A near incomprehensible, thoroughly unenjoyable experience.
Orange Cast is a sci-fi third person shooter from developer Team Rez and published by Valkyrie Initiative.
Typically I like to either finish a game’s story, or at least play a good chunk of the game before I form my opinions, but with Orange Cast, I couldn’t bring myself to play much more than an hour, and I can’t see how anyone else could either. In the little over 60 minutes I spent with the game I became confused by its story, frustrated with its gameplay and legitimately felt so physically sick, due to the game’s aggressive levels of screen shake, that I had to turn the game off. If I could turn the screen shake off, I would’ve maybe been able to proceed with somewhat further, but the effect is seemingly baked into the game.
I really hate to be so down about a game. I like to try and find something redeemable, and clearly, the developers had a vision here, but I think the team’s ambitions for what they wanted to make outweighed their ability to actually make it. The shooting mechanics technically work, but there’s basically no feedback, making it lack any impact and therefore unsatisfying. The animations look pretty stiff, and some of them don’t make sense like in the opening cutscene, a character cocks a gun like a pump-action shotgun, but the gun doesn’t react to it. It looked like they had just attached a stock animation to a character. Combat encounters didn’t feel well designed either. Enemies felt randomly placed in rooms and hallways, and there wasn’t anything in the way of cover in the interior sections. When there was cover, my shots would end up colliding with the cover instead of hitting where my crosshair was aimed. There was a cafeteria with some shelves that looked like I could shoot through them to hit the enemies behind them, but it was one solid cube that my bullets couldn’t penetrate. It was frustrating. I had the ability to use a temporary shield, but enemies would quickly tear through it. It was hard to tell when I was hitting things or being hit and it led to a few deaths that felt sudden.
Visually the game is unremarkable. The main character looks fine, but the environments were pretty cookie-cutter sci-fi, looking to be inspired by titles like Warframe, Destiny and Mass Effect. Designwise, it was just sort of generic. Textures on the environments were also pretty blurry, and the developers added a filter to the game after release (the version I played). This gave it a brown/yellow hue that, at least to me, made the game look worse than the before images in a comparison video on the game’s Steam page.
The developers are Russian, and as they are a small team, it leads to a lot of issues in the translation. I couldn’t tell if things were meant to be in-universe terms or just a translation error at points. The game opens with a cutscene that is just some action shots and then cuts to a “months earlier” screen. At this point, you take control of a character in what I think was a simulation. You’re told by an entity named Asfal (I was unclear if it was the characters name or the race of the character) that you are basically dead and are now part of a suit called an “Uber Unit”. This Asfal then throws a lot of information to you about in-game factions but doesn’t really explain what or who they are. Instead, you’re told to go read the in-game codex. A codex should be supplementary to the main game’s story/world, but here it felt like it was required to even understand what was happening. There seems to be a lot of information to look through, so clearly the developer has come up with a lot of information on their game-world, I just felt like it should’ve given me that information as part of the game, not as a bunch of pages of text.
The sound in the game was serviceable at best. The music was fine, although during the prologue you’re thrown into an area with public domain music box music playing. I was immediately confused, looked around and found a note with a floating box next to it that said that that is where the sound was coming from. It was a weird inclusion. The other music is fairly standard sci-fi music, nothing memorable. Weapon sounds were pretty lacking, adding to the lack of impact in combat. There is voice-over, however, it’s entirely in Russian so there’s not much I could take from it, and because of the translation I wasn’t even sure if I was getting the information they wanted me to get at times, even in the first hour. Also, when spotted by enemies it plays a sound effect that sounds just a little to close to the sound that plays when spotted in the Metal Gear Solid franchise. I couldn’t tell if it was the exact same sound, but it was noticeable and pretty distracting.
The game was also pretty buggy. I ran out of ammo with my primary weapon, so naturally, I switched to my secondary, however when switching back to my assault rifle, it had gained ammo even though I hadn’t picked any up. And it was something I could replicate. There was also a baffling issue with the games compass that I noticed almost immediately. The rotation of the compass itself is tied to the player’s character model, not where the camera is facing. The markers on the compass, however, are tied to the direction the camera is facing, not the player’s direction. I’ll illustrate this issue in a couple of screenshots below. It meant that markers could change position based on where you’re facing in a way that made no sense. This issue goes away however if you draw a weapon, as then the player always rotates with the camera. When your weapon is holstered, camera rotation and player rotation are separate.
Like I said previously, I really don’t like to be so harsh towards a game, and I want to give the game as much time as I can to fully come to my judgement on it, but I really couldn’t bring myself to play more of this title. A lot of that is due to the game making me feel sick, and that’s obviously going to be a per-person issue, but it did impede my ability to play the game which is something I’ve never encountered in a game. Even after an hour of time passed, I still felt physically ill. Motion sickness notwithstanding, there wasn’t really anything in this game that makes it worth me recommending. Maybe it does improve, but I couldn’t see it happening, and I couldn’t bring myself to carry on.
If you’re even remotely interested in the game after reading this, Orange Cast is available for purchase now on Steam.
Tom Woods is a Games Journalist for ICUGamer.com. Follow Tom via Twitter @T_Woods93
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