Let’s get any awkwardness out of the way – Albert & Otto looks an awful lot like Limbo. It’s even a joke on the official website. Whilst it’s not unusual to see a wealth of games with similarities on Steam (zombie survivals, anyone?), what ensures a game a place above its competitors is standing out, perhaps through style or a twist to the gameplay. Sadly, I’m not convinced that happens with Albert & Otto.
Set in pre-World War II Germany, the game begins with the kidnapping of Albert’s sister by dark forces. As Albert, the story follows you and Otto, a cuddly toy imbued with mystical powers on a quest to get her back. The world of Albert & Otto is filled with puzzles that require not only Otto’s abilities (that carry over, in different ways, to Albert) but also team work that often comes in the form of manoeuvring the pair independently.
The game says to you, “Here’s a giant robot. Now do everything you’ve just learnt, but time it perfectly or you’ll get squished by a Robo-Fist”. OK, guys, you had me at giant robot…
So far, so platform-y. There is definitely something to be said for the satisfaction that solving Albert & Otto’s puzzles can give, especially those that go beyond simply leaving Otto weighing down a switch. Otto’s powers go from the simple ability to allow Albert to double jump, to the much cooler electric powers that mean he can trigger switches. The most interesting power is the gravity gun style telekinetic powers that Otto gives to Albert, meaning you can pick up and shoot objects in a really satisfying way.
For me, however, it was the boss fights that were really rewarding. In these scenes, the game says to you, “Here’s a giant robot. Now do everything you’ve just learnt, but time it perfectly or you’ll get squished by a robo-fist”. OK, guys, you had me at giant robot.
The ingredients of this game are good and well put together. It deals with regular checkpoints perfectly which is great if, like me, you are forever mistiming jumps over giant spike pits. I had no problem with the controls (which is a blessing and a curse for those moments you’d really like something to blame for messing up a puzzle) and the puzzles themselves don’t really get old (although that maybe down to the fact the game is very short).
Graphically, the game really does look nice. If Limbo, Don’t Starve or anything similar is your thing, then you’ll really enjoy the aesthetics of Albert & Otto. The soundtrack accentuates the Tim Burton style with its eerie, melancholy tones. It’s great to have a game like this where you actually want to listen to the accompanying music and sounds (the music tracks are even available as a separate purpose through Steam!).
If you love platformers or you’re looking for a game you can just pick up and play, there’s a lot you’re going to like about Albert & Otto. But if you’re looking for something really special and innovative, there are other places to look.