Pixelnauts stopped by our office to give us an early look at their current work in progress called Lost Orbit, a vertical-scrolling space platformer. The gameplay resembles high speed platforming games like Bit Trip Runner--only, instead of moving from side-to-side, the screen moves up and down...and you're floating around in space. You'll have to survive the various stages filled with environmental hazards that will splatter you into a bloody paste or freeze you into an ice cube.
Your astronaut (named Harrison) becomes stranded out in the middle of space, four solar systems away from Earth. He must make his way back home using only his suit's booster pack and the gravitational pull of nearby celestial bodies. The gameplay is extremely fast-paced; you'll have to use your control sticks to avoid asteroids, orbit planets, and slingshot yourself around alien globes to get through each level as fast as possible. But you'll have to be careful in your high-speed space jaunt. Colliding with asteroids and other hazardous objects will leave your bloody, dismembered appendages drifting in space.
As you travel through the levels, there are collectibles aplenty to grab as you fly through the narrow areas between space rocks, but the main goal is to complete a level quickly. You'll have to use various planet types and power-ups to help you navigate through the solar systems. In our demo, Harrison encountered three different planet types: standard, gas, and water. The standard planet allows the astronaut to orbit the world so that he can redirect himself to get through sharp turns. Also, you can skim a standard planet's atmosphere to get a small boost of speed and chain them together to achieve maximum velocity. Gas planets explode as you pass through them and mainly act as another accelerating mechanism. The water planets stop you outright, but allow you to launch out of them in any direction. The planets we saw were rather straightforward, but the developers mentioned that there will be other planet types to interact with and combine their properties to bypass hazards.
Orbiting a fire or ice planet can benefit Harrison, but being exposed to the extreme elements can also take a toll. For instance, flying around a fire planet can set your astronaut aflame after a few rotations, which can help you melt frozen barriers. However, if you don't put out the flames in time by diving into a water planet or orbiting an ice planet, you'll be burnt to a crisp. Ice planets also have the opposite effect, freezing Harrison so he can pass through fire undamaged, or turning him into a space popsicle if you don't reach the necessary relief quick enough.
Although the developers couldn't go into much detail, they did say that players will encounter unique space environments, various power-ups, and even an alien species here and there. From what we've seen, the game looks to be coming off to a good start. Expect to see Lost Orbit hit Steam, Android, and iOS in Fall 2013.