ReviewsReview: Little Orpheus

Review: Little Orpheus


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Though I’ve tackled and enjoyed many titles that lack a hearty plot, I still yearn for a great story. There is something magical about losing yourself in a fantasy world, and Little Orpheus is overflowing with sci-fi charm. Moreover, it is reminiscent of the amazing film Journey to the Center of Earth. As such, I adored its silly, ridiculous, and nostalgia-fuelled ways.

Developed by The Chinese Room and published by Secret Mode, this is an adventure platform title. What’s more, it has an episodic approach, is filled with zany characters, and relies on some well-trodden mechanics. On top of this, the fantastic soundscape and incredible visuals create a stunning world to explore. However, its safe style and repetitive gameplay sadly prevent it from truly excelling.

Danger is around every corner.
Just keep running.

Little Orpheus has a weird plot.

I love when a developer has creative freedom, and The Chinese Room took this idea and went crazy. As such, Little Orpheus has one of the weirdest plots I’ve experienced in a long time. With many random locations, dinosaurs, ancient structures, and wild seas to explore, you lose yourself in its madness. Furthermore, its repetitive concepts and interesting navigation mechanics create a familiar and fun world to be part of.

You control a Soviet Cosmonaut called Ivan Ivanovich. This unlikely hero was sent on a mission to the centre of the Earth. However, this was no ordinary task, as his drilling machine was powered by a nuclear weapon. The Little Orpheus tool was designed to plunge deep into Earth’s core to explore its secretive depths. As the machine is plunging through tons of rocks, an accident occurs. Disappointingly, the machine fails and pieces of it are strewn across a strange subterranean world. Now, this wouldn’t be an issue, except that the nuclear weapon is missing as well, and Ivan’s bosses won’t be happy. Roll on 3 years, and Ivan surfaces to explain how he has saved the world, but his hardass boss decides he is lying and interrogates him to find the truth. Consequently, what unfolds is a whacky tale of dinosaurs, underwater creatures, and magical beings.

Some of the ideas are out of this world.
Hey little fishy.

A lack of adventure.

With 9 unique chapters to experience, you’d think that the gameplay would evolve nicely. However, excluding some minor changes, the action plateaus early on. Now, this should have been a major issue. Yet, it wasn’t! Instead, the developers managed to drip-feed minor area-specific tasks to keep things ticking over nicely. Whether you were swinging from vines or chains, flicking switches, avoiding your enemy’s gaze in a game of hide and seek, or leaping across platforms, it all worked. What’s more, the fantastic stage design, quick time events, and phenomenal story were enough to keep you going.

What I also adored was how well-staged each episode was. With amazing cinematic and fantastic cliffhanger endings, it felt like a late 70s/early 80s TV series. Furthermore, the short, sharp chapters set this up to be a great casual platforming experience. Subsequently, it is a really good game to play between rounds of COD or FIFA. Moreover, its silly ways and the interesting story keep you smiling throughout. However, it was a shame that its lack of depth held it back. Accordingly, you are desperate for it to evolve past its safe and familiar style, but it rarely does. As a consequence, no matter how insane the backdrops were, the action was cheapened by the lack of depth.

Little Orpheus looks spectacular.

Though I was frustrated by the underwhelming mechanics, visually Little Orpheus is spectacular. The sheer variety of stages, the intelligent design, and the wonderful cinematic paper over the cracks. Without a doubt, this is one of the best-looking indie titles I’ve tackled for a long time. However, I couldn’t help but feel disappointed about the linear gameplay and the basic side-scrolling perspective. With such a lush world to explore, the action feels far too restrictive. I appreciate that this was originally designed for Apple mobile devices, but I was desperate to explore every element in more depth. Sadly, this never occurred, and this left me wanting.

Alongside the top-notch visuals was the unbelievably clever audio. The incredible soundscape brought every element to life. Furthermore, it added drama, tension, and suspense whenever you were being chased. On top of this, the sound effects were fun, dangerous, and amusing. This is then matched by the phenomenal acting and excellent narration. The heavy soviet accents and the booming narrator will make you laugh while drawing you into the action.

The hide and seek mechanic is a staple of Little Orpheus.
Don’t get caught in the light.

Sluggish controls.

Fortunately, each action was simple to execute and easy to understand. This is lucky, as the sluggish controls leave a lot to be desired. Furthermore, the hitboxes weren’t perfect, and this makes matters worse still. Thankfully, this wasn’t too much of a problem, as many of the puzzles and platforming moments were quite forgiving. However, I would have preferred a more consistent and reactive control setup.

Another shortcoming is the replay value. Little Orpheus incorporates a collectable system, but the thinking behind it is broken. After 5 hours or so, you’ll complete a basic but rather enjoyable first playthrough. Once this is done, you can return to collect orbs and costumes. Now, this wouldn’t normally be a bad thing, but other than the introduction of the orbs, the levels don’t change. Accordingly, the desire to run through the game in its entirety is somewhat lacking. Subsequently, the developers got this horribly wrong. I would have preferred the orbs to be included from the off, and additional stages added for some variety.

Little Orpheus is good, but it’s not great.

There are plenty of reasons to enjoy Little Orpheus. However, there are also many reasons to be put off. Unfortunately, a reliance on classic platforming tropes and repetitive action holds it back. Furthermore, the collectables debacle leaves a bad taste in your mouth. Yet, the excellent cinematic, wonderful stage design and perfect soundscape make this worthwhile. Consequently, I am happy to recommend it despite its shortcomings. Can you convince the general that you are telling the truth? Relive your daring past as you tell the world about being a hero.


Little Orpheus is a colourful adventure title that plays it too safe. I loved its whacky story, interesting backdrops, and fun mechanics. However, its repetitive nature undermines its potential and this was disappointing.

+ Colourful and interesting graphics.
+ Clever audio.
+ Great stage design.
+ A fun concept.
+ I enjoyed the cinematic.

- The controls are sluggish.
- The collectable element is poorly executed.
- The action is repetitive.
- It plays it too safe.

(Rating: PEGI 7 Fear Release date: 13/09/2022 Price: £9.99)

(Reviewed on the Xbox Series X. Also available on Xbox One, PC (Steam), Nintendo Switch, PlayStation 4 and PlayStation 5)

Daniel Waite
Daniel Waite
My gaming career started on an Amiga and spans many consoles! Currently, I game using an MSI laptop and Xbox Series X. A fan of every genre, I love to give anything a go. Former editor and reviewer for, I'm loving my new home here at Movies Games and Tech. I can be contacted for gaming reviews on the following email:

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<p class="has-text-align-justify" style="font-size:14px"><em>Little Orpheus</em> is a colourful adventure title that plays it too safe. I loved its whacky story, interesting backdrops, and fun mechanics. However, its repetitive nature undermines its potential and this was disappointing.</p><br/> + Colourful and interesting graphics.<br/> + Clever audio.<br/> + Great stage design.<br/> + A fun concept.<br/> + I enjoyed the cinematic.<br/> <br/> - The controls are sluggish.<br/> - The collectable element is poorly executed.<br/> - The action is repetitive.<br/> - It plays it too safe.<br/> <br/> <p class="has-text-align-center" style="font-size:10px">(<b>Rating:</b> PEGI 7 Fear <b>Release date:</b> 13/09/2022 <b>Price:</b> £9.99)</p><br/> <p class="has-text-align-center" style="font-size:10px">(Reviewed on the Xbox Series X. Also available on Xbox One, PC (Steam), Nintendo Switch, PlayStation 4 and PlayStation 5)</p><br/>Review: Little Orpheus