In otter space, no one can hear you scream… well, at least that’s what evil mastermind, Tiko, would like you to think. It’s time to gear up and buddy up in this manic party shooter as the Otterman Empire needs your help. Shoot down spacecrafts, blow up artilleries, and most importantly, look cute all while doing so.

Is The Otterman Empire as awesome as otters are cute, or would it just be best to let Tiko take over the world? Find out what we thought in our review, after the break!

The Otterman Empire
Nintendo Switch, Xbox One, and PC
Developed by Tri-Heart Interactive
Published by Tri-Heart Interactive
Released: 2nd July 2020
Review copy provided by Tri-Heart Interactive

Let’s face it, otters have been severely underrepresented in video games. Developers seem to be all over dogs, cats, and even dragons, but rarely do you ever get to see an otter, let alone play as one. All that changes with The Otterman Empire! The game is set in the titular region of space, where an evil otter, who goes by the name Tiko, is up to no good, causing all sorts of mayhem with his mechanical monstrosities. It’s up to Astrid, along with their other otterly cute cohorts to save the day.

The title is a third-person shooter that presents you with various objectives to complete. Within the campaign mode, challenges range from having to destroy gunships, to repairing otter robots or even taking down lasers by diving through hoops. There’s definitely a wide variety of missions to take on within the empire.

The Otterman Empire comes with a comprehensive tutorial that will teach you the main mechanics of the game. Each of the eight playable characters has a primary weapon that can be used with ZR. Astrid, for example, has a pair of your run of the mill pistols, whereas Geo comes equipped with a rocket launcher. You’ll also have a special ability that is, once again, exclusive to that specific character. This can be unleashed with X once it has been fully charged. Though putting a jetpack an actual otter is probably not the best idea (let alone contributes to animal abuse), it’s really cool for taking the higher ground in a video game, just hold onto the B button to boost on up. Finally, you can also dodge out of harm’s way by double-tapping the B button, and dive into the water with Y to recharge your weapon’s energy. Though I would’ve thought gyro controls would’ve really helped some people with aiming, myself included, they are unfortunately absent from the game. Other than that slight annoyance, the rest of the controls work pretty well.

Rather than having to complete the objective to finish a level, the missions use a score-based system over a duration of three minutes; depending on how high your score was for that mission will determine how many stars you receive out of three. To be able to progress further within the campaign, you are required to earn a specific amount of stars. Each time you complete the objective, you’ll get a big boost to your score, though you can also score a handful of points by defeating enemies, in some cases, it’s entirely possible to get a three-star rating without even tackling the mission objectives.

It’s obvious that the game is meant to be played with other people as it progressively becomes more and more difficult to get a three-star rating the further you progress in the campaign. If you have an extra pair of controllers, you and a buddy can take on the entire campaign cooperatively, it’s slightly odd that the campaign can only be played with a maximum of two players and would’ve been a lot cooler to have a team of four to take down that madman of an otter. Unfortunately, as the game only supports local multiplayer at the time of writing, I was unable to test this out to the full extent seeing how I have a lack of people to play with. It is fairly annoying that the game does not include online multiplayer, especially within the current climate of lockdown, however, this is something the developers could add in the future with their promise to continuously update the game.

Overall, the campaign is fairly short. There are only eight worlds, each containing three levels, giving you 24 missions in total. It only took me about two hours to complete the campaign on my own, though I have been tempted to revisit some of the previous levels just to see if I can better my score, adding to the replayability of the mode. Some of the worlds are pretty fun to play around in and I found them to be fairly well designed too. As fun as it is to play through the levels, I will admit that, at times, it became too chaotic. Not with the amount of what’s going on, rather it can be a bit difficult to see what’s going on. Quite often, in the later levels, I found myself dying not knowing what exactly killed me. I thought I was miles away from a turret, yet it was still shooting me; it can kinda be difficult to see if you are getting shot by bullets or a slow-down ray.

If you have a bit of competitive spirit in you, it may be worth checking out the versus mode. This allows you and up to three other buddies (or arch nemeses) to pit against each other in any of the eight worlds from the campaign; this can either be played in a free-for-all or a team battle. You could choose to be vanilla and just go for a standard deathmatch, alternatively, if you want to spice things up a notch, you can also choose to add three objectives too. Each player chooses three objectives out of the eight you may have seen during the campaign, three of the chosen objectives will then be picked at random for the duration of the round. I shouldn’t have to tell you that completing objectives will net you more points, making victory more achievable. Once again, at the time of writing, versus mode is only available in local multiplayer so I have not been able to test it out fully, though online multiplayer could be possible in the future.

The Otterman Empire has a striking resemblance to many of the old party games that came out in the GameCube era. It does a fantastic job in recreating those sort of games. The visuals are bright and vibrant, and just about as cutesy as otters themselves; doesn’t hurt that there are unlockable accessories to glamourise your characters with. Unfortunately, the graphics also seem to be stuck in the past too (give or take a few years). They aren’t terrible, they just seem a tad dated and rough around the edges, though the art style does work in its favour, it’s also possible that they look sharper on platforms other than Nintendo Switch. Also, please pump up the music volume, it’s great, but it’s way too quiet while playing. Luckily the majority of the experience runs fairly smooth, even while playing multiplayer… I totally did not connect four pairs of JoyCons to my console and attempt a four-player match by myself… nuh-uh!

The Otterman Empire is a pretty pleasant and nostalgic experience, especially as the game is Tri-Heart’s first major project. Though the campaign is short, the replayability of improving your score and the versus mode just about makes up for that. The gameplay is relatively smooth and the art style is reminiscent of GameCube games, though do expect some of the graphics and textures to also call back to that era. All that aside, if you are looking for a cool party shooter to play with your friends locally, we’d definitely recommend checking out The Otterman Empire.

The Otterman Empire is out now for Nintendo Switch, Xbox One, and PC.

Final rating – 3.5 out of 5

Leon Fletcher

I am a huge Nintendo fan, hence why NintyBuzz exists. I especially love all things Zelda and Metroid. NintyBuzz was started by me back in the Summer of 2014, it started out mainly as a hobby, though the site has gradually grown, and I hope it grows for many years to come!