My weird disc-shaped spacecraft is hurtling through the red skies of an alien world. Countless fiery meteors are falling from the sky and crashing into the angry seas below with explosive force. But, throughout the chaos, my little ship gracefully glides through the sky and I've never felt more at peace.
That's what I love about Exo One. The worlds you find yourself visiting are completely unpredictable, but you can always escape to the skies. It's a sci-fi exploration game that sends you on a journey through time and space in search of a team of astronauts who have sent out a distress signal.
You pilot a strange, shape-shifting aircraft that uses gravity and momentum to move. The ship can transform into a ball that zips across the ground picking up speed and then when launched into the air, it can transform into a flat disc to glide.
Using the left mouse button to increase the ship's mass, you can create momentum to roll and glide across these alien worlds with ease. Dropping into a valley at maximum mass creates an immense amount of speed which, by decreasing the mass and launching off a ramp at just the right moment, can project you into the air. Transform your ship from ball to disc when in the air, and you'll find yourself gracefully gliding through the clouds.
The gravity shifting takes some getting used to, but finding a rhythm in Exo One is effortless. It's easy to misjudge a dip in the landscape and careen your ball straight into the ground and kill your acceleration, but you can quickly get back in the air with some agile rolling and a well-placed crater. After a couple of well-timed launches, the game quickly becomes incredibly satisfying.
Treating these otherworldly playgrounds as your own personal skatepark is great, but those astronauts still need rescuing. Advancing your special mission means finding the wormhole at the end of each level, indicated by a bright, singular beam that goes from the ground into the sky.
Traversing each planet and reaching the beam will take you one step close to finding the missing crew, but it's okay to have a little exploration fun as the places you'll glide through are nothing short of stunning. With no time limit or enemies, you can travel at your own pace, taking in all the sights. These vast expanses are packed with extraordinary encounters, like desolate wastelands filled with alien structures to raging seas with no land in sight.
From the first four levels, Exo One seems to be both a serene and exhilarating sci-fi adventure. When you're gliding above the landscape accompanied by the hypnotic, ambient soundtrack, it is utterly engrossing.
Developer Exbleative has yet to pin down an exact date, but Exo One should be out sometime later this year. To scratch that exoplanetary itch in the meantime, you can play the first world by downloading the free prologue over on Steam.