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Orion Haste Review for PlayStation 5

Do you ever long for the simpler times of 16-bit run-and-gun platformers? Do you ever wonder where the Contras of the world have gone in the modern day gaming landscape? Well, Ratalaika Games is here to ease your nostalgia with Orion Haste: an action-packed blast from the past where players can take control of a nameless soldier to defend one of humanity’s space stations from the destructive hordes of an alien empire.

Orion Haste’s story is appropriately simple for the nostalgic experience it’s trying to deliver, and it delivers that experience very well. It’s a simple run and gun with seven levels to fight through, and each level does a good job at feeling distinct with a unique gimmick or aesthetic. In one, you’ll be using one of your weapons to power different doors and elevators to progress while another will have a unique piece of spaceship gameplay as its opening segment. My favorite level took place underground and darkened the screen to sell that idea, and the only source of light were player and enemy gunshots. The varied levels help to keep the game from feeling repetitive.

Orion Haste Review for PlayStation 5

As for gameplay, it’s about what you would expect from this style of game. You can shoot in eight different directions while running, jumping, and crouching. You can also hold down the r1 button for more precise aiming while standing still. You have a choice between four different weapons: a standard pistol, an energy rifle that fires a continuous beam of electricity, a laser rifle that fires purple beams of energy that pass through enemies, and homing rocket launcher with a short range to compensate. While that sounds like a good selection of weapons, I found them to be indistinct from each other. The laser rifle and the rocket launcher are the only weapons that feel mechanically unique from each other. The pistol, energy rifle, and laser rifle all feel as though they deal the same amount of damage, and the laser rifle’s aforementioned ability basically renders the other two guns obsolete. The level that used the energy rifle to power machinery was a cool idea to add more utility, but it being a one-level-only gimmick feels like a waste of potential.

The game has a strange difficulty curve. Orion Haste’s enemies aren’t the problem. The game has a healthy variety of alien combatants, and they all behave in unique ways to give the player a good challenge, but the actual level design is what makes them dangerous. During my time with the game, I’ve often found that the level geometry was designed in a way to restrict player movement, which allowed enemies to land some hits that felt cheap. In actuality, this design incentivises a more cautious playstyle rather than jumping around guns blazing. While I would like to wholeheartedly praize this level design, I also found that it encouraged a gameplay loop of dying to something that felt out of your control (either due to the level geometry or to an enemy coming from one side of the screen and blind-siding you) and going through the level again at a snail’s pace to memorize every trap. While that kind of trial-and-error gameplay can be fun, I’m not quite sure that Orion Haste consistently makes it fun.

Regardless, Orion Haste is an enjoyable game. It’s a very nostalgic experience from its simple run-and-gun gameplay to its 16-bit graphics, but it never really strives for anything more than that. In the end, it’s a solid 7/10 game that will surely hit right for those yearning for a simpler game from a simpler time.

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Related: Reviews by Josh Freeman

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I love games and love talking about games. Some of my favorites include action games (both 2D and 3D), metroidvanias, roguelikes, shooters, and Indies.