Little Orpheus is a side-scrolling walking simulator where you experience the secrets hidden at the center of the Earth.
Title: Little Orpheus
Release Date: March 1, 2022 (Nintendo Switch Version)
Suggested Audience Age: Everyone
Time to Play: 3.5 hours, according to How Long to Beat
Availability: Switch, Xbox, PlayStation, Steam, Apple Arcade
Recommended for fans of: Pulpy Adventures, Hoa, and Golf Club Wasteland
Geek to Geek Media was provided with a review copy of this title.
I’ve never been a huge fan of Monster movies but finally watched through the most recent Godzilla and King Kong movies last year as part of Podcasters Assemble. One of the aspects that most stood out to me was how much fun the very silly, pulpy idea of a hidden world at the center of the Earth was. It reminded me of Land of the Lost, a show I loved as a kid and refuse to watch again because I’m sure it doesn’t hold up in the slightest.
Little Orpheus is a game that’s just hitting the Switch that lets you wander through a series of spectacular settings throughout the core of the planet. It’s an extremely gameplay light game and is instead focused on stunning, surprising vistas and a silly story.
The entirety of Little Orpheus takes place as a flashback sequence. You play as Ivan Ivanovich, a Russian explorer who somehow ended up on an assignment to escort an Atomic Bomb deep inside of the Earth’s mantle. Years after he disappeared on that mission, he’s being interrogated by a grumpy general on what has happened in the missing time.
During the game, you mostly hold the analog stick to the left as Ivan walks across amazing vistas in the background. You’ll find yourself passing by several different biomes, each with a ton of spectacle to see. As you go, you’ll frequently hear snippets of Ivan and the Generals conversation, which gives you insight into what the character is thinking and sometimes lends you advice on how to conquer the very few gameplay challenges you’ll come across.
Walk, Walk, and Walk Some More
Little Orpheus is as close to a 2D walking simulator as I’ve ever seen. As Ivan, you can walk (which you do a lot), jump over short obstacles or gaps, and slide through openings. There’s also an “interact button” which allows you to push or pull objects around the environment.
The adventure is extremely linear – there’s no room for exploration here.
There are three repeating sorts of breaks from walking that I’ve seen. Sometimes, instead of walking, you are being chased by something, which usually means still holding the analog stick to the right while also being ready to hit the jump button as the path you are on crumbles beneath the feet of a mighty pursuer. Other times you’ll need to be sneaky, which basically means waiting to push the analog stick to the right until a mighty pursuer looks away from the path you need to cross.
Finally, there are a few sequences where you need to interact with the environment. I would almost call these “puzzles”, but they are so rudimentary that they aren’t really going to tease the puzzle-loving part of your brain… they’re just going to mean you hold the analog stick to the right while also pressing the interact button to move something along.
Silly Enough to Work
Thankfully, the framing device in Little Orpheus does a lot to make up for the super simple gameplay. Both Ivan and the General are voice acted, and the writing and delivery have a tongue-in-cheek, pulpy quality that makes that side of the experience a lot of fun.
There’s not so much story here that every moment of gameplay has dialog on top of it, but you’ll never go too long without hearing from those characters.
When I first picked up Little Orpheus, I was expecting something that would feel similar to Hoa or Golf Club Wasteland. Of the two, I’d say this is closest to the latter. There’s not nearly as much exploration, discovery, or just gameplay in general as there is in Hoa, which I do think is kind of a shame. Instead, this is a game where the real joy is in experiencing beautiful environments while you listen to an interesting story, just like in Golf Club Wasteland.
Do not check out this game for its gameplay, because it just isn’t there. However, if you want a chill, silly, pulpy adventure that you can lightly interact with, there’s a fun story to see here.