Black and white styled games always give you a creepy feeling from the off. Quite often, the brain will jump straight to Limbo, which tells the short story of a boy who comes face to face with some confusing puzzles and grizzly monsters. Albert & Otto is told in a similar vein, and so will automatically draw comparisons with Playdead’s puzzle platformer due to its length, style and gameplay.
Albert & Otto: The Adventure Begins: Xbox One [Reviewed], PS4, PC
Developer: K Bros Games
Release Date: 10 January 2018
Price: £9.59 [Disclosure: Game Copy Provided by Publisher]
Albert & Otto is set in Germany and the year 1939, although you wouldn’t necessarily know that because the game never outright tells you, although, with backdrops featuring zeppelins and people in gas masks, you’d be able to make a pretty good guess at the games time period. Furthermore, the game never quite tells you what is going on and leaves you to figure out a lot for yourself, but this isn’t necessarily a bad thing as it allows you to figure out the story at your own pace and answer the questions it asked for yourself.
This short experience puts you in control of Albert, a young boy searching for his sister. At the start of the story, you see her disappear, but are told nothing about where exactly she’s gone. It’s your job to try and find her, by making your way through a number of different levels solving numerous puzzles. They start out easy enough, involving you to simply move boxes about and manoeuvre about different ledges, but soon pick up once you reach the end of the first chapter. It’s a steady increase in difficulty, which is perfect for the average gamer, but never feels too hard so that you’ll struggle.
The puzzles change significantly once you pick up Otto, your sister’s toy rabbit. While your character Albert has the ability to shoot a gun, Otto adds a whole lot more to the mix. Firstly you can double jump, which obviously makes movement a lot easier and as you progress through the game you are introduced to additional skills that Otto has. These include the ability to use electricity to press switches and being able to levitate things such as boxes, sheep and dragonflies, which become essential pieces of puzzles later on in the game.
Whilst Otto’s powers all work as they should, Albert’s gun is a little more awkward. You have a number of things you’ll have to shoot, including birds that will attack you and boxes held up by string. This would be all well and good if the gun worked exactly how it should all the time, but sadly it doesn’t. Apart from the aim being extremely awkward because the action must be performed using the right stick, on a few occasions the aim actually got stuck in one place and refused to move. This required a full reset of the game before it would return to normal, which is annoying as certain areas require you to use the gun in order to progress.
In between the puzzles and the platforming sections are some boss fights, which actually incorporate both of these things. Boss fights are fun to do and the game offers two achievements for beating a couple of them without dying, which is an achievable feat that will take a little bit of practice. The chapter select at the game menu offers you the chance to redo any area of the game too, which is always handy especially when a game has achievements to complete sections without dying.
Albert & Otto is fairly short in length, only taking a couple of hours for you to fully complete, but it actually serves as the first of a four-part series. The ending leaves you eager to find out what will happen next, but there has been no news as of yet as to when the next episode will come out.
While the chapter select is useful for replaying the bosses, it is also a handy way to pick up any collectibles you may have missed. These come in the form of shards, which make up a big picture of Albert’s family, and letters in post boxes. The letters are from Albert’s sister and help to piece together the story a bit more. No shard is too hard to find, so you shouldn’t be missing any along the way, but it’s nice to have collectables that are not only easy to find but also help explain a bit more of the story.
Albert & Otto‘s black and white aesthetic is complemented by an eerie but sporadic soundtrack. There are some issues with the game’s audio not playing right, with some parts lasting longer than it should and having the wrong effects play at the wrong time. Aside from this, the overall feel you get from the game is perfectly creepy. It’s achieved so easily but works really well, and while you’re experiencing Albert and Otto’s journey there’s that feeling of things not being quite right and a little bit off.
Albert & Otto is a short and sweet introduction to a series that has potential. There’s a weird feeling whilst playing it that you can’t shake off, and the black and white setting is perfectly suited to the war based plot. The game is not without its problems though, as issues when using the gun and confusing audio stop it from being flawless. In conclusion, you won’t be blown away here but there’s definitely something intriguing from the off and potential for things to get very interesting in the character’s story.