It’s a brave move taking a mobile title and making the jump to the consoles, and history is littered with games that just couldn’t make the grade – even though the core idea was brilliant on the mobile side of things. The latest game to take this dangerous journey is Little Orpheus – a really charming story driven platformer from The Chinese Room, the studio behind the likes of Dear Esther and Everybody’s Gone To The Rapture. It’s safe to say they know how to craft a good game or two. It’s been two years almost since the game hit as an Apple Arcade exclusive, but fear not this is far from a straight port job as this is branded the definitive edition of the game, so has been rebuilt and remastered for the big screen with hi-res textures, new animations, and enhanced graphics and effects. There’s a new bonus as well… there is a bit of new content. You now get a ninth episode—A Rush of Onion to the Head – which is a nice touch for long term fans looking for something new.
The tale is set in 1962 and as NASA look to the stars, the other side of the iron curtain are looking in the other direction so to say. In a remote corner of Siberia, Soviet cosmonaut Comrade Ivan Ivanovich is set to drop into an extinct volcano in the Little Orpheus, to explore the center of the earth. Things go wrong and some three years later he emerges, claiming to have saved the world. He has also lost the atomic bomb powering the Little Orpheus, so it’s no surprise he is taken to a top-secret bunker, where the fearsome General Yurkovoi has two questions: “So… where have you been comrade? And where is my bomb?”. This kicks off one hell of a flashback adventure, as Ivan explains everything that happened up to that moment. With the game bouncing between black and white scenes as the General interrogates/talks to Ivan and the bursting-with-colour game world.
It’s a solid tale with some really funny moments and it’s all backed up with outstanding narration from the General and Ivan throughout. As for gameplay it’s a bit of a simple affair as it’s a side-scrolling adventure game so your main focus is making it from the left of the screen to the right. However, things get more complex the more you play with you having to run, jump and swing your way to safety. Timing becomes a huge part of things and it does cover up its mobile roots a little bit, and nine times out of ten there is something over the top happening in the background to draw your focus too. Graphically the game is stunning and is packed full of details with constantly changing number of backdrops. One minute you’re in a lush jungle dodging dinosaur giants, the next you’re in a vast cave system discovering a long lost civilisation.
Little Orpheus is very much about its tale with gameplay serving as a means to an end to get through its 6 or so hour run time. That’s not to throw shade on the game, as it’s really worth the play. There is an impressive level of games craft on show here, but being from The Chinese Room you would expect nothing less.
An Xbox review copy of Little Orpheus was provided by The Chinese Room’s PR team, and the game is available now on nearly all platforms.