Space Otter Charlie is developed by Wayward Distractions and published by The Astrophysicists Guild. This is Wayward Distractions’ first game to appear on the Xbox Store and is rated for ages 10 and up. The game itself is an action platformer with ‘Zero-G’ puzzles to solve as you explore space stations as the otter Charlie. Charlie is accompanied by two other otters that aid in finding a suitable place to live.
The year is late 2000’s, after Humans abandoned Earth, and the Otters band together to build a rocket to attempt space travel. Humans already left the planet in the year 2500 due to global warming, so with Earth heating up the otters felt the urge to build rockets to fly to space. After the opening comic sequence ends, Charlie is dropped into action.
Charlie starts by learning how to move around in space with no gravity and is capable of using a thruster pack on his back to help get around. Getting stuck is never an issue. The player will be able to move with the left stick and the ‘A’ button. Moving either requires a well-planned jump or the thrusters being used since Charlie will just float in the direction you jumped. The thrusters have a limited amount of energy you can use and do regenerate over time. The player also builds their first weapon which is capable of not only destroying enemies, but also obstacles in the way. The enemies in the game are either robotic in nature or bacteria and aren’t much of an issue if the player is going for the weapon upgrades while exploring. Charlie can also slide against a flat surface with the right trigger and some momentum, and later in his adventure he can learn how to roll quickly to avoid danger from lasers. The rolling power is more of a charged shot in a single direction. There are a series of levels Charlie must advance through and some opening side locations up for more upgrades or costumes to be found, but each with a set of objectives to complete per level. Sometimes Charlie will come across a Sea Urchin and can spam ‘X’ to eat the creature for a power up. When eaten, the player turns into a Mega Otter with increased Fire Rate and shots for a brief amount of time.
The different weapons Charlie is equipped with during his space journey are the Lazor, Reflector, and a Missile Launcher. The weapons can be upgraded after finding the plans and increase fire rate and damage. The Missile Launcher is upgraded with seeking missiles making some end game battles significantly easier. The shooting in the game feels accurate even when shooting across the screen. Auto-aim is in the game when firing towards an enemy, it will lock on if within range making swarms of enemies easier to kill. All of the bosses are unique and usually require smart movement or a clever puzzle to kill. None of the levels or bosses were particularly challenging except for the last level and boss. The last level is actually broken up into different missions since it’s so long, but the game is a joy to play. If you happen to die at any point in any level, it will respawn you at the most recent auto save point which is usually at the beginning of the room where you entered. The main levels do have bosses to beat and are somewhat longer than the other missions. There are just thirteen levels, some being longer than others.
I personally enjoyed the gameplay of Space Otter Charlie, it’s fun to fly in microgravity avoiding obstacles in the game. There was one level where the walls were red hot and proved tricky to fly through some small caves, but it was fulfilling beating the section. The game isn’t hard by any means and is great for new gamers. It’s very cartoonish and cute. Cute is a perfect word describing the game considering its filled with otters that make otter puns.
The story dialogue is delivered all through popup texts by Charlie’s two other space otter friends Jesse and Ada. The southern engineer who we can spend currency on to bring fellow Sea creatures aboard the Raft is Jesse, and Ada is the scientist who was a part of the second rocket attempt out of three.
Some of the end game abilities that Charlie earns through building upgrades with resources obtained from kills are very strong. I saved the Combat Training mission for last after beating the boss, and was able to blow through it in a breeze with seeker missiles and lots of shield upgrades. Throughout Charlie’s adventure there are series of logs to find. There are some secret rooms hidden behind a manhole in the wall or a hidden by a wall you can float through. Some of the audio logs are hidden quite well and specific ones are required to earn all the achievements. Some of the logs are unique only for a particular level, and then there are the sixteen Otter Facts scattered throughout all levels. The Otter Facts are required for an achievement, but most of the time they are out in the open. If thorough, you can easily tell if you explored an area or not by using the Map after finding it hidden in any level. The rest of the achievements are very easy and will come with natural progression and collection.
The visuals are animated drawings and look great. The design of the art in the game is reminiscent of the older space cartoon The Jetsons. I’m sure some older cartoons had to inspire the designers of the game in some form. The background in the levels and the pod design in the levels have rings. Even better is the sound for the game. The game’s music is unique and has a soundtrack specially made. The music throughout the levels feels right for the setting of space travel from asteroid station to the next station. The main music theme that plays in the levels has a loud bass and what sounds like a digital Theremin. The otters don’t have dialogue apart from dialogue texts, but do make unique sounds when their text shows. The level of quality in the animation and audio is far above what I was initially expecting for an Indie Developer game.
The longevity of Space Otter Charlie isn’t as high as the other areas of the game. Where the game lacks in long term replay ability, it makes up for in cute otter humor and beautiful art graphics and a stellar soundtrack. The game was worked on by few unlike many other major titles released and plays very polished with no issues that I found. With the Audio quality and graphics in mind as an example, the cute story of three otters searching for a home is fun is childlike filled with optimism. The game is appropriately priced for the amount of time and enjoyment you will receive and the full achievement completion can be earned in as little as 8 hours. I would also recommend this game for any youngsters as a gift if it’s something they might enjoy. There is a multiplayer mode, but it’s only for local co-op with two modes. One mode is essentially Capture the flag, but instead of a flag you must collect a sea Urchin. The other mode is Furry Fury which is Free for all. There are power and weapons drops that are random and custom settings for both game modes if interested in playing 4 player battle mode on one screen. I don’t plan on playing through the game again, but enjoyed the time I did playing Space Otter Charlie. I managed to collect and complete all achievements in the 8 hours it took to for me to collect all the logs, explore all levels and beat all bosses.
Space Otter Charlie is a lot of fun. The Zero-G puzzle platforming is great, as is the audio visual work. The multiplayer aspect is underwhelming but the campaign more than makes up for this with its inventive scenarios and levels. I highly recommend checking Space Otter Charlie out if you’re looking for a new platformer to play.Become a Patron!
This game was tested and reviewed on Xbox. All of the opinions and insights here are subject to that version. Game provided by publisher.Want to keep up to date with the latest Xt reviews, Xt opinions and Xt content? Follow us on Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube.