Orbit.Industries (PC) Review

In space, you can’t escape your crippling debt

By Alex Orona

Let’s make something clear, I have uninstalled and reinstalled Orbit.Industries three times on three separate occasions. This is a management sim that puts you in the position of building out a massive space station satellite tasked with performing research and experiments. There are so many great unique ideas that make for creative and engaging gameplay that I wish I clicked with more. 

At its core, Orbit.Industries works as a task assignment plate spinning simulator. The game begins with you having an amount of money and watching that cash flow tick downward as your costs go up. To raise funds, you assign research experiments that take time to complete but reward cash. Already we can see a bit of how managing these jobs can be a balancing act against your constant money drain of maintaining said space station. Each task requires a resource, specifically parts of the space station like a lab or a generator. If you have a task running that uses a lab, you cannot perform a second task that requires a lab because your lab is busy… Unless you build a second or even third lab. Here’s where things start to ramp up.

There are three views of the space station, the outer view where you can build out pieces of your station in a modular style. Each piece connects to the next to expand and design your own personal space station. There’s the internal view where you have to wire up every single component, labs need power, oxygen and water so they need to be wired appropriately. This goes for every modular component, once attached physically in the outside view, they need to be wired internally as well until you have a complex weaving of wires. The third view is your missions and job board where you can assign jobs and perform story missions. 

The story missions are about finding new life on other planets as well as other inhabitable planets for the human race. While the jobs reward money, the story missions reward new resource components like a new atom conductor, which can be used to complete new jobs or tasks. It’s an addicting loop of performing story missions to complete new jobs for money but also doing more jobs to have enough money to complete story missions. It’s the dopamine hit of checking things off a checklist that really kept me engaged. 

The real wrinkles come with internal errors. Occasionally you will receive an internal error or virus that can spread throughout your ship. You get notified via an event log where exactly the issue is and if it’s spreading. To get rid of this error you need to delete the module that houses the error. This can be an easy task if you just need to destroy and rebuild a lab, but can be extremely frustrating and difficult if it’s a connector piece that has four other modules connected to it. Deleting that connector piece means rebuilding an entire wing of your station, which also means whole sections of your space station or now no longer in use and need to be rebuilt and rewired. 

While that can be frustrating (especially in instances where the issue spreads,) what really makes the game feel insurmountable is when you have dealt with said issue but somehow missed wiring one key component. The game doesn’t tell you when something isn’t wired but sometimes that component is what is needed to run almost everything and suddenly jobs are no longer completing. It’s absolutely disheartening to watch your money drop to zero while you struggle to figure out where a wire is missing that’s causing this whole mess. On top of that, finding out why your staff is no longer working on sectors of your components due to, say, oxygen shortages or something. The real issue is signposting. The game doesn’t give you much indication of what the issue is, but expects you to figure it out or suffer the consequences. There are interim solutions like loans but outside of that you’re twisting in the wind. 

Orbit.Industries is a fascinating management sim that displays something really addicting but overall frustrating. There’s a lot of premise here with a beautifully displayed UI and overall ease of use for the player but there needs to be more direction when things go south. I keep going back to Orbit.Industries thinking, maybe this next run I’ll figure it out, but ultimately find myself disappointed at another failed satellite company. I will continue to plug away at this game if only for morbid curiosity, or maybe it’s just pure spite? At this point I’m not sure but I’m down to find out. 

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