- Developer: Wayward Distractions
- Publisher: The Quantum Astrophysicists Guild
- Release Date: 18/03/2021
- Price: £10.99 / $14.99
- Review code provided by The Quantum Astrophysicists Guild
- Version reviewed: 1.0.0
Introducing: Space Otter Charlie Switch Review
A word of warning right in the beginning: If you have a problem with bad otter puns, you might want to skip over our Space Otter Charlie Switch review. But then, why would you be reading a review about a puzzle platformer with space faring otters anyway. That said, here be otters. You have been warned!
In the early 2500s, mankind left earth in search for a fresh planet to lay waste to, leaving behind the blue planet in ruins. Living on the ever hotter planet was getting worse from day to day, so the sea otters set out to use all the junk humans had left them to build a rocket and find a new home. Let’s not talk about missions one and two, but focus on mission #3. The rocket is ottered by Ada (navigation), Jesse (words of encouragement and tinkering) and Charlie (you, doing all the rest). Without fuel, without a map, but with lots of hope and determination you set out to find a new place to live.
Get the hell otter earth!
The game has two modes: The sea urchingly meaty story mode and the all claws blazing local multiplayer. Let’s start with the story mode! Having left earth, you’ll work your way through different space stations and laboratories. It’s basically like this: You enter a location and try to find the map. Knowing the place like the back of your cute little paw is a necessary condition for survival. Then you take care of your mission objectives like finding fuel or accessing a certain room in the lab.
Sound easy? Well, you try to navigate in zero-g, then! You’re only able to jump and then float. A jetpack allows you to steer your course a bit, but needs to be replenished by staying attached to a wall or other structure for a while. Don’t stay sitting like a duck, though, as the various enemies populating the levels might want to pay a visit. Most of them were created by humans and are otterly stupid as a result: They incorrectly identify you as a rodent and want to exterminate you. Also keep in mind that some parts of the levels are locked–some with more than one key–and some rooms are hidden and must be found first. Then there’s debris floating around, traps and lasers all designed to zapp you into otter fry and last, but not least, hungry aliens snapping at you. Best all that and return to your ship, the RAFT, to take a break before setting out again.
During this linear story with side locations you’ll find crafting materials, energy, blueprints, collectibles (otter facts, story hints, etc …) and directions to new locations. You need crafting materials and blueprints to build or upgrade your gear. At the start you’re limited to a small jetpack and a weak laser gun. The jetpack allows you to navigate through space in zero-g, but has a very limited thrust. Upgrade it to make the thrust last longer. Create better weapons to defend yourself and build different space suits not just as adorable eye candy, but also because each of the other suits offers you a special weapon. Also, you know you want to look otterly cute, right? An otter in a shark suit! But I digress…
The energy you collect in the levels will let you recruit settlers from earth to accompany you on your voyage. There are some quirky characters there. The collectibles are nice to get and sometimes hard to collect as well. But your main mission is to find a new home in otter space. Succeed and enjoy the credits rolling. Otterly fascinating!
Let’s turn our attention to the local multiplayer gameplay. There are two modes available: So Urchin and Furry Fury. So Urchin lets two to four space otters compete about gobbling down their favourite food: sea urchins. He (or she) who gobbles down more than their opponents wins! The catch: There is only one sea urchin in the stage at any one time, so use all available methods to get it. Turn on traps, shoot your fellow otters, feeding frenzy!
Furry Fury is your little battle royal in space. Otterly destroy your opponents. By any means possible! Both multiplayer variants offer customization options to fine-tune the matches to your linking. You have several multiplayer stages available, too, so the fun never gets old. While multiplayer is limited to whoever is sitting next to you, it is a tremendous part of the game and kept both me and my daughters entertained considerably.
The first thing you notice about Space Otter Charlie is the cute comic book artstyle. It’s clear and colourful and admirably cute. There’s a humour in the design that’s really fitting to both the story itself and the tongue-in-cheek telling of it. Make no mistake, though, because even if the presentation of the game is cute, it can be harsh and demanding at times. At these times, the cuteness might feel at odds with the grim reality of your otter getting zapped (happened sometimes) or burned (happened more often than I care to admit). However in the end you’ll overcome those difficulties and can bask in cuteness again.
In space no one can hear you crunch sea urchins, but you can still do it while listening to a soundtrack that feels right at home out there. It sets the eerie mood in the levels and helps you feel small and alone (well, apart from a sizeable number of enemies). The multiplayer part features a different and more upbeat techno soundtrack that suits the frenzy well. Listening to the sound effects is satisfactory, too. The crunches are crunchy, the lasers zapp and the sound of static electricity would make my hair stand on end if I had any.
You otter know!
So, all’s well in space? Well, not quite. While the game plays well both docked and handheld, it was prone to some stuttering when lots of stuff was going on. Not a real problem, as this happened rather rarely. What was more annoying were the two freezes I experienced: One during a conversation scene in the story mode, one while selecting suits for multiplayer. Both times no progress was lost, but it was irritating nonetheless.
I’m otterly convinced by this game. Normally, the platforming games I like are few and far between, but Space Otter Charlie is both refreshing and rewarding enough that I immediately fell in love with it. Thus concludes my Space Otter Charlie Switch review.
- zero-g navigation (not your run-off-the-mill run & gun game)
- meaty single player campaign
- wonderful local multiplayer
- just the right size (10-15 hours)
- Some Levels are Absurdly Hard (still not like Cuphead)
- Occasionally Freezes
- A Bit Short