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Game Info:

The Otterman Empire
Developed By: Tri-Heart Interactive
Published By: Tri-Heart Interactive
Released: July 2, 2020
Available On: Microsoft Windows, Nintendo Switch, Xbox One
Genre: Party, Action, Multiplayer, Arcade
ESRB Rating: E10+ (Fantasy Violence)
Number of Players: Singleplayer, Multiplayer
Price: $24.99

I'd like to thank Tri-Heart Interactive for the review key for this title.

When you have a bunch of friends you want to game with, you usually want a game that's quick to jump into that can quickly immerse you all in an intense yet casual experience. The Otterman Empire is a game that attempts to capture this formula in a single/multiplayer party shooter, but with some checkered results.

The plot is simple: A mad scientist named Tiko is messing up things in the titular empire in a galaxy far, far away, and it's up to a brave anthropomorphic otter named Astrid (who appears male despite the name) to stop him. Along the way, he recruits friends from other humanoid animals who want to prevent the Otterman Empire from becoming Tiko's personal playground for his robot armies.

The gameplay is based on the run-and-gun 3D platform shooter model, in which one must navigate hazards and dodge enemies in 3D while firing back at the same. Whether using a keyboard/mouse or a PC gamepad, both require jumping and shooting within the various levels. If playing in multiplayer, a game controller of some sort is a requirement.

Being a game with a built-in multiplayer aspect, it's designed for multiple players, though it has a full single-player campaign. The campaign consists of weathering the various traps and devices Tiko has set to bog you down and to sabotage his forces, earning enough star points to advance further. The multiplayer allows the players to challenge each other in a versus mode or the campaign can be done in cooperative mode. There is also a split-screen mode for local play on the same monitor in the same room.

The Otterman Empire
Highlights:

Strong Points: Good art and music
Weak Points: Floaty controls; Lopsided AI; odd control scheme choices
Moral Warnings: Mild cartoony violence

The difficulty is slightly on the hard side in single-player, as one can die easily and be forced to respawn in seconds thanks to the nigh-omnipotent AI zeroing in on you ASAP. Given the game seems to be biased more for multiplayer, this is not too unreasonable, but single-player is not very fun as a result.

Your weapons and equipment include guns that are essentially superpowered water pistols and a jetpack that is powered by water streams, which is why to replenish ammo and jetpack fuel you occasionally need to dive into water sources. Since there are multiple characters, some of them have custom attacks, like Astrid's drone gun he can deploy to take some of the heat off himself for awhile. You can also unlock skins for your characters during play as you beat levels.

Graphically, the art is very colorful and vibrant. The overall theme is "futuristic cartoony", which the various game settings reflect. The character models are quite distinct, and unless you are colorblind, there should not be any problems distinguishing any of the backdrops and set pieces.

Sound also has a futuristic cartoony take, with a slight infusion of Saturday morning heroic underpinning the level themes. Given Tiko's schemes are right out of those type of cartoons and you are trying to stop him, this fits like a glove. Sound effects are in the same vein and none are unpleasant to the ear. There are hardly any voiceovers, though Tiko does have a very cheesy evil laugh I found rather amusing.

Controls use the keyboard/mouse and/or a game controller. While both work well, it's recommended the player use the controller given the fast-paced action is more conducive to one. The game includes a tutorial that is adequate to acquaint the player with the controls and can be selected if and when needed later, as it's automatic the first time you play. Some of the buttons are a bit unintuitive on the keyboard especially, which forces you to hold down the delete key to return to menus at the end of stages. The overall controls feel rather floaty and turning quickly is not easy, which can be frustrating, especially playing in single-player.

The Otterman Empire
Score Breakdown:
Higher is better
(10/10 is perfect)

Game Score - 72%
Gameplay - 13/20
Graphics - 8/10
Sound - 8/10
Stability - 4/5
Controls - 3/5

Morality Score - 96%
Violence - 8/10
Language - 10/10
Sexual Content - 10/10
Occult/Supernatural - 10/10
Cultural/Moral/Ethical - 10/10

Stability is generally good and performance is acceptable for a title using the Unreal Engine, though pause times are a bit long and intermissions cannot be skipped at all, which can get a bit annoying. The game does not allow easy exit from mid-play sessions in stages, so if you want to take a break, you have to ALT+TAB out and shut things down the hard way.

Morally, this is a pretty clean title.

Violence is at worst directed at robots and non-living beings, and your weapons are oversized water guns. All other violence is slapstick cartoon level at best. All things that die are robotic in very cartoony explosions and your character never dies, they just disappear for a few seconds and respawn if they lose all their health.

Language and sexual content are pretty absent, so this would not be something I'd be afraid to show a young child on those grounds. It's explicitly set in a cartoony soft sci-fi universe, so there is no occult or supernatural content of note as well. Ethically speaking, you are defending a peaceful space power against a malevolent interloper spreading chaos in an attempt to bring him to justice, with the apparent sanction of the authority of said government, so you are on the side of the good guys.

As a game, I did love the art and music direction, but the floaty controls, difficulty issues, and odd control decisions made it hard to get into. Morally, this is a pretty tame game assuming you have some friends to play it with, and even single-player is pretty tame as well. I'd think twice about getting this due to the flaws I mentioned, but if you're desperate for a family-friendly party shooter game, it's not the worst one on the market.

About the Author

Daniel Cullen

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Christ Centered Gamer looks at video games from two view points. We analyze games on a secular level which will break down a game based on its graphics, sound, stability and overall gaming experience. If you’re concerned about the family friendliness of a game, we have a separate moral score which looks at violence, language, sexual content, occult references and other ethical issues.

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