[PlayStation 4] Space Otter Charlie Review
Space Otter Charlie from The Quantum Astrophysics Guild and Wayward Distractions is a 2D puzzle platformer out now on PS4. Check our Space Otter Charlie review!
Did you know: “Sea otters are really cute and that’s a fact”? Wayward Distractions really wanted you to know this in what can only be described as “otter propaganda.” A message they seem to feel so strongly about they chose to make a game about it. In what is best described as a Zero-G puzzle platformer, publisher The Quantum Astrophysicists Guild has clearly been hired by a group of otters to make a cutesy otter-themed game to garner publicity. But is it enough to hide the fact that otters are a menace to the sea urchin and crab societies?
The short answer is, “yes, this is a solidly put-together piece of propaganda game.” Otters can feel confident that their money has been well spent. But what is in this “Otter Facts” packed game? Well, supposedly in the early 2500s, after nearly destroying the Earth due to pollution, humans straight up leave the planet to expand their reach into the stars, leaving the wildlife of Earth to fend for itself. Fast forward a few bouts of evolution, and most sea life has eventually gained sentience and intelligence. With otters at the forefront, the sea life of Earth decides they too should venture into the stars, with Space Otter Charlie at the forefront of their expeditions.
So how does the game work? Well, just like Mordor, one does not simply walk into Space Otter Charlie. You’ll be holding down the X button to make Charlie use its limited thrusters to fly around the game’s locations by using the left analog stick to aim. The Squarer button can then be used to fire Charlie’s weapons as you aim with the right analog stick, as inertia carries Charlie around. The controls are easy to wrap your head around once you get into the swing of things, but in the heat of battle, they can feel a bit cumbersome. Though rare, Charlie can sometimes find himself flying off in the wrong direction outside of your control, resulting in some cheap deaths.
With that said, a majority of the game is mostly positive. The art style is a great plus, with a huge amount of care and attention going into the presentation and the feel of the game. Special mention goes to the level design. Each world, space station, or asteroid belt feels unique and well put together, with no level ever feeling like a rehash of something that you have previously experienced in another area. For a game that can really be completed in one go in around four hours, the pacing feels excellent with every level leaving you with a sense of pride and accomplishment as Charlie seems to unlock something new either halfway through or at the end of each level.
The environmental puzzles feel excellently thought out, with combat encounters feeling like puzzles in their own right, especially some of the bosses! At no point did the game waver from being anything but a delight with each discovery supplanting each one in terms of wonderment. In summary, the game has a surprise mechanic or discovery at the end of every corridor, and each one is a joy to behold. The sound design is strong as well. Whilst the soundtrack is limited, it does a good job of highlighting each segment. Not all of it was perfect when played on a regular PlayStation 4. The game did experience some slow down issues from time to time, especially during the last level, where parts of it came to a crawl due to an overly busy screen. That being said, slow down issues were limited to specific points, so this was not enough to ruin what is a great experience.
In conclusion, Space Otter Charlie is a shining example of how a game with a small budget should be put together. The game does not feel bloated with unnecessary filler, nor does it feel as if it wants to waste your time. The otter puns are mostly bad, but they’re wrapped in a game filled with such reverence to the subject matter, the genre, its presentation, and, especially, the player’s time. It’s hard to feel any sense of loathing towards such a delightful game. If puzzle platformers are your thing, then the asking price of this game makes it an easy one to recommend.
This Space Otter Charlie review is based on a PlayStation 4 copy provided by The Quantum Astrophysics Guild.