There is a decent selection of puzzle platformers to choose from these days. Albert & Otto was released on PC in October 2015, and has made its way over to the PlayStation 4. Featuring puzzles that involve remotely controlling a stuffed bunny and sheep to be sacrificed, is developer Kbros Games’ latest game worthy of your time and money? Let’s find out.
A Dark World
The setting for Albert & Otto is just before World War II, in Germany. There are a few hints about this peppered throughout the world, such as a drab color scheme, and children forced to wear gas masks. Ostensibly, Albert is on a mission to save his sister Anna, who was abducted by shadows. Naturally, things aren’t as simple as they seem, and there are hints that something more sinister is going on or has already occurred. In addition, Albert is perhaps losing his grip on reality. It all ends in a cliffhanger, which—considering development is handled mostly by Nikola Kostic—means that there will likely be a long wait to have this story resolved, if ever.
Early on in this short game (it’s approximately three hours in length), Albert stumbles upon Otto, a magical stuffed bunny left behind by Anna. Once unlocked, Albert can double-jump and levitate certain objects any time the bunny is on his back. Otto can be left behind to be remotely activated, but this removes Albert’s extra abilities. Albert also carries a gun, which he uses to fend off killer crows or to kill sacrificial sheep. He can levitate those sheep, though they make a horrible squealing noise whenever done so alive. So it’s best perhaps to shoot them ahead of time, or turn them into a makeshift torch by levitating them over a conveniently left campfire. Gruesome? Sure. But also darkly humorous.
Comparisons will no doubt be made between Albert & Otto and Limbo, which also featured a brutal silhouette world and platforming. But Albert & Otto‘s puzzle mechanics are a lot more straightforward, and the world is more clearly defined and less abstract as seen in Limbo‘s often intentionally blurry backgrounds. The influence of Limbo can easily be seen, of course, but both games have their own unique things to offer players.
The soundtrack for Albert & Otto is fitting for a game of this nature. There’s a section that cements the story’s setting, by playing audio that sounds unmistakably like propaganda tracks played by fascist regimes. Beyond that, the soundtrack is generally ambient, and ramps up during boss sequences to inject some sense of urgency, since Albert’s life is at stake.
The Unity game engine powers Albert & Otto. The visuals are crisply rendered, and the game generally runs without issue. However, platforming is unnecessarily touchy. Jumping onto a moving platform, for instance, usually results in Albert staying in place while the platform moves underneath him, unless he is moved once landing. It seems the game Object for platforms is missing some sort of trigger to make Albert naturally move with the platform as would be expected. This can be especially frustrating during the last sequence of the game, since precise platforming is required. There are also occasional hit box problems, which can result in Albert being killed by a spike that is clearly underneath, yet not touching, a platform. Most of the puzzles don’t rely heavily on platforming, but instead on timing electric powers, so things could have turned out much worse.
Albert & Otto is a decent puzzle platformer with some interesting ideas. It’s a bit rough around the edges, but hopefully this has set the stage for some refinement if a second episode is ever created. Check out Albert & Otto if you desire a short but intriguing puzzler and can power through some awkward platforming.
Albert & Otto review copy provided by publisher. Version 1.00 reviewed on a PS4 Pro. For more information on review scores, please read our Review Policy.