The Otterman Empire Review(Switch)
You. You. You. Otter knowwww!
The Otterman Empire is a team based arena shooter that is developed and published by Tri-Heart Interactive. Take control of a team of heroes to keep your cities safe from evil doers who seek to do nothing but reek havoc. Does the game deliver on its promise of being a brand new team based shooter you must own? Or does it fall away to the Otter side of the spectrum. Find out!
Evil has reared its ugly head across the galaxy with the mastermind Tiko throwing his weight and power around. But it is now up to you and the rest of your friends to step up to the plate and take him down. Travel across the galaxy as you fight to protect the innocent and rid the world of these dangers forever.
The Otterman Empire is both a single player and multiplayer third person arena shooter that takes heavy inspiration from franchise such as Splatoon. In Otterman, your main ways of attack have you utilize water in order to take down your enemies,much like in splatoon where you utilize your ink,same concept works here. When you deplete your ''ammo'', you will need to find another source of water to refill your currently equipped gun or your water jet pack used to fly for short distances. But while that may sound enticing right off the bat, I mean hell, who doesn't think that sounds cool? Otters,super soakers, jet packs, amazing,right? Well kinda..we'll get to that.
In Otterman you have single player and multiplayer mode,with single player consisting of a 2 hour story and multiplayer consisting of a versus mode that you can use for local couch co op for 1-4 players at a time,but neither are without their fair share of issues. In story mode you're treated to a handful of cutscenes with very little to no dialogue presented to you by any of the characters. But you still get the gist of what is going on anyways in the story,even if it means very little. However, its with the actual content presented in the story mode itself that raises some eyebrows.
Calling the solo mode a story mode is being pretty generous as there is very little story involved. In this mode you're tasked with going around the galaxy to 8 different areas and completing various tasks. For instance some tasks might be as simple as killing a set amount of enemies across the map or being tasked to find a specific item somewhere in the map and taking it from point A to point B. That in itself wouldn't be much of an issue, but in this case it tends to get very repetitive as the multiple objectives you get per map,which is 3, do not vary that much from each other.
Each map you go through will add a different environment so you will never feel like you're playing the same level over and over again but just with a new skin, each one feels unique from each other and involves a new location. One minute you can be running along a sandy beach fighting hordes of enemies and kicking back on the beach, but the very next level you can be caught up in a futuristic looking city and find new ways to use the environment to your advantage. This is where the game succeeded in its story mode, good variety of levels and their overall design is pretty great,however where they got one thing right, they completely dropped the ball in other categories.
As I stated earlier your main form of attacking your enemies in this game is via water guns and jet packs and while I mentioned that at its foundation that's a really cool concept, its execution is weighed down by some level design missteps. Each of the 8 maps are decent in their own size,but they all have one fatal flaw that hinders each one of them, and that is the lack of water sources. You see, water sources are your life line in this game to refuel and get more ammo, but sometimes they feel scarce and spread too far apart from one another that it gets to the point where there feels like there just isn't enough of them. Not a game killer but it does seem like a slight oversight.
The enemy variety is also very lacking in the solo mode with a lot of enemies repeating or enemies that offer no real challenge to you other than to just slow you down without doing any real damage to you in the process. Most enemies due to their AI will not move around and will remain stationary until you get right up on them, and even then sometimes they will not react right away. It makes it feel like after 30 minutes of playing the game that you've seen everything it has to offer you already, but is that true? well yes and no.
The reason why I gave a half yes and no answer to that question is because,yes, after 30 minutes it does feel like you've seen everything the game has to offer,but I also say no because there is a progression system that rewards you for completing a level and its tasks in a specific way. This system of progression is the star system,which is similar to what other games have done in the past and it's based off how fast you beat a level or how many tasks you complete in a specific level. Completing a stage without beating certain tasks will net you the lowest of amount of stars, but completing all your tasks give you the most amount of stars, super hard to follow,right?. Basically the too long didn't read version of this is, more stars good,less stars bad, because the more stars you get, the more levels you unlock by gaining an x amount of them per level. It's something to hold your attention and keep you invested in a time where the game might get repetitive, but not quite enough to make you jump for joy.
Oh boy this is where things can get a little dicey. Otterman is a local multiplayer game for couch co op only and this is where the game gets hurt a lot. In multiplayer, you can enter the versus mode of the game that allows up to 4 players to fight across 8 different maps that you've seen in the main story mode of the game. But the hindrance that comes in this mode makes it seem like having any less than 4 players at a time can make the experience feel very cumbersome due to the fact that map themselves are decently sized. Meaning if you're playing a 1v1 match against a friend, most of the time you're stuck wandering around trying to find them rather than having fun and fighting it out. I think a way they could've worked around this flaw was adding in some random enemies for when its a 1v1 fight just as a way to spice it up and give players something extra to do while they look for each other. It would've presented a great chance to be a jerk and attack someone while they're preoccupied with an enemy npc.
The good news however is you get multiple characters to choose from and each one of them having their own weapon variations, all of which you are able to customize,albeit in a very limited fashion. Every character you get to choose from looks different from each other in their design and style, so you always feel unique compared to another character. It makes you always feel like its a tailor made experience that you yourself wanted it to be. But with that in mind, the multiplayer does tend to leave you a tad bit confused when it comes to the way its rules are set up.
Otterman's multiplayer mode runs off a set number of rounds that you and your friends will have to play,all of which you are able to set specific number of objectives for in each match that you and your friends will fight to complete. But you wouldn't know any of this unless you tinkered around with it yourself for awhile and figured it out because the game does not tell you this or explain anything to you. It just kinda drops you in there and is like ''hey figure it out man, you otter know how to play by now right?''. The only real thing that keeps you on your toes during a multiplayer session are the environment hazards.
Every now and then while you're fighting it out with your buddy or buddies, some weird environment hazards will make its presence known across the map and attack anyone that's in its way. Each hazard varies from a large beam of light,almost like a laser that moves across the map, to a giant tidal wave that damages anyone it its way. These can be small little distractions if you find yourself getting bored, but it doesn't totally fix the issues I talked about. More variety and content is definitely needed in future updates for this game to give it more of an identity.
Graphically I really like Otterman. While it needs some polish to clean off some of its rough edges, overall I feel the art design they went with is really appealing and very colorful. It compliments the overall concept of the game itself and that to me is very important. The main issue to me though is the frame rate, it tends to dip in various levels. In some area's when a lot of action is taking place, the frame rate at times can drop to what feels like lower double digits,which makes the game stutter and in some cases will cause it to crash your game entirely. Having said that, I do want to clarify, this isn't every level, when it does happen its annoying but overall it will not completely hinder your experience of the game entirely.
Overall my final thoughts come away pretty disappointed in the final product. While I actually love the concept behind what was presented here with Otters and friends fighting it out via water flights,moving around on jet packs, it just comes up short in so much more than it actually gets right. At its core to me Otterman feels like a game that I 'want' to love because overall it's a fantastic idea. But with lack of content for multiplayer,no online,frame rate issues,lack of enemy variety,confusing versus mode and lackluster story mode, I can not warrant saying this game needs to be played in the state its in right now,especially for its price tag.
Over time if developers fix the issues via patches and dlc, I could definitely say give this one a look, but at this point in time, I'll just have to say you Otter just sit back and wait for it to hit $10 when it goes on a sale eventually.
The Otterman Empire is out now on Nintendo Switch,Xbox One and PC
*Review code provided by Tri-Heart Interactive.