Currently in Early Access, Orbital Bullet combines a unique 360-degree level design with deep systems, creating a roguelite shooter like no other.

In recent years, the roguelike genre (and its more accessible cousin, the rougelite) has exploded in popularity, especially in the indie realm. Many players have adopted this deliberately difficult genre with excellent starters like Dead cells and Underworld wowing critics and fans alike. However, as the terrain becomes more crowded, roguelikes have to come up with new mechanics to stand out. A roguelite shooter to come, Orbital Ball, aims to do just that with deep customization and a completely unique way of presenting its levels.

Orbital Ball is described by developer SmokeStab Studios as a “360 degree roguelite” that combines 2D pixel art with its 3D circular level design. Players navigate each world by spinning through individual levels one at a time, then ascending to the next circular level. This unique design, combined with random generation, allows for a new style of action and shooting platforming, where players and enemies are stuck on the same geometry on a loop without any loopholes.

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Orbital Ball uses procedural generation to create a unique game every time the player dives back, constantly shuffling things up after every death. Players must send enemies to each circular level to continue, going up to the next ring and so on until a boss is hit. Like other roguelites, Orbital Ball emphasizes difficulty and players should expect a challenge with every race, as well as the inevitable death scores.

orbital bullet combat laser explosion

Players start each run with a semi-automatic weapon and double jump, but like any good roguelite shooter, Orbital Ball stacks on abilities and weapons with furious frequency. After completing each level, players can upgrade their character with new abilities, adding chain lighting to attacks, or even turning the double jump into a much more useful triple jump.

Orbital Ball Also boasts its own unique ‘dynamic skill tree’, as available abilities are randomly generated, as are levels. This allows each run to be a mixture of luck and proper planning, a major tenet of the roguelite genre. Each class has its own skill tree – from fire-based Hellion to Turret-carrying Engineer – and players can unlock four classes in total to experiment and choose a favorite.

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Players can wield rocket launchers, sniper rifles, shotguns, and a plethora of automatic weapons that can be swapped out on the fly to give the race an edge. Two weapons can be held at a time, so players will need to strategize and figure out which combination works best for each race. Additionally, players can also find weapon blueprints in races that will allow powerful unlocks that players can use at the start of a race, providing another way to gain a much needed advantage. Orbital Ball even has a trader who can appear halfway through and offers a way to buy powerful weapons if the player has enough currency looted from enemies.

360 degree orbital ball level design

However, despite the plethora of customization options on every run, Orbital Ball don’t stop there; it offers players one of the best aspects of roguelites: permanent unlocks. After death, players can spend an alternate currency to unlock permanent character upgrades, including a powerful shield or increased health to ensure the next race can last a little longer, further adding to the powerful loop of roguelite which requires one more run after a difficult death.

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Orbital Ball may have all of the traditional best aspects of a great roguelite shooter, but it’s really in the level design that the game sets itself apart. The title of the game refers to the player’s ability to fire bullets and projectiles that will orbit the circular levels. This seemingly small detail adds style and flair to combat, as players can time a shot from a rocket launcher or sniper rifle to knock back an enemy in the background, giving a satisfying and elegant kill. which is as impressive to realize as it is to see. Players can even hit enemies with a Mario-like stomping, or jumping on enemies’ heads to send them against another weapon in an already overflowing arsenal.

Orbital Ball is currently on Steam Early Access for a year, and it just received a new update called “Fresh Meat” which adds new weapons along with additional skills and upgrades. It has three types of levels available, with more slated for its full release, which is currently slated for April 2022. For those who want a unique roguelite shooter full of deep systems and challenging combat, Orbital Ball seems like a no-brainer.

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