The Otterman Empire
Developer: Tri-Heart Interactive
Publisher: Tri-Heart Interactive
Genre: Third Person Shooter
Platform: Nintendo Switch, Xbox One
Age Rating: 7
Release Date: 02/07/2020
A code was provided for review purposes.
The Otterman Empire is a pretty simple game, both in terms of gameplay and design. With its simple character and level design, The Otterman Empire feels like a homage to the video game heyday of anthropomorphic animals appearing in everything. On the surface The Otterman Empire even feels like a Gamecube or PlayStation 2 game, which isn’t necessarily a bad thing. Those of us wanting a simple couch multiplayer game will find a lot of The Otterman Empire appealing despite its apparent flaws.
Otterman or Ottoman?
Put simply, The Otterman Empire is a third-person, objective-based shooter. The game features three different game modes; Story, Local Multiplayer and Online Multiplayer. From the get-go it’s clear that the game is intended to fit into the couch co-op market, in that groups of friends or family members can play together on the same Switch console. Thankfully I have an eleven year old who’s heavily into Smash Bros so I was covered in this department. The majority of my first playthrough was spent in the game’s campaign mode.
To call the campaign an actual campaign is a bit of an understatement. What it actually is, is a series of challenges that can be surprisingly finished within an hour. What this serves is to introduce you to the mechanics that make up the game’s multiplayer. Although the campaign is a bit thin on the ground it does attempt some semblance of narrative. There is an evil otter called Tiko, who’s your typical “baddie”. Tiko seems to like messing things up throughout the game world, whether it’s through planting bombs or causing mayhem in his UFO. Whilst the rest of the plot relies on our own imagination, Tiko’s actions have caused our playable Otter, Crocodile, Sea Lion, Turtle or Fish characters to take up arms and try to stop him.
Building the Otterman Empire
The team over at Tri-Heart have done a brilliant job in building the game world. Whether speaking about the game’s visuals or mechanics, there has been a lot of time spent crafting a world that feels great to play. Although the game does look a bit rough around the edges, overall gameplay is very smooth and responsive. Our cast of enigmatic aquatic animals are also equipped with a nimble dodge and a reliable jetpack that allow for a fairly decent amount of enhanced mobility. This is also felt in the map designs which all offer various vantage points and plenty of verticality.
Whilst the game’s campaign mode serves as an introduction to the multiplayer, it’s still a mode worth playing. Each stage is a small battle set against the clock in which we have to complete our objectives. These objectives vary from a King of the Hill game mode to directly fighting Tiko in his UFO. The whole campaign also has the added option of playing in co-op which with two players was a complete blast. Each level features three stars which are rewarded based on your score and these coupled with co-op add another incentive to playing the campaign mode. The campaign mode won’t take long to complete but it does however provide a lot of variety in both its missions and maps, and is great fun to play around in.
The Rough and the Smooth
The Otterman Empire has a lot going in its favour but it’s sadly not without its flaws. It’s pretty rough around the edges and on occasion objects can clip against each other in the environment. The other issue I found is that the environment isn’t particularly explained. It took me a lot of trial and error in figuring out how to get more ammo as the game doesn’t explain this to you. None of these issues are particularly “game breaking” but can become a nuisance. Overall the game just lacks a bit of polish, but this can be slightly forgiven based on The Otterman Empire being Tri-Heart Interactive’s first major release.
The game’s forthcomings are more evident when you compare it to the Xbox One version. It’s very clear to see that the Xbox One version is the “definitive” version of the game. This is a shame as on the surface The Otterman Empire has everything that appeals to a Nintendo Switch gamer. The main issues with the Switch port are that it lacks any use of the Joy-Cons gyro controls and in a bizzare fashion uses the A button to confirm choices and the B button to back out.
As mentioned before, the whole experience is very reminiscent of playing games on a Gamecube or PlayStation 2 and the graphics highlight this as well. There are a few instances of poor texture work and objects tend to pop up all of a sudden. The whole experience is just a little too rough around its edges to be a game that keeps you wanting to come back.
Local multiplayer is where The Otterman Empire shines brightly. There are a wealth of maps and game types to choose from which offer plenty of variety in the content available. Each match is tied into a 2-minute limit which keeps each game fresh and frantic as we race to complete objectives before the time runs out. Whilst the groundwork is there to make a decent multiplayer game, the lack of a few further options holds it back from being one.
This is mainly down to how we play and who we play with. My multiplayer experience was with my daughter and whilst we had a lot of fun playing through the various matches, it would have been a better experience if we could fill the other slots up with A.I. bots. Granted this doesn’t apply to every player and having the online mode available weakens my argument. But for the single player having this option available would add to the overall experience. As a whole this doesn’t subtract from The Otterman Empire being a superb local multiplayer game. With at least three to four players the game is a highly enjoyable experience.
The Otterman Empire is a mixed bag. It has a lot of great ideas and boasts a wonderfully executed traversal system. The overall aesthetics are enjoyable and it’s great to see anthropomorphic animals in the spotlight again. Aside from the campaign and the online multiplayer there isn’t much locally to keep a solo player entertained. But with the right people the local multiplayer and co-op campaign really shines and is a great addition to add to any game night.
Rapid Reviews Rating
You can purchase The Otterman Empire by clicking the following link: Nintendo eShop