Rotor was released February 20, 2011 via Xbox Live Indie Games.  It was developed by Pocket Starship and sells for 80MSP.  A copy of the game was given for review purposes.  All of the game’s aspects were explored.

Indie developers Pocket Starship have hit the XBLIG scene with their freshman release, Rotor. In the game players pilot a helicopter in a stylized open world and complete minigames which involve things such as collecting orbs or attempting to accurately fly down a specified path. Does it stand up to the basement price of 80MSP? Hit the jump to find out.

Here’s what we liked:

Cool prototype-esque art style – From the moment the game’s main menu appears players are introduced to a stylized world akin to a whitebox testing phase of a game’s development. Not every game could pull this off, but the ambient occlusion combined with the ability to customize the color scheme for the game allows players to create a unique look in the simple-yet-appealing environment.

Paint your environment – The ability to customize the three main colors of the game’s environment is a very unique and welcome addition to the game. Players can choose from pre-defined color schemes or set their palette of three colors to the black and gold of Purdue University to the green and white of the NBA’s Boston Celtics. The changeable color schemes also help with depth perception, providing a varied array of colors to differentiate buildings.

Open world gameplay – Although the environment of Rotor is rather small, it’s perfect for a joyride or completing the game’s challenges. Streets and buildings have plenty of variation to create a believable, stylized city.

Here’s what we didn’t like:

Difficult learning curveRotor‘s control scheme works well enough, and the physics system used to power the helicopter yields believable flight. The problem lies in the fact that any player unfamiliar with how video games handle helicopter simulations will immediately be overwhelmed. Difficult controls combined with no tutorials or How To Play screen may scare away some players.

Which way do I go?Rotor features several minigames scattered throughout its city. Players can attempt to accurately fly a specified path, collect orbs in a given amount of time, and more. What hurts the game it doesn’t orient the player to prepare for the challenge.  If a player flies into one of the areas to start a minigame, they will begin that game in the direction that they flew in, regardless of what direction they should be heading. This leads to frustration as the helicopter must be turned around to find the way to go, losing valuable time.

Rotor is a game that could have been more. Like so many other Xbox Live Indie Games it could have been sold for a higher price if the core gameplay had been tuned to be comfortable to the consumer. As it stands the game is pretty to look at, but difficult to learn.

Score: Try It