Albert & Otto (PlayStation 4) Review

By Albert Lichi 16.01.2018

Review for Albert & Otto on PlayStation 4

Ever since Play Dead's Limbo came out, countless indie devs set out to rip it off. At the time when Limbo was being made, it was inspired by step-based cinematic platformers of the '90s. Titles like Eric Chahi's Another World and The Heart of Darkness, as well as Flashback: The Quest for Identity were the chief influences for Limbo, which was a very humble game at the time. These were all very atmospheric and visually striking games that had some trial and error style obstacles but rarely interrupted play with dialogue or cut-scenes. For the most part, the formula to making a game like this is not complicated, so it became ripe for imitators to come forward and to cash in on Limbo's success - even Play Dead itself basically ripped itself off and made the less interesting Inside. Enter KBros Games who dared to ask the question: "What if Limbo had a gun?" As always, Cubed3 is here to help with the recovery from another cynically produced step-based platformer with Albert & Otto on the PlayStation 4.

Albert & Otto does not waste any time when it comes to stumbling out of the gate. Somehow the developers do not understand how the d-pad or left analogue stick should work on a menu. The first real big problem is that there is no d-pad usage in the 2D side-scroller at all, even at the starting menu where selecting resume or new game becomes a war of attrition. Anyone can use an analogue stick to navigate a menu. It feels a little awkward and unnatural, but moving the stick left or right casually yields no results. Upon much closer inspection, it turns out that selecting functions in this game must be very accurate to a degree of extreme minutia. Pushing the analogue stick left or right is not enough. The level of perfection on the x-axis for simply navigating a menu is mind boggling and the game has not even properly started yet.

As prefaced earlier, Albert & Otto is a very transparent knock-off of Limbo. The developers are not even trying to hide the fact that they are aping off Play Dead's game. The most obvious similarities are in the black and white visuals and attempt at atmosphere. Even the story is the same, which is about a boy pursuing a girl. Since the similarities are so strikingly similar, one might hope that the team was going to be clever and make this game be a statement about the massive influx of platformers of this nature. That would be intelligent. Albert & Otto, unfortunately, does not have this level of wit or class. The few things it does do originally feel like they were crow-barred into the game in hopes of not getting hit with a copyright infringement lawsuit. Being able to double-jump and shoot an anachronistic hand-cannon are paltry and laughable attempts to stand out.

Screenshot for Albert & Otto on PlayStation 4

The most perplexing and original idea present is the fact that this is apparently going to be an episodically released game. This is confusing because it is very unlikely that anyone will want to continue this journey and see where it goes because of the 'throw-it-in' feel of everything. Nothing in Albert & Otto feels cohesive or thought-out, like the ideas were intentionally trying to be pointlessly absurd for the sake of 'artistry.' Like how the girl has rabbit ears - no reason for it, but it sure does make people think of Alice in Wonderland, doesn't it? This is symbolism at its most superficial and shows how little the developers respect the intelligence of their players. Albert & Otto is full of things like this, which gives it a very cynically produced feel about it and explains why that the team opted for an episodic model. Yes, making games is a business, but innovation is key in a free-market, especially if the product being made is also being marketed as something artistic.

On its own merits, Albert & Otto falls very short. Animation looks really cheap and sometimes they don't trigger at all. This is a very poorly coded title, so expect to die and for Albert to not actually go into his rag-doll death state. Players will actually be able to control the main character for a second or two before the checkpoint reload occurs. Sometimes jumps/double-jumps won't register, which leads to hilarious unwarranted deaths. The telekinetic levitation ability is also pretty buggy and some puzzles require a manual reload because they are poorly designed. Previous games like this never once would require anyone to manually reload a checkpoint because these games tend to have trial and error game design by default. Albert & Otto innovates in this regard and actually has puzzles designed poorly on purpose. The veneer has a cheap and unpolished coat to it, making this look unappealing even when watching. With so many other choices of platformers available today, there is no reason to play Albert & Otto. Just go and replay Limbo or get some Little Nightmares DLC.

Screenshot for Albert & Otto on PlayStation 4

Cubed3 Rating

3/10
Rated 3 out of 10

Bad

The cinematic platformer had a very simple formula to follow and it isn't hard to make an appealing game in this genre. There have been so many over the years and the recent influx of independent developers doing their take on the whole 'kid in a nightmarish world' sub genre, there are more options now than ever. This should be at the very bottom of that list of options as it feels more like a Chinese boot-leg than anything of artistic merit. Dull, buggy, unpolished and, most of all, Albert & Otto is criminally derivative - its best quality is that it is over in about 90 minutes.

Developer

KBros Games

Publisher

KBros Games

Genre

2D Platformer

Players

1

C3 Score

Rated $score out of 10  3/10

Reader Score

Rated $score out of 10  0 (0 Votes)

European release date Out now   North America release date Out now   Japan release date Out now   Australian release date Out now   

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