Today I’ll be reviewing Albert & Otto: The Adventure Begins ($11.99 XBOX One, PS4) from K Bros Games. This game is dark and ominous in its stylings. It’s also a puzzle game at its core. So what do I think of it? Well, I’ll share that with you, no worries dear reader…
‘Unique mechanic utilizing a little bunny which the player can carry
around or leave and/or remotely control in order to solve puzzles
A story inspired by dark events buried in our history and told through a
child’s drawings and clues scattered throughout the game that force the
player to think outside the box
Levitate sheep, use them as platforms to swim on, a torch to light a dark
cave or as a distraction for wolves while you make a quick escape. (if
your stomach can handle it)
2.5-3 hours of unique puzzles that utilize a bunny, levitation, electrical
switches, wolves, piranhas and more
Experience a mix of slow paced thought provoking puzzle design and
fast unforgiving gauntlet sections’
Naturally, it wouldn’t be a thorough review without the trailer for the game:
Audio & Soundtrack:
The audio and soundtrack is the best part of the game in my eyes. When I first started the game I was blown away by the arrangement that was playing over my surround sound. There was stringed instruments on top of a full array of drums. Quite frankly, I had never heard such a magnificent tumbling of music out of my surround sound. I was just blown away from the very instant the game hit my screen. But yes, there are some big issues here.
The first being that the music is very loud. I had to turn the whole thing down. Normally I just leave my surround sound at a medium volume and it is just fine to me. All games and movies sound great in a middle setting, but this game is very big and booming. The other problem, which is a much larger problem is the game’s coding, I would guess. The game has a hard time knowing when to stop playing sounds. The best example I have of this is the game’s use of gears. We all have an idea of what big, old gears sound like when they start moving again after a long time. The game did a good job making that sound come through and meeting my expectations. But after I’m done with the puzzle that involves the old gears that are turning and grinding, that sound stays on screen with me for probably a good five minutes before it just stops. And it doesn’t slowly disappear either, it just stops because it finally registered that I’m long gone and onto the next puzzle. And it doesn’t just make sound like it’s off in the background either. This stuff makes the horribly awful sound just as loud as if you were standing on top of it still. To be clear, that isn’t the only example, that is just one example. The game is riddled with this issue and I could find no fix or workaround for it during my playthrough.
Other than the game being broken, the audio effects are quite nice. They did a good job with the sound effects and the music overall. They just did a bad job coding it all together. This is a first for me as a gamer. I’ve never played a game before where the audio is good, but the placement of it is broken. Obviously, if enough people complain about it, they could patch it. I hope that is what happens here. It’s a beautifully crafted soundtrack with a lot of hard work put behind it. 4/10
Are we going, to be honest with ourselves here? Or are we just going to pretend that this game is just another Limbo-esque game? Look at it! Of course, the game looks great, the visuals are either inspired by or pay homage to Limbo. Clearly, that isn’t a bad thing, if done right. You have the whites, blacks, and greys everywhere. The splash of red from the Otto character helps so that you can keep an eye on where he is at all times. But I don’t think that this is enough. I love the idea of flat images layered on top of each other at different depths. What I would love to see is that each depth is it’s own flat color so that I can make out some of the things better. The birds that come at you for instance. Or the boulders that roll and tumble. These sometimes are in the foreground with your main character and sometimes are in the background. I know they did their best to differentiate the colors based off of distance, but I just think that it wasn’t good enough. There are shards that literally sparkle at you to let you know that they’re there. The main hiccup here is that in black and white, sparkles look like nothing that is going to catch your eye. They could’ve at least made them colorful like they did with Otto and instructional signs. Overall the coloring they choose wasn’t applied well. It didn’t pay well enough homage to Limbo. It should’ve just stayed its own thing.
Sometimes, due to the puzzle, the camera has to be pulled out pretty far. This is something that makes it even harder to pay attention to Albert as he is moving along. It makes it hard to judge distances to jump over. It definitely makes it far too hard to keep an eye on where Otto is, especially if you’ve played a puzzle repeatedly due to its difficulty. Because that causes you to drop Otto somewhere of your own choosing, but if you keep choosing different locations then it’s hard to remember where you dropped him this time. Thus, the camera doesn’t help because since you’re so far out, you have to squint…or use a larger TV.
Last of all, just like the audio having issues, so did the visuals. There are places where the visuals stick around on screen from other screens. I have just never seen a game so broken that visual assets from another screen stick with you as you go. For example, when you first start the game, you have a home menu. You can change the profile of the player and such, etc. If you simply start the game and let the opening cutscene happen, you’ll still see a few menu options stick around! If you don’t touch anything, they’ll stick around on the screen, covering stuff even when the game has started and Albert is waiting for you to move him. This is just a crazy thing, I don’t know how little testing they did on this game. But it really, truly could not have been thoroughly tested. Is it playable? Yes, technically. But it does detract from the look of the game, it adds to the already hard to see stuff, and it happens at random places. Heck, sometimes the screen doesn’t scroll fast enough with you. I just really think the visual aspects of this game had far too many issues. 3/10
So as I mentioned to you once before, this game appears to look like Limbo. Or at least it tries to look like Limbo, anyway. The world gives off an eerie vibe and that’s all good and well. But the gameplay, is it like Limbo too? Well, the short answer is yes, but the long answer is a hard no. Yes in regards to you playing a young boy and that you jump from place to place. You move platforms to get to other locations. And everything is out to kill you apparently. But that’s the only regards in which this game is similar to Limbo. The game practically fails us as players and it is more so up to us to try to find the fun in the game. Let’s first talk about how it gets wrong what it tried to use from Limbo. Then we’ll talk about what it got wrong in terms of what it added new. And then we’ll talk about what it did get right in terms of the game as a whole.
What it got wrong from Limbo was first of all the platforming. In Limbo, we jump and if we don’t quite make the jump, the game saves us. There is a mechanic where the character may grab ahold of the side of the ledge that it didn’t quite make. Then it will proceed to pull itself up to the destination surface. In Albert & Otto, we desperately need this mechanic. Whenever you jump to another platform here, your character’s animation stands upright as if he is standing on flat ground. He will be just a vertical rod, expecting to land flat on the ground. His body doesn’t assume a position to grab ahold of anything, it just assumes that I know what I’m doing and will make the jump. So needless to say, you die a lot from the distance. The other half of the whole jumping issue is the fact that the jump happens a split second after you press it. It is damn annoying to press a button and the character reacts a second too late. This issue made the game unplayable for me at parts since some puzzles rely on you jumping really quickly.
With regards of what this game added new, that was not conducive to the game, I would have to say, the gun. Why is there a gun? I never felt it was terribly necessary to use the gun in the standard platforming gameplay. It’s like they added in birds to kill you just so you could remember that you had a gun. That way, if you needed to use it in a puzzle further along in the game, you would remember that you had it. The way you shoot the thing is agonizing as well. You’re already using the left thumbstick to move your character and B to jump. But in the middle of doing this stuff, a bird could fly at you. So you have to suddenly use your right thumb to point the laser from the gun and then press the R trigger button to shoot. It’s just too much, too soon, too fast. What would make more sense ergonomically is to have you use L3 to change your stick, aim and shoot. Then press L3 to change it back. Another thing that they put in their game that made it too much was the hokey task of collecting shards. Just ignore the shards. They’re not going to get you extra gameplay or unlockable gun accessories. They’re just a novelty way to try to extend the gameplay and they’re pointless.
What did the game get right though? I do like the fact that they tried to not be Limbo. Yes, of course, it’s hard not to draw comparisons. But I like that they added much more depth to the screen which gives bigger backdrops behind the character. They added Otto as a mechanic. He is basically something that you can drop on an additional platform if you need to press down 2 platforms at once to make something move or open. This is leaps and bounds better than dragging or pushing random objects from within the world. That means the screen has minimal elements on the screen at one time, making it better for you as the player to see what it is that can actually be interacted with. Also, when carrying Otto you get a double jump capability. This means you have to decide when to use Otto as a platform weight or as a double jump. Last of all, the length of the game seems to be the perfect length considering the issues that exist in the game. You know, some parts of it are almost torment at times at what not. I think if it had been any longer, it would’ve made it worse. If it had been shorter, I’d be rolling my eyes and scoffing at it even more. 5/10
Replay-ability & Longevity:
Even if this game had a multitude of additional modes or Game Plus options, I wouldn’t recommend bothering. Even though you may have spent your hard earned money on it, I would recommend only playing the primary game and then letting it be. I mean, this game is so heavily broken that I wouldn’t want anyone to really get it in the first place until it’s been patched. The audio issues, the video issues, the jump mechanics. Man, this game really would have to do so much more than that to make it up to those who bought it early on. I would hope that they don’t just patch the game to make it a much better game, but that there would be free additional content.
If they fixed the game, I would probably honestly give it closer to an overall 8/10 score. But even then, there isn’t much replay-ability to it or longevity. You drop into the game and it just kind of starts. So if they gave us free content, how about more levels that are harder levels. But as it stands, there isn’t anything in the way of really extending the gameplay other than playing through it again. If you are unlike me and truly like the way this game plays and like the broken game warts and all, you’d still be disappointed that it’s just a single player storyline. I would love it if they added Albert’s sister as a playable character. She could have her own extended storyline. Or maybe there could be a 2 player mode with her. SOMETHING! 1/10
If you’re looking to get this game for XBOX One, click here!