Ever since the initial release of the iconic Limbo back in 2010, many developers have tried to put their spin on a noir puzzle platformer. Now see’s the turn of Albert & Otto, developed by Kbros Games. If anything, it’s unfair to compare Albert & Otto to Limbo as it brings enough of its own characteristics to the table, but unfortunately, due to an inconsistent final third, this noir adventure struggles to meet the expectations so highly set back in 2010.
As you’d expect with the art style, the story of Albert & Otto is about as ambiguous as they come. The game opens with a young, bunny-eared girl disappearing in a puff of smoke – and then throws you into the role of Albert, a young, gun-wielding boy. Not far into your adventure, you come across a contrasting red bunny, which I can only assume is Otto (the game never confirms that but clues in the title). Not only does Otto carry the cool, provocative red look, but he also grants you with some pretty useful abilities, but more on those later.
The main narrative loop of the game come through the opening of drawings left behind by the missing young girl. Although there is no dialogue in Albert & Otto, these simplistic drawings tell enough of a picture for you to understand the game main direction, which turns surprising dark towards the end of it 2-3 hour play through. This almost pretentious way of telling the game’s story through pictures fit’s in perfectly with the overall design of the game, and with this only being the first episode of a 4-part game, I look forward to seeing where the story goes next.
As I previously mentioned, the little red Otto isn’t just there for his cuteness, more importantly, his puzzle-solving abilities. The logistically-challenging puzzles you come across in Albert & Otto sit in the same vein as the previously mentioned Limbo, requiring you to manipulate switches and move parts of the environment. With this said, the puzzles here are genuinely brilliant, apart from the last third of the episode, but again, more on that later. Almost every puzzle I came to would make me stop and really think about the outcome. It’s fair to say that the puzzles here don’t feel impossible, and the solution can often be found after several fails, but nevertheless, solving them still brings about a real sense of achievement.
Unfortunately, the brilliant puzzle designs from the first two-thirds of the game don’t carry through until the end. For some surprising reason the game takes more of an action platforming approach to the final stages, and although this plays out in a boss fight fashion, it is by far the weakest part from the first episode of Albert & Otto. My lack of fondness for this section fell down to two distinctive reasons. Firstly, the gameplay elements of the final stages are very trial and error, meaning there is almost no way to finish a section with dying a few times first. This would be fine if it wasn’t for the poorly placed checkpoints, which leads me on to my second reason. The distance between these checkpoints is hugely different from the rest of the game, sometimes sending you back three or four puzzles just because you didn’t know how to complete a new puzzle on your first time of trying. I understand that the developer wants to ramp up the difficulty in the final stages, especially as a boss-style fight is involved, but the rather than bringing a sense of achievement like the rest of the game did, finishing the boss brought more of an ‘about time’ feeling.
The atmospheric world of Albert & Otto offers some very fun puzzles to solve and an intriguing dark narrative to follow. The pace at which your granted abilities fits in well with the different situations the game challenges you to overcome. The decision to take a more fast-paced route in the final third can leave a slightly bitter taste in your mouth. With that said, this I only the first episode of Albert & Otto and first two third of the game has got me excited to see what developers Kbros Games come up with next in episode 2.