Orbu is a fascinating and beautifully designed ARKit game inspired by the Japanese Zen gardens. This is Dream Reality Interactive’s first Augmented Reality (AR) game. The idea was to create a fun and relaxing AR game for all ages.
In Orbu you need to guide Orbu creatures – Tanuki (raccoon dog), Noko (turtle) and Konkon (fox) back to their home through different obstacle courses so they will eventually reach their spiritual homes. Each Orbu appears in different seasonal map. As of the time of writing, there are three seasons: Spring, Summer, and Autumn, with a Winter map coming soon.
In each level, the player needs to roll the Orbu towards an endpoint. There are also butterfly collectibles that you can found and collect in each level. Furthermore, you can also feed the fish by pushing the food into the pools where they swim. At the top-left side of the screen, you can see how many of those objectives and collectibles are completed.
Orbu has very simple controls, quite similar to Dragon Putt with slingshot mechanics. You use a swipe and release gesture to throw the Orbu creature to a particular direction. The longer the swipe, the stronger the throw. This is a very engaging and fun interaction, I really liked it when I played Dragon Putt. I liked it even better in Orbu because you throw an actual creature, not a lifeless static object. It’s really nice seeing how the Orbu is rolling on the ground, it’s pretty amusing.
Here is a gameplay video, enjoy!
Speaking as an adult gamer, Orbu isn’t a difficult game, especially if you are just rushing it and ignoring the rating and collectibles. I was able to finish it is an hour or so. I think that in that aspect, it appeals more to the younger audience. This is one criticism that I have and I do hope that the developer will add more complicated levels in future updates.
Having said that, I do acknowledge that the game was designed to be fun, relaxing and accessible for kids, so I can understand the decision behind it. Furthermore, if you want to challenge yourself, you can still do that, by trying to finish each level with a 3-star rating and find all the collectibles that are available on each map. It’s funny that I am bragging that the game is easy, but I finished most of the rounds with a one or two-star rating. As a completionist, I intend to revisit each map finish each stage with a 3-star rating.
Graphics & Level Design
The graphics are the best aspect of this mobile game. The characters are adorable, especially Taniko, the raccoon dog (LOL, raccoon dog, that’s funny). The game features beautifully looking maps, each one is more charming and magical than the other. The levels design is remarkable—very detailed with beautiful natural elements like rocks, lakes, water stream, trees, flowers, fish and beautiful leaves floating in the air.
The entire visual experienced is wrapped up with relaxing background music and great sound effects that further contribute to a more pleasing and entertaining gameplay experience. I really enjoy playing Augmented Reality games with vibrant and detailed virtual worlds. It really improves the game experience, making it more cheerful, I felt the same when I played Sing AR Fight. Unfortunately, we don’t get to see many ARKit games with such big attention to the visuals. This is one of the main reasons I was so excited to play this game.
Of course, visuals shouldn’t come instead of a great gameplay experience but nourish and enhance it, and in my opinion, this was achieved beautifully in this game.
In terms of level design, many of the maps are very detailed not just for aesthetic purposes, but also to encourage the player to physically move around the map searching for hidden places and items, as well as understanding the structure and pathing so it can successfully lead the ORbu creatures towards the endpoint.
There was a funny moment where I just threw the Orbu creature straight, only to find a second later that the two parts of the path aren’t actually aligned. Only when I moved around the game area, I was able to clearly see how to proceed. There are some nice interactions, like needing to hit several drums in order to lift up a pathway. Some of the levels are quite complex and requires good observation. However, this can pose some difficulty for, but less for adult players.
Some levels have hidden multi-level paths, which I really liked. This means that the path isn’t fully revealed, and you need to move the Orbu creature through certain paths in in order to reveal the other sections of the path and progress forward. The level design is really well made, followed by compelling animation and sound effects. I just wish there were more complex and taller structures like this—just to make it more challenging for an adult player like myself.
I just want to add that I really liked the subtle color palette choice. The red isn’t too harsh, the colors are still vibrant but stirring towards “milky” pastelic colors. This is obviously a great choice, especially considering that the developer aspired to deliver a relaxing gameplay experience.
I have no complains here. The game was very easy to set up. I was able to resize it easily to fit the area I was playing. You can easily play it anywhere you are, whether in a small indoor area or preferably outdoors in a larger size.
I liked that the game doesn’t have strict edges, doesn’t appear square or circular. This makes the rocks, the trees and all the other items surrounding the main gameplay area seamlessly merge with the real environment. I personally think that this game will look amazing on a green grass or on a white sand at the beach. I’ve played it on the floor in the living room, and it still looks great.
I had high hopes for this game and I am glad to say that Orbu didn’t disappoint. It features many of the things that I love about games in this genre in general and AR games in particular, including but not limited to: fun and engaging controls, vivid, cheerful and captivating visuals, detailed level design, likable characters, achievements, progression system and a comfortable gameplay experience.
The game will probably won’t be challenging for most adult players, but definitely can be for the younger audience. It does feature a rating system and hidden objects for those completionists among you or those looking for an extra challenge. I still think that when the ORbu falls into the water or out of the map, it should start from the beginning, not from the last place. I think the developer shouldn’t be too forgiving.
Dream Reality Interactive certainly deliver a compelling game suitable for all ages. This is definitely a game that I’m sure my niece will fall in love with and I can’t wait to play this game with her.
I enjoy every moment of it. For me, it was more like a magical mini-golf like experience. Having said that, Dragon Putt is another game that offers a quite similar experience but with less complexity but with much more features like unlockable and upgradable characters, daily challenges, achievements and even a level designer. I wish that Orbu had some of the features that this game has. That being said, I did find all those features to be quite overwhelming. I think that considering that this game has a great appeal to kids, it should be simple otherwise it can complicate things quite a bit and make it less attractive.
Overall, a fantastic little ARKit iOS game highly recommended for kids (Rated 4+ on the App Store). Unless you are an adult gamer searching for a more challenging ARKit game, get this game, I’m positive that you’ll have fun playing it.
You can purchase and download the app from the App Store here. Just keep in mind that this is an ARKit game, which means it compatible only with the following iOS devices running iOS 11.0 or later: iPhone X, iPhone 8 and 8 Plus, iPhone 7 and 7 Plus, iPhone 6s and 6s Plus, iPhone SE; iPad (2017, 9.7) and iPad Pro (12.9 and 10.5). Have fun.