ReviewsReview: Space Otter Charlie

Review: Space Otter Charlie

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When people think of animals in space, I’m sure their first thoughts go to Laika the dog, or Albert II, the first space primate. I doubt very much that anyone would consider the possibility of an otter making it to space. Well, now you must as Charlie the once “normal” otter gets his chance to put on a space suit and take a trip to the stars. Space Otter Charlie is a colourful, comedy laced puzzle game that will have you laughing, screaming and coming back for more.

Developed by Wayward Distractions and published by The Quantum Astrophysicists Guild, this outer world puzzle game takes you on a trip across the galaxy. Charlie the hero and his crew attempt to work out where the humans have gone, and why they were left behind. A title of relatively low difficulty, it can be enjoyed by gamers of all skill sets, and is aimed towards a family-friendly audience.

Space Otter Charlie will test you and keep you smiling.

Space Otter Charlie is a single-player game at its core, but Wayward Distractions added in a local multiplayer mode to keep friends and family happy. It’s a nice addition, and acts as a welcome distraction from the challenges of lone space travel. Both modes use the same core principles, and are easy to pick up, with the focus being aimed towards fun rather than a Dark Souls style difficulty. Charlie the cute Otternaut must venture deep into space, visiting a mixture of; labs, space stations and other random locations. Each stage is compact and has a limited number of objectives to complete, making it simple to play casually and when you have limited time.

The story begins with all humans abandoning the Earth, the planet they once called home is ruined and is slowly cooking itself dry. Humanity has left untold amounts of creatures behind, and at first they enjoyed their new found freedom, but then the heat got too much for them. They were sweating their fur off and something had to be done. Luckily for the remaining creatures, the otters understand astrophysics, and advanced engineering (not absurd in the slightest). After many failed attempts, the scientists launch a rocket with 3 brave otters inside. One of them is Charlie, and thus his adventure begins.

Super otter!

A simple premise with in-depth gameplay.

The brilliance of Space Otter Charlie is its simple approach. The main concept is well explained from the off, and once you play the first level, you know what to expect for the rest of the game. This doesn’t mean that it’s bland, or a walk in the park. No, it simply sets out what you need to do, and builds from there. Charlie wears a set of magnetic space boots, these allow him to land and stick to surfaces. His task then is to leap from location to location by hitting walls and platforms, or by floating around using his jetpack. He’s armed with a laser weapon at first, and then further guns are added to his arsenal. Many upgrades to his equipment are found en route, and new blueprints for different tech can be found in the many levels you search.

This evolving gameplay ensures that the game has real depth to it and prevents it from feeling too repetitive. The choice of weapons at your disposal allows you to choose how you wish to take on each of the stages. You can go face to face with your foes, shooting them with lasers and missiles. Alternatively, you can use a beam that bounces off surfaces and sneakily take down your enemy from afar. As well as the space creatures you find, you must overcome traps, power switches and unlock doors.

These additional elements of the map feel very traditional in their design. Gamers who are well versed in this genre will feel instantly at home with these mechanics. I enjoyed the level of difficulty that accompanied these traps as they required a small amount of planning to progress. The balance of challenge was well thought out, and will keep veteran players interested from start to finish.

Space Otter Charlie is all about the collectables.

Though the key focus is the puzzle element, collectables form a massive part of the gameplay from the off. A large variety of resources can be found on your journey; energy, metal parts, crystals, fabrics and more. This excludes the mission objective items such as; the stage map, fuel, matter-crystals and more. Each object forms components that must be used to improve or make your equipment. You must decide whether to increase your; shield, jetpack fuel or weapons. You are also free to improve the suit that you are wearing, after all, who wants a boring space suit when you can have; a pink glittery outfit, a shark costume, and more.

What are you looking at? Never seen an otter in a shark costume?

Though Charlie is looking for a new home, he must also rescue as many friends as he can from Earth. This is where the energy come into play. The more you collect, the more animals you can beam to your ship. They add little to the gameplay, but I enjoyed the challenge of collecting as much energy as I could. After all, space is lonely! What’s the point in finding a new home if you don’t have friends to share it with?

Bright, colourful and beautifully designed.

I love it when a developer spends loads of time and effort into making its game look great. Wayward Distractions have created a beautiful game to look at. Each stage looks similar, but they all have distinct character models and traps to overcome. Each is well designed, easy to navigate and fun to explore. The enemies are unique and all have a nice extraterrestrial appearance. This combined with the amusing and well presented cutscenes made the gameplay flow nicely from level to level.

The Sci-Fi portion of the game is exposed in the metallic and futuristic audio. The classic and almost clichéd approach worked brilliantly alongside the rest of the gameplay. The airy music accompanies everything that you do and takes a back seat compared to the other elements. The softness of the music is overpowered by the volume and crass nature of the sound effects. Crashes from explosions, the shrill screech of lasers being fired, and the whoosh of the jetpack being powered all play a key part in telling the story.

Bless those scientific otters.

Physics based games can challenge!

Family-friendly and physics based games rarely go together. There are a few exceptions, but mostly they are a tricky beast to handle and can frustrate from start to finish. Space Otter Charlie stands out as an easy game to control. The in-depth tutorial explains everything that you need to know. Though the difficulty increases during the latter stages, you have had enough time to master the controls that the higher challenge is welcome and doesn’t cause any issues. It works perfectly with a gaming pad, and I experienced no input lag or mapping issues. The developers have done well to create a straightforward approach for this fun-filled game.

With many collectables to find, such as; the aforementioned resources and otter based fun facts. There is plenty to make you keep returning to play. Stages contain secret areas that are hard to find, and the moderate achievement list will keep you busy for some time. Chuck in the local multiplayer option that contains 2 game modes, and you have many reasons to keep playing. It’ll take around 5 hours to complete, which is unfortunately short, but at £10 it still proves to be good value for money.

Is this journey to space worth it?

Space Otter Charlie is a title that gets under your skin. Once you play, you will want to keep going until you’ve explored every station and rescued each of his friends. With witty otter based puns, excellent audio and well designed visuals, this is a game that will make you smile from ear to ear. It’s family-friendly approach is a bonus, and I recommend you buy it here! Mankind has ruined the Earth for themselves and for every living being. We can run away and find another planet, but the fate of those left behind lies on the shoulders of one heroic otter. Can you find the animals a new place to live? Will you survive the many bizarre ordeals you’ll face? Grab your space suit, jump in your rocket and let the adventure begin.

SUMMARY

Space Otter Charlie is a fantastic family-friendly puzzle title that will make you smile throughout. A fun multiplayer mode allows you a break away from the solo action. A well balanced difficulty keeps it interesting and ensures that it doesn't become too challenging. Lovely graphics, excellent audio and well thought out controls make this a joy to play.

+ Bright and vibrant colours.
+ A wonderful Sci-Fi audio.
+ Pun based dialogue.
+ Simple controls.
+ Good value for money.
- Not long enough, I wanted more.

(Reviewed on the Xbox Series X. Also available on PC, Mac, Linux, Nintendo Switch and PlayStation.)
Daniel Waite
Former editor and reviewer for www.bonusstage.co.uk, I've now found a new home to write my reviews, and get my opinion out to the masses. Still the lead admin for Xboxseriesfans on Facebook and Instagram. I love the gaming world, and writing about it. I can be contacted at [email protected] for gaming reviews.

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