Category Archives: PC Reviews

Rogue Legacy 2 – Early Access Review

It’s a tad ironic that Rogue Legacy, a game all about children succeeding their parents, has taken almost seven years to come out with a sequel; but Rogue Legacy 2 is finally here. Can Rouge Legacy 2, which has recently entered its early access period, manage to live up to the legacy of its well-loved predecessor or is this new child nothing but a big disappointment?

Rogue-lite


If you’re not familiar with the original Rogue Legacy, the basic concept is this. An existential threat is facing the kingdom and it’s up to a brave hero, controlled the player, to venture into a dark castle and save the day. As metroidvania style game, the castle is a randomly generated environment divided into different rooms which can all be freely explored by the player from a side-scrolling perspective. Each room presents a different challenge to overcome, from deadly enemies to vicious traps and even the occasional brutally hard boss-fight.

Rogue Legacy 2 is an unapologetically hard game, and your first foray into the castle is nearly guaranteed to end with death. Luckily, the adventure doesn’t end there as the hero has a seemingly endless line of descendants who are eager to pick up and continue the quest. Upon death you are presented with a choice of three potential heirs, all with randomised traits, different appearances and a unique class. Classes consist of your typical fantasy fare of with knights wielding sharp swords, spell-casting wizards and axe-carrying barbarians, each with their own unique playstyle and aesthetic.

Your character’s traits, on the other hand, are much more on the zaney side. Each heir can potentially have up to two of over thirty available traits. These range from things like colour-blindness which puts a black and white filter over the entire game to IBS which replaces all of your special abilities with farts. When these traits are first encountered on a character, their meaning is not immediately apparent and their explanations are hidden until you have played with them at least once.

I had to learn the hard way that my pacifist archer who suffered from brittle bone disease was unable to attack, on account of the pacifism, and was doomed to die in one hit. Although it would be nice to see a larger selection of traits added, especially considering that this game contains roughly the same number as its predecessor, the potential for over a thousand unique trait combinations nevertheless kept my characters feeling unique.

Castle crasher


One new feature is the ‘Universal Healthcare’ upgrade which means that you can now pick up positive cash modifiers depending on the severity of your character’s conditions. This means that players who deliberately pick the most challenge traits are rewarded and stops you from just picking the heir with the fewest conditions every single time. As in real life, collecting money in-game is extremely beneficial as it acts much akin to experience points rather than traditional currency.

Whilst money, which is collected from defeated enemies and a variety of hidden chests, is lost at the start of a new run, players are always first given the option to purchase a number of upgrades for their castle. This is effectively your character upgrade tree, unlocking handy upgrades which are carried forward in each subsequent run. You can pick up health upgrades, armour upgrades and even unlock new classes. Unlocked upgrades are accompanied with an additional building being erected in your in-game castle serving as a nice visual way to track your progress the game.

In addition to constructing your castle, you can also build shops in the game’s hub world. These shops include a blacksmith, selling a variety of armour pieces which improve your hit-points, and a sorceress dealing in mana upgrades. Purchases from shops are only temporary, lasting the duration of the run they were purchased on, but can still provide you with a nice little boost. Before you can buy anything however, you have to track down blueprints which are randomly distributed in the chests scattered throughout the castle.

There are also occasionally rooms with special chests. They have special criteria, like killing enemies without taking any damage, which must be completed before the chest can be unlocked. These chests are more likely to contain higher amounts of cash, rare blueprints or even valuable heirlooms – items which provide permanent buffs and are passed on to descendants.

Rogue’s gallery


Visually, Rogue’s Legacy 2 is particularly pleasant. Merging very colourful, smoothly animated character sprites with soft hand-drawn backgrounds is a great aesthetic choice and successfully modernises the original’s pixelated graphics whilst remaining comfortingly familiar to returning players. The game also features two new biomes, distinct from the castle, which appear later in the game. One features a bright and snowy outdoors aesthetic whilst the other is dark, demonic and menacing.

These biomes each have unique architecture and enemies in addition to their new looks and help liven up the experience when they are introduced later in the game. The developer has also promised to release a number of new biomes throughout early access, going so far as to include a countdown to the next biome update on the game’s main menu, and I’m excited to see what new content is in store for the game.

Not much of a legacy


On the subject of new content, more of it is definitely needed. The current experience feels a little bare bones, even for an early access title. In addition to the new biomes, it would be nice to see some new classes added to be unlocked perhaps later in the game as playing for hours with the same four classes that I unlocked right at the start of the game quickly became repetitive and samey in spite of the randomised character traits.

The game’s music could also use some work as whilst some tracks, particularly that of the hub world, are very enjoyable; the majority that play while you explore the castle felt underwhelming. It’s alarmingly easy to forget that there’s any music playing at all and I often found myself muting the in-game music all-together and just jumping on to Spotify instead.

There’s also the matter of the game’s difficulty, which is notably high. Whilst I don’t have an inherent issue with hard games, I died frequently as a result of the game’s bizarre keyboard controls which are particularly fiddly. The game makes use of the left mouse button to attack and the right to use powerups, but there’s no option to face the direction of your cursor. This means you have to stalk walking towards your enemies to actually face them, and lead to many annoying instances where I was either desperately clicking to kill a fast-moving enemy I wasn’t facing or accidentally walking into enemies while trying to face them.

Verdict:


Rogue Legacy 2‘s position as an early access title is definitely reflected in its current state. It has many of the same features which made the original great, accompanied by a fantastically overhauled set of visuals, but lacks a degree of polish. At the moment there are some solid foundations laid which would greatly benefit from some minor fixes and a hearty content addition. Although the high difficulty might prove too challenging for some, if you were the type of person who got hooked on the original Rogue Legacy, I don’t see why you wouldn’t be equally enthralled by its successor.


Just so you’re aware! In order to facilitate a review this product was given to our organisation free of charge.

House on the Hill – Early Access Review

It may be a few months away, but there’s never too early a time to begin thinking about Halloween! If you’re looking to get in the spooky mood before the big day, you might be attracted by the prospect of a good horror game. House on the Hill is one such game; a recently released indie horror title, which offers four uniquely scary experiences in an almost anthology-like fashion, centred around one giant mansion just waiting to be explored.

Smash and grab


Opening in a dimly garage, the player character is introduced as a desperate criminal looking for their next big job. Working in conjunction with your mysterious partner – your companion throughout the game, constantly offering you tips and commenting on the world around you via a digital earpiece, your goal is to break into the titular house on the hill. A deserted Victorian mansion, this huge home houses a selection of valuable jewellery alongside a number of disturbing secrets.

One of the most intriguing and important elements of House on the Hill is its dynamic plot, with each venture into the house having its own story to tell. In the four chapters of the game the unlucky thief faces off against everything from a gas-mask wearing psychopath inhabiting a hastily constructed murder maze in the mansion’s basement to the spirit of a murdered wife dwelling in the attic and even some kind of bizarre mediaeval crab monstrosity from another dimension.

The creatures tend to be revealed near the end of each run, but as you progress through the mansion before then, you are surrounded with environmental clues hinting at the monster’s backstories and nature. For example, you can learn from objects on a desk that the gas-masked man of the first run was a decorated war veteran with a collapsing family, both factors which hint towards the source of his mania. Despite the enemies not being particularly unique in terms of originality, this surprisingly subtle approach to storytelling kept the adversaries a constant source of intrigue and had me eager to keep venturing back into the house time and time again for more answers.

Each of the stories ends with the game literally being rewound, like an old fashioned film cassette, showing an entertaining recap of all your choices up to that point. You will notice that each story is also subtly different from the last, with item placements changing and new areas of the mansion becoming open for exploration. Your companion also gains new voice lines, each chapter revealing a little more about his personality too. This continued character development helps give the otherwise disconnected feeling stand-alone stories a pleasingly engaging sense of continuity.

Photographic memories


Some of the chapters also introduce their own unique puzzles and game mechanics which helps to keep things feeling a little more fresh on your repeated venture. The puzzles were, thankfully, always the right difficulty, being just challenging enough to feel rewarding without every becoming immersion-breakingly hard. Your auditory companion is always more than happy to spout some helpful tips, doing so sometimes only a few seconds into the puzzle.

Some might feel this abundance of guidance to be a little on the side of handholding, but it ensures even the casual players would never become stuck and helps keep your focus on the narrative being told. Although it would still admittedly be a nice touch if these tips were made optional, perhaps via a popup when you launch the game, to keep those players who were eager for a bit more of a challenging experience happy.

Besides the puzzles, the most interesting mechanic introduced is the certainly the game’s camera. As you would expect, the camera allows you to take photos of your surroundings, producing a Polaroid print which must be shaken to reveal a picture. These photos even take on a supernatural quality, often causing changes in the world around you. You can photograph the various paintings scattered throughout the mansion to reveal hidden, and often spooky, hidden variations. Later on, it becomes part of the game’s puzzles, being able to bring objects like hidden doorways into existence with a snap.

As you journey through the game, your progress is mapped not just by the mechanics you master, but also by a location in the mansion which houses plinths which are adorned with the items you have successfully stolen so far and counts down your progress towards the game’s dramatic ending.

Up in flames


Unfortunately, this progress in the game is nearly always hampered by the player’s movement speed, which has you ambling around the mansion at an almost incredibly slow pace. Luckily, in the game’s chase section your movement speed is dramatically increased, presumably to keep things from becoming comically underwhelming. Outside of these sections, I often found the snail-like pace to detract greatly from enjoyment of exploration so an additional always-present option to press a key to walk a little faster would certainly be an appreciated addition.

There also needs to be some more work on the game’s translation which, although by no means unintelligible, houses infrequent but noticeable spelling and grammatical errors in subtitles. Furthermore, whilst the game’s voice acting is solid for the most part, the audio mixing definitely needs work. Sometimes voice-lines are far too quiet to hear over the background audio or suddenly, and startlingly, increase in volume between playbacks.

I also found the game’s occasional reliance on jump scares, particularly in the second chapter, to feel a little cheap but they are thankfully few and far between and so don’t really detract from the overall experience.

Verdict:


House on the Hill is an undeniably promising experience. Each of the four stories it presents may appear a little cliché to horror veterans, the game’s unique narrative flair carries just enough new ideas of its own to keep the experience interesting throughout and coming in at just over £5 with the tantalising possibility of future improvement updates and content additions; House on the Hill is a title that’s definitely worth keeping an eye on.


Just so you’re aware! In order to facilitate a review this product was given to our organisation free of charge.

Necronator: Dead Wrong – Review

Have you ever been in the middle of a round on one of those browser tower defence games and sat back and just wondered about who exactly is behind the seemingly endless legions of baddies who are practically throwing themselves at your impenetrable defences? Well, Necronator: Dead Wrong, which has just received a full release having recently left early access, is a game to answer that question. Uniquely told from the attacker’s perspective, it combines elements from both the deck-building and real-time-strategy into a proudly quirky and distinctly different experience that will likely have you coming back time and time again for more.

Tower offence


The plot follows the exploits of a young evil-doer fully trained up in all sorts of villainy, having recently graduated from the ‘Undead Academy’, who is aiming to become the greatest necromancer in the rather ironically named fantasy world of Livmore. Joined by a ‘chubat’, an adorably squishy looking winged purple comrade, players must rampage across Livmore winning challenging battles, recruiting armies of troops and just generally leaving a trail of death and destruction in your wake.

When you start the game, there are three available protagonists to choose from with one, the Death Knight, available right away and the other two being unlockable via in-game progression. With slightly different story interactions throughout their campaigns, each protagonist has their own unique abilities and card decks, giving them unique playstyles. Your character’s decks and abilities are utilised in the game’s combat sections, which involve using cards from your deck to dispatch troops along paths, much like the lanes of MOBA titles, towards an enemy base and to heal or provide buffs to your army.

Your current hand is shown at the bottom of the screen and each card is labelled with a set amount of mana which must be spent to play the card. Mana is generated predominantly by your home building or when by captured enemy defences You mana can too be used to discard your hand and draw new cards from your deck – particularly handy a few hours in, when you have obtained a deck of considerable size.

It’s good to be bad


Although the initial few levels being almost incredibly easy, completed in a matter of seconds by simply spamming all your units, difficulty soon picks up and I was pleased to discover that there is a shocking amount of strategy required in order to get past the later levels. Becoming acquainted with the individual stats and properties of the cards in your deck is a must if you want to get very far, and I found that keeping track of which cards I had already played in a game in order to try and predict the ones which would enter my hand next both kept me one step ahead of my adversary, making winning the fight extra rewarding.

No matter how much you think things through however, battles still rely partly on chance. The cards selected to enter your hand are chosen entirely at random from your card pool and the same goes for that of your enemy. Whilst strategy is undeniably effective, this randomness stops the player from becoming too complacent and, despite sometimes becoming a source of unparalleled frustration, keeps each battle feeling fresh and exciting. Keeping battles engaging is particularly important for Necronator; with death converting all of their progress to overall character XP and setting the player right back to square one.

XP levels up your protagonist, unlocking new starting decks and abilities. Alongside gaining cards to bolster out your deck, succeeding on the battlefield grants “souls” which players can spend on upgrades. Cards can be purchased directly in their upgraded forms through the shops littered about the map or alternatively upgraded in camp. The opportunity to set up camp is granted to the player every few levels and allows them to upgrade cheaply, heal or pay a small fee to remove cards from their hand. You can, however, only select one of these options before being forced to move on.

This creates an interesting conflict between maintaining your health and increasing the power of your deck. Alongside better stats, enhancing cards unlocks new visual sprites for your units who are now seen with visibly more durable armour or a more menacing looking improved weapon in their hands. In addition to being a nice bit of attention-to-detail, this helps give a good sense of progression to your deck and I enjoyed being able to actually see my troops becoming more powerful throughout the game.

There are a number of random encounters to be discovered throughout the game, marked by a mysterious question mark on the map. These give the player some choices to make, granting powerful cards if successful but simultaneously run the risk of crippling unlucky players with debuffs. The sheer number of different decisions to be made throughout the campaign, as well as the vast number of cards that can be added to your deck, makes losing feel less like a chore than an opportunity to start over and experiment with new card configurations or discover events and outcomes you may have missed. Furthermore, the inclusion Steam Workshop support does wonders for replayability, allowing players to create and share everything from custom-made game modifiers to full-length story campaigns.

Unfinished business


Outside of combat, the game’s map is pleasantly drawn with its soft colours and cartoon-like style complimenting the game’s cutesy hand-drawn character designs well. Battles themselves, on the other hand, are presented from an isometric perspective the presentation of each battlefield in a small square area, which can be rotated and explored by the camera. I found that it was far easier to focus with concentration focused on a small area and kept even the most frantic of fights from feeling too overwhelming. Older gamers will likely find the box-like arenas, three-dimensional scenery and two-dimensional pixelated unit sprites a pleasantly nostalgic combination, being particularly reminiscent of early strategy games like Disgaea.

This influence is also apparent in the game’s writing, which follows a similarly comic tone. I found the light-hearted pre-battle dialogue to be a constant source of amusement whilst the sardonic interactions with the game’s cast of punnily-named boss characters contains its fair share of genuinely laugh-out-loud moments. It’s a shame that this dialogue becomes far less entertaining when it is repeated verbatim at the same points in every single playthrough. The pre-battle dialogue from Chubat is a notable offender in this regard, which each area only having a handful of lines which play out before each battle. What’s there may be very good, but it’s a shame there simply aren’t enough unique lines to keep you from instinctively skipping dialogue interactions.

The title’s music, although by all means wholly satisfactory, was on the whole a little blander than I expected for a game which is otherwise oozing with personality. This is quite nit-picky, but it would also be nice if the game’s tutorial, which is relegated to a small tick-box on the game creation menu, was made a little more apparent for new players as launching the game for the first time and missing the tutorial made for quite a confusing experience.

Despite having left early access, the game is still receiving frequent content and quality of life updates based on user feedback, so I’m confident that these small nagging issues will be resolved in future patches.

Verdict:


Despite some very minor shortcomings, the entertaining writing and engaging visual flair elevates the game’s experimental gameplay combination of addictive deck-building and unpredictable real-time strategy. Cute and colourful, Necronator: Dead Wrong is one unique strategy experience you won’t soon forget.


Just so you’re aware! In order to facilitate a review this product was given to our organisation free of charge.

Panzer Paladin – Review

Whether you’re a long time player who’s chasing the thrill of childhood nostalgia or a more recent arrival to the gaming world who is simply trying to live the highlights of an era gone-by, there’s nothing quite like a great retro-styled platformer. After a few hours with the recently released game from the platforming gurus over at Tribute Games, I can report that Panzer Paladin is exactly that – a great retro-styled platformer that will certainly scratch your itch for all things 8-bit.

Gundam style


The game opens with a quick tutorial level, which introduces the core mechanics of Panzer Paladin‘s gameplay. In short, you play as the pilot of a powerful mech suit – the titular paladin – and must utilise this suit to navigate sprawling levels populated by evil demons which have escaped from the underworld. These demons appear in a number of forms including horrible insects, evil knights and even knife-throwing goblins. Each enemy poses a unique challenge, with distinctive attack patterns with must be learned to ensure success in combat.

Players can employ the mech’s in-built defences, a somewhat weak fire-ball attack, or take advantage of the plethora of oversized medieval melee weapons dropped by enemies. Paladins are able to carry a large number of these dropped weapons, each of which carries its own attack range, damage stat and durability meter. These values, which can be viewed in the game’s pause-menu work about how you would expect. Weapons like spears have large ranges and high durability but comparatively low damage when put against the likes of swords or clubs. Having your items frequently break may sound like a chore on paper, but in practice it ensures you experience the wide range of weapons on offer and incentivises you to pursue higher-level, and therefore more durable, weapons.

You can manually break your weapons by holding a button. This destroys you currently selected item but unleashes a unique-power attack, the strength of which depends predominantly on the power of the weapon you are sacrificing. It’s an enjoyable and effective way of disposing of any lower-level items you might pick up and can come in extremely handy in a fight. Weapons can also be tossed a high speeds and throwing a spear at an out of reach enemy is an awful lot of fun. You still have to be careful though, because tossing away all your weapons willy-nilly can leave you highly vulnerable until they are retrieved.

In addition to combat the game also features some light platforming elements which have you avoiding trapdoor platforms, exploding mines and spike pits galore. These sections are made easier by leaving ejecting from your power-armour which renders you more smaller and more mobile at the cost of lower health and the inability to pick up and use weapons. There are also some small puzzle-like optional elements in levels centred around breaking parts of the environment or ejecting from your suit at specific points to enter small gaps. Completing these is often rewarded with a bonus health regeneration station or unique weapon.

A world at your fingertips:


One of the first thing’s you’ll notice about the game is it’s striking art-style, a faithful recreation of colourful 8-bit graphics. Each of the thirteen levels is based upon a real-world country, selected from a world map-style level select screen, and carries its own distinctive art style. The portrayals of each country may be a little on the stereotypical side but they provide a great variety. One minute you’re taking in the spooky gothic atmosphere of an ancient Scottish castle and the next you’re navigating the bustling streets of New York. I was also pleased to notice that the game’s bosses, which are situated at the end of each level, were all loosely based upon mythological creatures native to each country’s lore. The stages themselves are accompanied by their own fantastic theme songs, featuring an exciting blend of typical 8-bit beeps and more sophisticated elements clearly inspired by each nation’s traditional instruments. Each boss fight also comes with its own, more generic, combat theme.

From the map-screen, players can also access the “laboratory” in which they can use their “spirit points” – gained by completing levels – to upgrade their weapons. An upgrade system is a nice feature to have, but it is made pretty redundant by the fact that you still have to find the weapons each level to use them with the large number of available weapons making it quite tricky to actually encounter the specific one you have just poured all of your points into. Luckily, although these upgrades do undeniably improve weapons they are certainly not necessary to complete the game and in my playthrough the availability of powerful weapons in levels meant I never really felt held back by a lack of upgrades.

The game also features an in-depth weapon creator which allows users to create their own pixel-sprites and stat sheets. Your creation uploaded directly to the Steam Workshop on PC and automatically integrated into everyone’s games. Players can find community created weapons dropped randomly by higher level enemies and the potential of finding all-new weapons contributes greatly to the replayability of the game. If for some reason though you want to stick to only the developer-made weapons, the community content can be disabled at any time via the settings menu.

In addition to encountering all new weapons, replays are encouraged by the remix mode and speedrun mode. As the name would suggest, remix mode alters the levels of the campaign mode by altering enemy placements to create a more challenging experience whilst speedrun mode challenges players to beat “ghost” versions of either their previous playthroughs or those of the top global players.

Lost the plot


I found the only real major issue with the game to be the result of questionable PC optimisation. The default keyboard control scheme can be described as ‘unintuitive’ at best and makes a game with an old-school approach to difficulty borderline impossible at times – even on easiest settings. Thankfully, this is easily remedied through either picking up a cheap PC compatible controller or purchasing the Nintendo Switch edition of the game; it is worth noting that this edition doesn’t include the Steam Workshop features, however, for obvious reasons.

The game’s plot, which is presented through some admittedly superbly drawn retro pixel-art cutscenes, is pretty straightforward and I found that, despite their prettiness, being bombarded with walls of text at the end of an otherwise exciting level made me pretty eager to skip them; particularly in some of the longer story segments. It would also be nice to have the option to change the in-game font as, although the blocky text is undeniably authentic, I found it a bit hard to read at times. These criticisms may seem to be a little nit-picky, but there’s really very little wrong with the game besides these minor niggles.

Verdict:


When it comes to retro-styled platformers, this is certainly one of the best we’ve seen yet. It may not entirely reinvent the wheel conceptually but Panzer Paladin still has a host of fantastic features and a great art direction. Any fans of the genre will certainly appreciate a particularly well crafted set of maps, some killer music and gameplay which has undeniably been tweaked to perfection.


Just so you’re aware! In order to facilitate a review this product was given to our organisation free of charge.

The Otterman Empire – Review

There doesn’t seem to have been much to celebrate recently but that certainly doesn’t stop us from being in the mood for a good party game. The Otterman Empire from indie developers Tri-Heart Interactive is one such game. A bright and colourful co-op shooter in which you play as adorable otters, might just be the you need to keep you and your friends cheerful when times are tough.

A l(otter) heart


Set on an intergalactic space colony, The Otterman Empire places players in the shoes of a customisable aquatic warrior who is tasked with defending the planet against the evil mad scientist Dr Tiko by destroying his seemingly endless army of malevolent machines. Players can face this challenge with up to three friends in local co-op play or opt to face it alone in single-player. There are eight selectable characters to choose from, each with a unique design and diverse selection of unlockable cosmetic items to discover.

From a visual standpoint, The Otterman Empire is a pretty good all-rounder. The colour palette is bright and cartoonish, perfectly complimenting the game’s character’s colourful designs. I found all of the eight included maps to be intriguing, each one covering a distinct visual theme. These range from a futuristic sport themed space arena to the gardens of a mediaeval looking castle. My personal favourite was the game’s first map, a sleek futuristic city environment which was both gorgeous to look at and a lot of fun to explore.

Your progress through the game is mapped, if you’ll pardon the pun, by the maps you unlock through playing. Each one has three alternate game-modes to try with a potential of nine total stars to unlock – three stars being the highest obtainable rating per game-mode. By unlocking a sufficient number of stars, you gain access to the next map. In theory, this ensures the player will spend a sufficiently long amount of time in each map to get really to grips with it. but in reality, this system just becomes a bit of a slog after a while; with players forced to repeatedly go over the same maps in order to get a high enough rating to progress.

In spite of the forced repetition, the different game-modes which are on offer in each map are nevertheless pleasantly varied. My personal favourite was ‘squidditch’ a fast-paced mode which challenges players to use their jetpacks to slam dunk as many bombs into enemy spawning portals as possible. Both jetpack fuel and ammunition is replenished through sliding gaily along waterways which are dotted along maps and additionally serve as a quick method of transportation when you’re in a hurry. The other game-modes on offer are similarly unique and all require a distinct set of skills for players to master.

Not quite a party


It is a huge shame that no matter which map or mode you choose to play there seems to be only two total enemy types found throughout the entire campaign. There are stationary turrets which will blast any player unlucky enough to stumble into their field of view with a laser beam and smaller, laser-firing flying drones, which are often equally as stationary. The strategy for tackling both enemy types is the same, unload as many shots into them as quickly as you can, and this tangible lack of enemy variety causes gameplay to become incredibly stale in only a matter of minutes.

Overall, the campaign mode offers a few interesting modes to try out, but the seeming lack of effort put into enemy design and behaviour leaves the whole ordeal feeling like one big wasted opportunity. It can be tackled in both a single player or as part of a local co-op but why anyone would actually want to play the campaign in co-op, and not the far more interesting versus mode which does away with the boring robot enemies, is beyond me.

Sitting down with the versus mode and having your buddies blast away at each other’s otter avatars is an awful lot of fun! It allows you to return to your favourite maps and revitalises the more interesting game modes from the campaign. PC users also have the option of Steam‘s ‘Remote Play Together’ with which you can invite a friend to play a livestreamed version of your game through an integrated browser window. It is entirely reliant on the other player having both a fast internet connection and USB controller on hand, but does you the chance to play the game with people who are not in the immediate vicinity.

Otterly baffling


I am happy to report that since launch, the game has received numerous patches and small updates – the most significant of which was a fix for the PC version of the title, which launched with a borderline unusable keyboard control scheme. It would be nice to see some further additions to help improve the overall polish of the game.

A notable area for improvement is the audio design. Whilst most of the included original music is good, the audio design of the in-game dialogue definitely needs some work. With no actual sound effects beyond a few frequently repeated, and strangely quiet, soundbites, the character interactions of both the campaign and tutorial feel completely lifeless. Another appreciated addition would be a reworking of the game’s graphics menu, which still doesn’t include basic options like changing the window’s resolution or even just the option of playing the game in windowed mode!

The UI on PC is absolutely huge and there is absolutely no way to resize the text and buttons so that they don’t occupy large areas of the screen. Simply addressing these few basic issues would go a huge way in improving the title’s overall look and feel. It would also be nice if damage taken was more obviously communicated to the player. It’s hard to keep track of your health in the heat of a battle and there were many occasions when I didn’t even know I was taking damage until I had died.

Verdict:


The saddest thing about The Otterman Empire is that the game is almost good. Whilst there has evidently been a lot of love and passion behind the title’s unique art-direction, quirky writing and superb community management over the years; a number of baffling design missteps and a lack of overall polish unfortunately prevents me from being able to wholeheartedly recommend this title. It isn’t an inherently awful option if you’re craving a local co-op fix, but many would-be players will likely find that the game’s current issues are just a little too hard to swallow.


Just so you’re aware! In order to facilitate a review this product was given to our organisation free of charge.