Developed by the Russian studio Team Renzy, Orange Cast is a long-awaited third-person action game, across a universe filled with lore, mysteries, and of course, lots of alien dangers. It is considerably more linear than what I expected but still manages to deliver quite the impressive content.
When I first heard of Orange Cast, my expectations were high, as with many others waiting for another horror space action game that could very well take inspiration from Dead Space, in a Mass Effect universe. Obviously fans took over this cross between titles as a gesture of hope, wishing for it to actually be true, sooner or later.
Remember, however, that Orange Cast is not the expected Triple-A experience, and leans more towards the “very ambitious” indie title that actually aims to deliver a full fledged experience. It’s far from perfect, and there are a lot of things that could have been improved, but all the fundamentals are still present.
Once Upon a Time... Space
If this one is going to surprise you in anyway, it’s probably in its story. There’s absolutely no way one can predict what will happen during the story, and there’s a good and a bad reason for it. The good is due to the constant twists, and the bad derives from the not-so-perfect translation. Still, the story can provide you with a level of interest, especially if you’re into sci-fi, with a lot of hidden references and small details about its universe.
It’s supposedly inspired by James S.A. Corey’s The Expanse, but that doesn’t say much, except how in the game’s universe different parties took over the Galaxy in a commercial way, where the wonders of exploration were silenced by the corporations. After that, I felt Orange Cast had a lot of original things going for it, including characters and events.
We play as a soldier who died in battle, but death in the current times does not mean a final rest, instead, it means a second chance to fight. While losing one’s essence, the military found a way to recycle useful human bodies, to continue the justification of wages for the war. A pretty good concept that develops a military and personal branch for players to engage in.
A Coverless Shooter
Orange Cast went through some changes since the initial release. It would be unfair not to recognize the studio’s effort to improve the gameplay, but at the same time, I have to wonder if it will ever be enough. I feel the foundations for the core mechanics are already severely simple to hold any major update. For instance, there isn’t a cover system, and crouch behind objects doesn’t necessarily work as it should.
Overall geometry seems somehow conflicting with the character movement. I found myself being stuck on floor irregularities, as if there's some geometry issues. In the animation department, they are actually decent, but easily repetitive.
As the story progresses, we visit and explore different planets, but every single time in a linear way. I’m actually glad it’s not another sandbox experience, allowing a more simple progression through missions and objectives. While visiting different planets, there will be some optional side-quests mostly asking you to complete generic missions with a weapon as a reward.
It wouldn’t be a shooter if I didn’t dive into it’s shooting mechanics. They work, but more in an old fashioned way. Shooting has been improved and is more satisfying than when originally released at least. Weapon handling has also gone through some changes, and is slightly better. Different regions offer different dangers, and thus requiring you to pick up and learn how to handle new weapons.
There was a clear effort to take Orange Cast into a different dimension, one where players could traverse the Galaxy. I cannot confirm this, but I do have that feeling. Fortunately, there’s a short segment where we do drive a small ship, but it’s very basic and barely worth mentioning.
Art and visuals
Visually, Orange Cast has recently been patched to match the world’s lore. I mention lore due to the increased lighting effects added. The game looks much darker, polluted, and in some areas, even more exotic than before. This fits the lore and story so much better, even though in my personal opinion, the game looked just fine. You can see the differences HERE. Which do you prefer, the original, or the new version?
Nonetheless the game feels as though it strikes on its presentation. It’s a strange universe, with vivid colorful plants, explosions, and sky boxes as rich as you can imagine. I enjoyed the locations, even the building complexes, which shown originality in its architecture.
There was undoubtedly an effort to make the universe of Orange Cast original, across each of its assets, and I truly felt a genuine atmosphere when it came to the art direction. This is clearly a step in the right direction if the studio intends to create its own franchise.
The major issue I personally found was with the subtitles as they are just way too small. If you want a couch session with a gamepad, I can 100% guarantee you’ll not be able to read it. Even playing normally I had to get my head closer to the screen to read it. Not sure what the developers intended with this.
On the performance side, Orange Cast falls in the acceptable category. It’s not extremely heavy like many other Unreal Engine 4 games out there, and based on its original color palette, you could tell the game was originally in Unreal Engine 3. I also have to assume the studio did a port between versions, which probably proved to be the best maneuver.
Although it isn’t specified on the Steam page, for a good 1080p experience I recommend either a RX 580 or Nvidia’s counterpart, the GTX 1060. I managed to hold 60 fps using a High preset with an RX 580. There are some drops, but it seems to be from optimizations rather than limitations.
No need to make extra notes when it comes to optimization, except for some options missing in the current version. Field of View isn’t available, and it could really benefit the game. Removing motion blur and other effects would also be quite suitable for the game, perhaps even the option to select the filters available. Luckily none of these seem to affect the performance.
The main soundtrack delivers a cool post-rock wave, very sullen, and very shoegaze if you will. This sits perfectly within the setting and atmosphere. However the in-game music is very simple, lacking any real impact. It’s still there, but substance is scarce. Sound effects will most likely become repetitive after a couple of hours, but still tolerable.
The best audio works can be heard during cutscenes, with a stylized soundtrack, followed up by impeccable dialogues. Something that may place fans a little bit off, is the Russian original voiced-dialogues. To me, I consider that a marvelous extra, as it’s a language I really enjoy listening to, but I know many out there preferred the English.
An extra interesting detail is the Alien dialect, which is made up of an entirely new language, which consists of some whisperings and deep voice-like sounds. But the effort is still remarkable!
Orange Cast features approximately 10 hours of gameplay and it’s definitely worth picking up considering its base price. A very good amount for a decent action shooter that may very well appeal to sci-fi fans. I also expect more updates and improved gameplay as this has already been announced by the developers!