Game: The Otterman Empire
Genre: Party, Arcade, Action
System: Nintendo Switch (also on PC and PS4 and Xbox one)
Developer|Publisher: Tri-Heart Interactive
Age Rating: EU 3+ | US everyone
Price: UK £19.99 | EU € 22,99 | AUD $33.30 | CAD $36.74 | USD $25.99
Release Date: 2nd July 2020
Review code provided with many thanks to Tri-Interactive
The Otters are Coming
The Otterman Empire is a video game featuring Otters one of the greatest animal species on the planet (in my humble opinion). Not to be confused with a powerful Turkish Empire in the 15th and 16th Century, that’s a whole different kind of empire. However, if this encourages you to look up the history then I consider that a win. No, the Otterman Empire is significantly more family friendly. Despite years of video game history otters seem to rarely feature in video games. Even when they do they tend to be just vague references and playing an actual otter is generally unheard of in gaming. 2020 though seems to be the year of the otter renaissance in gaming and the Ottermen Empire is the first game out the gate. Will it be the start of the otter revolution in gaming? Lets find out.
Get the Team Back Together
The game plays like a third person shooter. You play each stage in a 3D enviroment with an objective to complete within a set time limit. The missions vary, from dropping bombs into portals to building otter robots. By finishing these objectives you gain points, which tally up to a star rating of up to three. Defeating enemies adds to your points tally so just going only for the objective is not always wise. If you find time you can also explore the level and break open crates which will unlock new cosmetics to dress your character in.
You initially play as Astrid who is tasked with defeating the evil otter Tiko. After a brief tutorial level Astrid finds out she needs a little extra help to take down Tiko. Astrid then travels across multiple levels with various challenges finding new friends to help take down Tiko in a final epic showdown. The story is very simple and feels more like a cheesy otter based Saturday morning cartoon since Tiko has quite the evil laugh. The design of all the various playable characters is unique and cheerful. I instantly took a liking to all the characters from Geo the Giant Otter, with his shark looking rocket launcher, to Noah the sniper otter with a colander on his head. Lyra was a particular favourite as her constant smile just seemed to rub off on me. Even if your not the biggest otter fan there are also three non otter characters to unlock.
The character designs are great, I was impressed by the tail animations of each of the otters which is a small detail that some may miss. Levels are set across a variety of environments, from cities to water parks. There’s a notable pop in with the graphics from time to time however and the textures sometimes look a little messy and rough around the edges. Maybe it was the cute character designs but I was able to see past these and enjoy the game regardless. The enemies are all robots, some easier to take out than others. There’s pretty much no violence in this game making this suitable for the whole family. After all, the weapons are essentially cool looking water pistols. I’m still trying to wrap my head around how a water sniper rifle works but its all part of the charming fun of the Otterman Empire.
Each character has their own weapon and special ability to help overcome the challenges ahead. Astrid is a good all rounder with her dual pistols and the ability to call a gun turret once your special meter charges. When you’ve unlocked more characters you will soon find your own favourite. Additionally you can make use of a handy jet pack to propel you into the air and get around the map quickly. Ammo for your weapons and the jet pack fuel is all powered by water. It doesn’t take long before you need to take a brief dip in one of the many water streams dotted about the level to resupply.
The style feels like a cross between Mario Sunshine and Splatoon only with Otters. The controls are a little slippery and take a bit of getting used to. But once I got the hang of it, it was fun blasting around the level and doing a cool little dive based move to avoid enemy attacks. This game features up to 4 player split screen co op which is where things really came alive. With more players it’s easier to strategise how to tackle the challenges. Certain characters like Lyra, who has a healing ability, also work better when played in co op. The formula generally being to have one player accomplish the objective, while the other takes out the barrage of enemies.
Some Flaws you Otter Know
While the game is fun in concept, it’s hard to ignore some of its obvious flaws. First up all the levels are challenges with the typically mobile 3 star model. In order to progress in the game you need to collect a certain number of stars, which may require you to replay levels over and over. With that in mind the game is quite short. There are seven stages with three challenges each, then a final boss fight which was a ton of fun to play but it just felt over too soon. The challenges also have a strict time limit and are over really quickly. Some form of casual mode to help beginners get more used to the level mechanics would have helped more people enjoy this game.
I couldn’t help dream about what this game could be. With the fun gameplay, the jet packs and swimming in water I pinned for a full blow 3D platformer with a bigger story and massive worlds to explore. Unfortunately game development is very expensive and the development team here clearly put a lot of passion into this project with limited resources. One hopes this game is a stepping stone to bigger projects down the road. Staring otters still – of course.
An Otter Good Time
The Otterman Empire will not be everyone’s cup of tea/coffee. If you’re able to look past some rough textures and gameplay hiccups there’s something quite special here to enjoy alone or with some friends. It has one major accolade to its name – its easily the best otter game available on Switch!
Final Verdict: I like it
This review is dedicated to our adopted Otter Loki. Loki was an orphaned otter pup and who is sadly blind. But thanks to dedicated charities like UK Wild Otter Trust (UKWOT) Loki will have a happy life in captivity. Whether your an otter lover, animal lover or supporter of any charity be sure to keep supporting them as best you can particularly in these difficult times.