Exo One is not a game I would normally pay too much attention to, primarily because I prefer the kinds of experience that put me in the cockpit as a kind of heroic Biggles character - flying spacecraft and shooting weapons that have barely escaped the fevered imaginings of a seven-year-old who's just watched Star Wars for the first time. However, when you put "pilot an alien craft capable of manipulating gravity" in your game description, the slightly more evolved me can't help but take an interest.
The game has been described rather accurately as a combination of Tiny Wings and Journey, infused with sci-fi themes lifted from the likes of 2001 and Contact. Like Journey, in Exo One you are forever compelled towards something distant, hoping to reveal the core mystery at your final destination. Like the less evocative Tiny Wings, you use gravity to build speed and momentum as you roll around depressions and valleys like an extrasolar AiAi the monkey. There's also a nod to Tribes, in that you can use long steep slopes as a means to lift off and catch some air, then flatten your marble into a Minstrel to drift and glide into the punishing clouds.
As well as the innovative and remarkably accessible flight dynamics, what impresses are the views across the game's desolate alien landscapes, with roiling cloud formations and crackling storms dominating the horizon. One imagines rather than feels crushing pressures outside your ship, as you fight to keep your orb heading in the desired direction, so although the game lacks the necessary sense of danger given the often extreme environmental conditions, it doesn't diminish the wonder. The obvious lack of blasters, however, is something I'll just have to live with.
The demo of Exo One is currently available to download as part of the Steam Game Festival Summer Edition.