Review – Space Otter Charlie
I have reviewed a crap ton of games released by The Quantum Astrophysicists Guild in the past. While I did enjoy a few (and disliked even more), one thing is certain: none of them have managed to impress me as truly innovative titles. For as much as I thought Breakpoint was fine, it was far from memorable. Their latest title, the weirdly named Space Otter Charlie, might actually be their turning point. Excluding their original puzzle titles, which were already quite old, this might be their best game released so far.
In Space Otter Charlie, you control a crew of sentient otters trying to start their own space exploration program in a post-apocalyptic reality where humans had long left Earth for better planets in the galaxy. The titular Charlie is the main explorer of the bunch, using his jetpacks and weapons to explore derelict space stations and other kinds of levels to search for fuel and upgrades for his crew’s ship.
Space Otter Charlie is a traditional 2D platformer with a few neat tricks that make it stand out. First of all, considering you’re exploring areas devoid of gravity, you don’t simply jump from platform to platform. Instead, you use your jetpack and the laws of physics to hop from wall to wall until you reach the place you want to go. It feels a bit like the largely unmemorable indie title Dandara. Unlike that game, however, you’re given a lot more freedom of movement. You can use your thrusters to change the direction of your jump in mid-air, for instance. You can also take advantage of the angles of the walls in order to slide through them with lots of style, even if this doesn’t exactly help you that much.
This is all backed by some pretty good level design. Every single map is full of secrets to unveil, as well as some very simple yet fun puzzle solving. This is a pseudo metroidvania, as you can freely move from room to room and explore at your own pace, but levels have a clear beginning and an end, as well as a set objective per level. This is by no means a difficult game and that’s absolutely fine. Combat is also pretty simple, which is indeed a bummer, but considering the major focus on exploration, I didn’t mind this issue that much. Furthermore, the few boss battles scattered throughout your adventure feel more like a small distraction to spice the gameplay up than an actual challenge.
Although its core gameplay loop is pretty good, Space Otter Charlie has a few issues, namely in its presentation. It is obviously a title developed on a small budget which can be noticed in its repetitive backgrounds and an overall “cheap” aesthetic. It also has a forgettable sound design. Both the soundtrack and its sound effects, while not bad, are far from memorable.
You will also get fed up of the pun-infested dialogue right around the end of the first chapter of the game. There’s just so much you can do by replacing “oughta” and “other” with the word “other”. Not to mention characters thinking Charlie is everything but an actual otter, ranging from a rodent to a meerkat.
Issues aside, Space Otter Charlie is a fun little title whose main gameplay gimmick is strong enough to keep you entertained until the very end of its duration. It’s a simple game, devoid of hard puzzles or meaningful combat, but charming enough to warrant a purchase. Just try to ignore the unfunny dialogue and the amount of puns scattered throughout the whole game.
Cute character designs and animations make up for uninteresting backgrounds and an overall “cheap” aesthetic.
Using zero gravity and inertia to move around the level and solve simple puzzles results in some neat puzzles and interesting level design. Its “combat mechanics” if you can even call them that, are the game’s biggest letdown, at least gameplay-wise.
Space Otter Charlie‘s soundtrack is far from memorable, but it’s far from being considered bad either. Its sound effects are few and far between. This is the kind of game you’ll barely be able to remember its sound design once you stop playing it.
Fun Factor: 7.5
Space Otter Charlie features some decent level design, pseudo metroidvania progression system and an interesting control scheme. Those more than make up for its technical shortcomings and pun-infested script.
Final Verdict: 7.5
Space Otter Charlie is available now on PS4, Xbox One, PC, and Switch.
Reviewed on PC.
A copy of Space Otter Charlie was provided by the publisher.