Orchids to Dusk
I’ve had this game sitting in my itch collection for a while wondering when the best time was going to be to play it.
Orchids to Dusk is a short third person exploration game. Short being the keyword here. About five minutes long. The premise is that you are an astronaut that has crashed landed onto an alien planet with no resources and limited oxygen supply living out your final moments.
As the game loads, it displays your character on an empty, sea green coloured planet. Scattered over the hills you can see sections of greenery: trees, bushes, flowers. Stretching across the whole sky is orange as if you have coincidentally landed as the sun is setting (perhaps that was the reason behind the crash landing, you just wanted to have a better view of that glorious orange sky).
As you begin to walk around, the sound of wind rolls off the hills that surround you. Moments later, the calm atmospheric music fades in. It’s music that I could happily listen to whilst I work. This pleases me.
I go off and explore. I find a little alien buddy laying on the floor. I was not alone in my ship.
In the distance I spot some mountains. I check my oxygen levels and believe I can make it. I cannot make it. Wasted the last moments of my life trying to see how far I can go without actually taking in the current environment. At around the 5% oxygen levels, the screen begins to blur and your character hunches over and moves a lot slower. I blame this for my failure of not becoming a mountaineer.
I decide to start a new game. I have a gut feeling that there was most likely some other things I might have missed.
I awake in front of my pod and move a few steps away to begin taking in the scenery. During this time, the pod behind me explodes. Well, lets hope I didn’t leave anything important in it.
In the distance I can see another alien buddy. As I stroll over, I spot two more in the distance. I definitely was not alone. I had a whole crew. Next to their bodies are footprints in the dirt. They too went through their last moments on this planet.
Around me now are a few plantations. I explore the closest one. It contains some big trees and some small lily pad looking plants. Amongst the mass of green are striking orange plants.
After I have finished exploring the patch of vegetation, I have less than half of my oxygen supply left. So I find the closest hill to stand on and take in the scenery.
If you leave your character to be inactive for a while, they will lay down on the ground and cross their feet. Leave it just a little bit longer and you will be presented with an option to take off your helmet!
I mull over a few things my character must have been going through: crashing onto an empty planet, seeing three of its comrades lying on the floor, only having a few more minutes of oxygen left before it gets to meet its maker.
I take off the helmet.
Oxygen system alarms go off. Pressure release sounds. The little alien guy crouches over onto the ground as giant pink balloons inflate out of the back till they pop… popping into the same green foliage that surrounds us.
Paradox is a top-down space shooter. You are a ship and your mission is to mine asteroids for resources and also complete missions in targeting other ships.
Upon loading up the game, you can visually see that the aesthetic the creators have gone for is old arcade cabinet style Asteroids. Ships, asteroids and stars are all drawn from basic shapes using white as the outline. In order to give the cabinet style feel, they have distorted the view as it were on an old curved glass screen, added scan lines and rendered some faux pixel distortion.
I start off, floating, surrounded by stars. Screen is fairly clear. Basic HUD along the top: health, fuel, power. On the screen is a label pointing towards a space station. I decide this will be the first place I visit.
On my journeys, I drift across some asteroids. I begin to mine, firing minerals off as I dig in; some float slowly away that I can grab whilst others projectile off. Once I finished mining it , it drops more minerals with some additional debris. Probably don’t need the debris but its mine so I take it.
I continue on my journey to the space station watching asteroids speed past me. I wonder if I get hit by one whether it will do any damage. They do.
I arrive at the station and dock. This presents me with one of the main interfaces of the game: a terminal. Typing
help provides me with a clear list of commands and simple description. During my playthrough, I really enjoyed using this display as it felt super simple and the commands were easy to remember.
I sell some goodies (but not the debris, that shit is mine) and take on a mission. Destroy a ship and bring back its black box. The ship is far away so I know I need to conserve my fuel. As I travel, other ships whizz past me. I picture that I must be the equivalent of an old lady driving slowly down the motorway.
I eventually arrive at the ship and boy is it going fast. In order to keep up, I have to change course drastically. At this point I learn I am useless with fuel management. All of the juice I saved drifting through space, I burn through trying to keep up. The target ship speeds away leaving my debris-filled vessel floating amongst the stars.
I open up my ships onboard terminal to see if there is anything I can do whilst in the background I’m passing stars and asteroids that I could have potentially mined. I don’t find anything apart from
suicide which I don’t think is needed quite yet.
Whilst “strategically sailing” through the darkness, a space station appears on my map. One that I happen to almost be perfectly in line with. If I can just be close and quick enough to dock, I can refuel and be on my merry way. 500. 400. 300. Here we go.
I’m just out of reach as I slide past helpless. I then hit an asteroid ಠ_ಠ