Early Access: OreLight

OreLight1First up is our disclaimer. We received this game for review purposes only, and as such all opinions in this review are our own. No money has been exchanged for this review.

OreLight is a top-down, three-quarter view sandbox RPG from indie developer Geek Beach, Ltd. In addition to OreLight, this UK-based company is also responsible for StormTree, a multiplayer tower defense game exclusively for mobile devices at the moment.

The first thing you’ll do when starting OreLight is to select a game server. Be sure to choose one that is geographically close to you, so you’ll have plenty of neighbors to cuddle with as you foray into what will become an addictive, frenzied battle-fest.

OL1aThe next thing you’ll notice is the absence of a full player’s guide. There is currently a single page showing basic movement and inventory management keys, but you’re otherwise on your own to discover the mechanics of the open world. Speaking of worlds, there are seven individual maps, labeled “0” through “6”, and each comes with its own terrain type and challenge. You’re free to switch between maps wherever and whenever, but keep in mind that some of your inventory may may not follow you! The same rule holds for dying/respawning…you pay a a tax each time you leave the status quo. I actually like this feature; dying should come with a penalty, as should bugging out of a map when combat becomes too intense to handle.

The game starts you off in a small house on map “0”, where you meet your first friendly non-player character (NPC). This person will tag along for a short while as you explore, and will help fight off initial enemies. Soon enough, the NPC gets bored and wanders off. Whenever you die, you’ll respawn back at the house and the NPC will once again join you.

As you explore, be sure to bring up the mini-map (shown at left) often. It offers a quick overview of where you’ve been, and it lets you place way-points for your convenience, as well as flares to signal other players to your location.

To survive in the seven maps you’ll need to be aware of your current location, as well as acquire the three human basics: food, clothing and shelter.

Food is relatively plentiful in the open world. Fruits and veggies grow wild, and rampant denizens can be killed for meat. Ultimately you’ll want to build a homestead and grow your own crops nearby. Raw foodstuffs are typically inedible, so build a campfire and get cooking!

Crops1Clothing is next, in the form of armor (and weapons). You’ll need plenty of iron and possibly other resources to craft these, so mining for ore is a must. Simply approach a vein of iron, gold, coal, etc. and press your “use” key until the ore hex turns pink; release to collect.
Mining1Once mined, ore is added to your inventory where it can be crafted into items. The picture below shows it’s as easy as 1-2-3.

CraftingShelter is the third piece of the puzzle. For this you’ll want wood and coal. Wood resources are depicted on some maps as cotton candy; on other maps as mushrooms. Don’t ask. It’s a trade secret. Coal is mined similarly to iron or gold, but it’s veins are darker and sometimes a little hard to see. But compared to the wood, it’s downright obvious.

WoodBy far the most anticipated part of Orelight is the cooperative dungeon crawl. Valuable loot and powerful bosses are waiting for the bravest adventurers. Do not attempt if your character’s abilities are in doubt. Remember, death means re-spawning at the world map’s start point, minus some of your inventory!

Overall, I’m impressed with OreLight. It’s whimsical top-down take on the open sandbox is different; providing a smaller and faster-paced experience than other titles in the genre.

As of this review, the game is still in early access. Until further content is added, I’m giving Orelight my “default alpha” score…a nice warm 70. This number may rise or fall in the coming months, but so far I like what I see.

-Chris Roberts-