It is often the case when a ground breaking or popular game arrives on the scene, often it does not take very long for a line of ‘inspired’ and similar games to arrive on the scene. Now some are just straight off clones of the original big hitter but in some cases a few can actually take the original and add something different to create another masterpiece. Albert & Otto is a game very much inspired by Limbo, but can it do enough to make its own mark or just another clone to be forgotten?
Albert & Otto is set in 1939 Germany with Albert the main playable character in the game. Albert’s sister Anna has been taken and so Albert goes in search of her through a harsh journey filled with peril, traps and dangerous hazards but with an interesting twist to the gameplay I actually came to enjoy but will come to that a bit later. The art style is completely inspired or more to say ‘lifted’ right from Limbo with the colour pallet using Black, white and grey to create the environments that Albert must navigate. It is striking as it was in Limbo but it does lack the finesse that Limbo had with it.
So it also uses the same environmental hazards as limbo with Albert having to jump gaps often to progress or just to avoid spikes and traps, failing to do so will result in Albert brutal death and subsequent respawn. Objects can be moved to help solve puzzles or to reach high platforms with the puzzles increasing in scale the further into the game you go. Where it does differ from Limbo is that Albert is not completely defenseless thanks to the bolt action rifle he has instead of a right arm, which is aimed using the right stick with RT to fire. This is very handy when dealing with the nasty over-sized crows which at times like to swoop down and grab Albert if the player fails to shoot them first. Further in the rifle can also be used to shoot down new platforms or objects to help solve a puzzle.
Perhaps the real interesting mechanic whom I eluded too earlier comes in the form of Otto, the bright red bunny eared soft toy which belonged to Anna but was somehow lost during her capture. Once Otto is collected it begins to enhance what Albert is capable of doing by immediately giving him the ability to double jump which will come in very handy for puzzle solving and exploring. Otto is linked to the left bumper button which allows Albert to drop Otto to be used as a counter weight for the many pressure plate switches that make up the majority of puzzle solutions in the game. Now once Otto has been dropped it will mean that Albert loses the ability to double jump, something to bear in mind when he is not with you but pressing LB again nearby will call Otto back to him. Later a second special ability will be given to Albert which allows him to ‘force lift’ objects for the more advanced puzzle solving and again, dropping Otto will remove this ability for that time.
Now sadly I do have quite a few problems with this title, some found during play and some discovered after completing it. First off it must be said that this can be completed in just 2 hours even with struggling at points. For the asking price of £9.59 that is still quite a lot of money for what boils down to an imperfect clone of Limbo which suffers from a clumsy control system and in game bugs. Looking at the replay value, once you have solved the puzzles and know how to complete the boss sequences, this can be finished in just an hour. That for me is very little for that price. Now this is supposed to be a three part episodic game with this serving as the first game, something I noticed from the insanely quick single second on screen ‘To Be Continued’ at the end of the game. But sadly the next episodes have no release date due to depending on the success of this episode to confirm their development which this price only gives you this one episode, so a tenner for just 2 maybe 3 hours at most is very off putting.
Then you have the bugs that at times can cripple the gameplay such as the aiming for the rifle on the right stick getting stuck in an up angle or the pressure plates not responding to the weight placed on them. The only way to resolve this was to head to the main menu then selecting resume to reload the game which can be very frustrating if you have spent some time solving a puzzle section. The input lag for jumping can be the biggest headache though, with many cheap deaths coming as a result of my inputs not being registered by the game which became even more annoying in the later stages when you have to do cm perfect jumping as well as positioning Otto onto a switch mid jump. It just cheapens the overall experience which when combined with the shortness of the game and potential lack of future for it just puts this on the ‘good idea but poorly executed’ list to start the year.
The above is a real shame because Albert & Otto has some true potential if it gets the chance to continue with the planned next episodes to continue the story. I do like the art style and really like the idea of how Otto adds to Albert’s abilities and the imagery conjured up via the photographs left behind by Anna which tell a bleak story of what is happening to her does push the player to get to the end to try and find her. But there is just not enough here to really make you play it more than once or perhaps twice if you want to collect all the achievements, which can be done in a single or two at most runs through the game.
Sadly potential is just not enough to make this a must have and certainly not at the asking price or lack of future for it meaning after investing in this you may not actually get to see how it all ends. The bugs and issues can be addressed going forward but even if they are and it becomes more polished to play, two hours of gameplay for £10 is not something I can sit comfortably with. I hope there is a future for Albert & Otto but it is looking rather bleak just as it is for Anna!