Game: Otti the House Keeper
Genre: Puzzle, Strategy
System: Nintendo Switch (also PC)
Developer|Publisher: Maksym Vostruhin| Ultimate Games
Age Rating: EU 7+ | US Teen
Price: US $8.99 | UK £7.19 | EU €8.99
Release Date: January 20th 2021
Review code provided with many thanks to Ultimate Games
Time for Retirement
Otti is a retired thief who has a lot of gold and trouble with a lot of thieves who want to get at it. Since Otti is cursed possibly due to all his misdeeds from the past and it’s up to you as the player to lay traps in various 2D houses to stop the thieves in their tracks and let Otti continue his lonely retirement in peace. The game originally released on PC but now Otti comes to Switch, lets explore how it fairs.
The Perfect Trap
The idea of each level is you need to place a set number of traps in a variety of houses. These include spike traps, falling boxes, spiders, ghosts etc there is a wide variety. The idea of each level is to scare the incoming burglar(s) to death and then move on to the next house which offers a different layout and traps to set. When you are happy with your trap placements you press play and the burglar begins their invasion.
Some of the traps you need to activate as the burglar walks by at the right time. You can also manipulate the burglars path by activating distractions, like a box, causing the burglar to become interested and hopefully fall into one of your traps. It’s an interesting blend of tower and defense and puzzle. Failure is very likely but you can quickly restart the level at the push of a button, move traps around and try again. Perseverance is key and it feels quite satisfying when it all works out. There isn’t really any penalty for failure, making this a title the casual gamer may want to look into. When the level is complete you then play a sort of ‘Where’s Wally?’ mini game by tapping on the hidden treasures hidden round the house. As well as this, some levels have safes which also require you to complete a fun mini game to score more treasure. You can examine your horde of gold in a villa in the main menu which steadily grows as you progress through the game.
The graphics are simple drawn sprites that I have seen in other low budget games before most notably Monster Slayers which I reviewed last year. It doesn’t exactly give the game a unique personality. Instead it reminds me of a lot of doodles I used to draw in my exercise book in school only with a bit more colour. There is some variety in environments from castles to Egyptian crypts. It’s not the most stand out graphical style but its unique gameplay makes up for it. Unfortunately the controls on Switch really let the experience down.
The controls are messy and unpleasant on Switch. The PC version of the game made use of the mouse, making choosing the traps, placing them and activating them quite straight forward. With the Switch you have the choice between touch controls or button presses. Sadly neither control variant feels responsive and easy to use even if you decide to mix and match the two in handheld mode. When using the touch controls I often found myself stabbing the touch screen to try to select items on the screen. I have quite big fingers as well so trying to touch on small items in the game was just a nightmare. When you use buttons the analogue stick sort of acts as the mouse cursor and you then use the shoulder buttons to make trap selections. It works a little better but this system becomes more finicky when you try to delete traps. Here you need to select the delete tab before removing the trap. Neither control scheme feels simple or fun to use and when looking at footage for PC it’s clear the game works much better using a mouse.
I did also encounter a few bugs while playing the game. Some traps like the cactus just didn’t activate when a burglar walked on them. There were also traps that would get stuck on each other particularly boxes. None of this was game breaking but it lead to many frustrations with the only solution appearing to be to work round them.
Try on PC
Otti the House Keeper may not be the biggest looker but its gameplay has some interesting ideas that make for an enjoyable blend of tower and defense and puzzle. Sadly the Otti port to Switch is not as strong as PC. Control issues, both touch and button based, make the experience more frustrating than it should be.
Look at the PC version which seems like it could easily run on most laptops. It also has a free demo on Steam but be careful with the Switch version.
Final Verdict: I’m Not Sure