Space Otter Charlie Review: A Space Otterssey

Space Otter Charlie releases on March 18th for PC, PlayStation 4, and Xbox One. I conducted this review using the PC version of the game.

You can find a video version of this review here: Space Otter Charlie Review [No Gravity Platformer] – YouTube

Overview

I’m not usually the biggest fan of side-scrolling games, usually, because I don’t find the movement enjoyable. However, that’s the very core of why I was Ottracted to Space Otter Charlie. There’s no walking at all, and you don’t jump, at least in the normal sense.

Since the game takes place in Otter-space, there’s no gravity. Charlie wears a fancy set of mag boots. This allows the furry hero to stick to ceilings and walls. When you “jump” you’re really propelling yourself from surface to the surface using the game’s physics system, and you get a limited use jet pack to “swim” through space.

Everyone Otter be tired of puns by the time they finish this review.

Charlie will navigate a variety of levels solving puzzles, and blasting baddies all centered on top of the game’s no gravity concept. You can acquire a variety of weapons and suits for Charlie, and if you have some friends over you can take part in a versus multiplayer mode for 1 to 4 Otters.

Hello from the Otter Side

After committing the Ottrocities that led to a global disaster, humans fled the planet. This left the animals in a world where the weather continued to grow ever Otter. Thankfully the furry little rascals built a ship of their own to search for a new place to settle down.

Space Otter Charlie is a very cute and light-hearted game. The story isn’t at all deep but the characters and dialogue are charming. Much of the lore you pick up adds some humor and you can even find real-world facts about Otters scattered around the many stages.

The game itself is split between several stages, half of which are optional. Each stage is its own self-contained mini Metroidvania, with branching pathways, locked doors, and puzzles. As I mentioned before, simply moving around the levels is an Otter joy. It’s fun to bounce, slide, and jet pack around, and the lack of gravity plays into the rest of the game.

No gravity physics are the games centerpiece

Many puzzles will have you landing on or pushing crates through weightless space to block lasers or push buttons. The design and use of the physics system is clever. Each stage has its own types of puzzles and quirks. One might have you weaving between laser grids, while another sends Charlie through the center of a boiling asteroid where the walls are to hot to land on.

Exploring is good for more than just completing the game. You can pick up all kinds of blueprints for shield and weapon upgrades, or new spacesuits and the parts to make them. Each suit gives Charlie a very different aesthetic look, but also an exclusive gun. Sure, wearing a shark suit looks Otterly ridiculous, but it sure is cute!

You will use those guns to blast aggressive robots and hungry space amoebas while drifting and bouncing through each of the maze like stages, as well as few clever boss fights. Sadly I really didn’t feel much need to use the various optional weapons. The ones you find during the main journey more than sufficed. Since they were the ones needed for most of the puzzles, I rarely ever swapped them.

Look at Charlie in his cute little shark suit!

I found Space Otter Charlie to be an interesting nostalgic experience. I largely grew out of the side-scrolling genre because they made up a significant portion of what I played growing up. Space Otter Charlie managed to give me intense feelings of nostalgia in the simple joy of exploring an area, solving the puzzles, and picking up blue orbs, while feeling fresh enough to keep me interested in the first place. Space Otter Charlie even has its own version of the Mario super star and that made me smile.

While I was always interested in seeing what the next stage held for me. The last level managed to catch me off guard, and I once again felt that childhood nostalgia and excitement.

Since I’ve largely moved on to more complex games, I had forgotten how that felt, and I’m thankful I decided to review the game. That said, Space Otter Charlie is exceptionally simple. The puzzles are easily solved, and the game held almost no challenge for me whatsoever. A couple of later levels were a bit tricky, but the experience is very mellow and casual.

Normally I’m pretty harsh on any game that is both easy and doesn’t offer difficulty setting to alter it. I think most games need to have settings that players can tweak to have the experience they want. But the fact of the Otter is, exceptions exist

Boss fights have an old school touch.

Criticizing Space Otter Charlies’ lack of challenge is like criticizing Dark Souls for being hard. It’s the intent of the game’s design, and I knew that going in. You don’t hate on a game for knocking its design goals out of the park because it doesn’t suit you. Space Otter Charlie is definitely aimed at a younger or more casual audience, and I’m sure they will find a lot to enjoy with it.

The single-player campaign is actually pretty short, however. I had completed all of it within four hours, and that includes the optional stages. But Space Otter Charlie also doubles as a party game where you can play 1 to 4 players in a multiplayer mode that Otter help with the replay value.

Who says games don’t teach you anything?

The multiplayer component is surprisingly solid. It Otterates on the same physics and lack of gravity that prominently features in the single player. There’s a variety of arenas, all of which have environmental hazards that the players can trigger and two modes. One’s a simple deathmatch, but my favorite involves trying to steal and munch on an Urchin before the Otter players can stop you.

The weapons I never bothered using in the single-player really shine in multiplayer as they appear as random pickups that can you use. The multiplayer is local only, but it’s a lot of fun and a nice side feature that I wasn’t expecting.

Verdict

Space Otter Charlie is cute, fun, and easy to play with, clever but simple puzzles, enjoyable old-school boss fights, and plenty to explore, find, and craft. It’s a game aimed at a more casual demographic that I’m really not a part of, but that’s okay. I still found a lot to appreciate.

Moving around each stage by floating through space and sticking to walls remained entertaining from beginning to end, and I enjoyed using the physics system to solve puzzles. Space Otter Charlie is certainly on the short side, but the solid arena-style multiplayer mode can add some replay value.

If you play multiplayer and lose, just turn the Otter cheek.

Hardcore gamers won’t find much to flex their gaming muscles on, but younger or more casual players should consider picking it up. Since it’s aimed them, it would a criminal Ottrocity to shame it for that. Speaking of criminal, I wonder if there’s a legal limit of Otter puns per article, perhaps I should contact an Otterney…See you on the Otter side!

A copy of Space Otter Charlie was provided for Gideon’s Gaming by the Quantum Astrophysicists Guild for the purpose of review. Looking for a hardcore platformer? You might also enjoy my review of Chrono Ghost.

My verdicts below, but consider checking out my creator store or tossing in a donation on my Kofi page if found the review informative or helpful.

Pros

  • Fun physics based movement system about leaping and swimming through space
  • Interesting nostalgic gameplay that’s a throw back to the glory days of side scrollers, but feels fresh
  • Solid local multiplayer party game mode
  • Cute, wholesome and forgiving game aimed at a more casual crowd

Cons

  • Short length, taking only around 4 fours to complete everything
  • Most optional weapons aren’t worth using in the single player campaign
  • Multiplayer is local only