Albert and Otto is a monochromatic puzzle platformer game that tries to rub shoulders with the likes of Limbo, but doesn’t nearly manage to stand quite as tall. The game is set in 1939 Germany and sees you taking on the role of the titular Albert, a young boy in search of a missing girl. Players are introduced to the girl from the get-go and after witnessing a strange (blink and you’ll miss it) occurrence, the girl vanishes from view. Throughout the two hour campaign players are tasked with solving a range of environmental puzzles as well as nabbing any clues that will explain who the girl is, and what happened to her. It’s a very straight forward experience that doesn’t do much to excite, but still proves to be endearing nevertheless.
The game does a good job at feeding you into the basics of play without compromising too much of its short campaign length. To begin with you’re simply tasked with jumping over small gaps, utilizing bounce pads, and pushing crates to aid you in climbing hard to reach areas. I have to admit that at this early point in the game, Albert and Otto had made quite a decent impression. Sadly however this was short-lived. It became almost immediately apparent from this section onward that Albert and Otto largely depended on player trial and error, rather than dishing up some truly intriguing puzzles.
For example, I died several times in an underground cave due to two consecutive rockfalls. This in itself wouldn’t be much of a problem, but given that I died for nothing more than stepping onto a small rock once it had fell, took the wind out of my sails to some degree. Now as if that wasn’t annoying enough, I also died in the same area when a rock lightly touched my knees just as it was completely losing its momentum. If this was an isolated issue I could probably overlook it but the fact of the matter is, is that this functionality is present throughout. Much of my time with Albert and Otto consisted of dying a handful of times per-section to either identify a puzzle or solve it.
Mercifully the game is generous when it comes to checkpoints, meaning you’re never spawned too far from where you last took a dirt nap. That being said, dying time and time again is far from fun and seeing as there’s no way to avoid this on your first run, it becomes a game of perseverance rather than engagement. Albert comes equipped with a gun that can be used to take down enemies, such as large vultures that will pick you up and kill you if you don’t put them down before they make contact. This gun also doubles up as a means to progress further into the game, allowing you to shoot ropes that will drop crates for you to then jump on. It does get more intricate than that, but not so much so that it proves too taxing.
Near to the beginning of the game you’ll stumble upon the titular Otto, a mystical red teddy that grants you abilities for as long as you hold it. I say that because you’ll be required to drop the stuffed rabbit on activation plates to uncover certain pathways. When carrying Otto, Albert is able to double jump. This comes in handy for clearing larger gaps and reaching even higher platforms. The jumping can be very hit and miss depending on the environment, but it manages to respond well enough to see you through to the end. Shooting on the other hand is an entirely different story. I can forgive the fact that it takes forever and a day to reload your single-shot gun, but the overly sensitive aim is far from passable. It’s not a huge annoyance during the initial phases of the game, but it soon becomes a pain in the ass when you’ve got multiple foes attacking you in rapid succession.
Another issue with the game pops up when you’re face to face with the first boss, a huge robot that attempts to fist slam you, drop boulders on you, and shoot lasers at you. The aim of this fight is to activate all three plates simultaneously that are situated at the bottom of the screen. The idea is to have Albert trick the robot into slamming its fist onto one of the plates, to which you’re then supposed to jump on the last remaining plate seeing as you would have put Otto on the first plate to begin with. Frustratingly enough there’s a bug in the game that doesn’t allow Otto to activate a plate in this section of the game unless you jump and drop him at the same time. It took me a while to figure this out and until the devs fix the error, this is the only workaround I could find. It’s worth pointing out that this error only became apparent once I had saved and quit the game, so you may be able to bypass this if you don’t quit the game in this section. In any case, it was a nuisance to have to contend with.
Once you have defeated this section, Otto will gain the power of telekinesis. You’ll be able to use Otto to manipulate objects to solve puzzles or make further progress. Much like the shooting, using telekinesis is not what I would describe as fluid. It can take several attempts just to align one box on top of another box, and that’s one of the most basic scenarios you’ll be using this power for. There’s more emphasis on puzzles and platforming than there is combat, which is a blessing if you ask me. The game does try to take the difficulty up a notch by dishing out harder puzzles to solve, but the true difficulty tends to be wrestling with the mechanics rather than problem solving. Make of that what you will.
Littered throughout the game are a number of shards that you can pick up, most of which usually sit on your natural path. These shards collectively form an image that you can view in the menu screen, but I wont ruin what the image is of. You can also collect images that will be located in post boxes as you move through the game, these attempt to relay some sort of meaning but I have to say that much of it was lost on me. I don’t want to drag this game through the mud too much because it does have some redeeming qualities, just not that many that it saves the game entirely. Albert and Otto may well look like a good game at first glance, but the bottom line here is that it’s fairly average on all fronts.
Albert and Otto doesn’t do much that hasn’t already been better achieved elsewhere. It’s an average puzzle platformer at best, but one that will no doubt please fans of the genre.
This game was tested and reviewed on Xbox One. All of the opinions and insights here are subject to that version.