and the bottomless gaps, but because the controls aren’t tight. Bouncy boy is a little sluggish when moving around in general. Fighting feels slow, although I do get a laugh out of seeing the bad guys kick BALL-E around. Sometimes the jump button doesn’t register when coming out of a roll, and when it does, it’s still not quite on the nose.
However, it can’t be denied that bouncing—the game’s most important aspect—is the tightest, cleanest, and most enjoyable part of this game. It behaves exactly how a ball should. Controlling the movement and landing just right on the tiniest box is a steep learning curve, but once players figure out how to pull it off, they’ll find out just how much bouncing across pillars and reaching new heights makes them feel unstoppable. BALL-E can turn into ball form while jumping, running, or standing, and jumping while coming in contact with walls or ground will propel him. He can bounce up to three different heights, perform a long jump by curling up mid air, or wall jump upwards.
And players will certainly need to embrace those moments. Because if it hasn’t been explained enough, this game is tough. Dying is certainly going to occur, and resetting from the game’s hub point—the Soulkeeper statue— will bring feelings of frustration.
But that’s where Runestones come in. The very first stone (depending on difficulty) will be the temporary Soulkeeper statue. It can be placed practically anywhere; before, in the middle of, or after a treacherous puzzle, and at safe points—though not during a fight. It’s a life saver, because BALL-E doesn’t have much health. Thankfully health upgrades can be found in treasure chests (the ones that DON’T eat players.) Small health pick-ups, items to be sold, and keys also act as little rewards scattered around the place.
WarriOrb can wield a diverse array of weapons for use against his foes. Weapons have different speeds and special attacks, so shifting between them is handy. The enemies have simplistic designs, but telegraph their attacks, and all present a different situation. Some enemies won’t be weak to stun, while others stay in the air. Combined, the player is forced to strategize rather than mindlessly swing away expecting it to be over quickly.
The music is pretty average, invoking that foreboding sense the setting asks gamers to feel. Bosses have their own track, but large areas share one tune. The sound effects are decent, especially the bouncing.
Graphically, the areas are impressive. When in the sewers, pipes aren’t the only give away; green grime, dirty water, and low lighting also add to the ambiance. Likewise, the train tracks and rocks look different from the refined stone of the castle. The environment is designed in a 2.5D aesthetic where everything is modeled in 3D but the gameplay simply runs either left or right.
All in all, I was really blown away and had tons of fun with the bouncing physics. Heck, they may even be top tier gaming stuff. As for everything else, it’s underwhelming. I’m not burdened with knowing the end of the story; the wizard isn’t relatable, nor is the warrior. Did I mention that the platforms and puzzles are insanely hard?
And I wasn’t impressed by the fighting. A sword-fighting ball was just odd to me. Using the capability of the ball form for fighting seemed like an obvious expectation, but aside from rolling between the enemies’ legs, there is nothing in terms of battle. I would have at least liked to see a ground slam or homing attack. That, I think, would have really turned this game around for me.
But if a gamer is looking for unfair challenges, some light humor, and doesn’t want a story bogging down the journey, look this way.
Review copy generously provided by Novy Unlimited
The Bottom Line
Though flawed in many respects, WarriOrb is still worth playing for the bounce physics alone.