Albert & Otto is the debut title of KBros Games, a platformer/puzzler with some simple shooting mechanics thrown in. Its bold art style and intriguing puzzles have led to comparisons to the 2011’s landmark Indy title: Limbo. Exploring below the surface reveals Albert & Otto is a very different title, with some interesting design choices. Although not all of these are handled with the same care as its compatriot, it delivers an occasionally fun platforming experience, as long as you ignore its shortcomings.
Limbo’s differing dark shades are emulated well in Albert & Otto, though whites are more prominent and Otto’s red hue highlights the player around its surroundings. It further differentiates itself from other titles with its gear-infested environments. Diversity is its weakness, with each new area barely distinguishable from the last.
Players start by watching a young girl with Otto, a little red plush bear, vanishing into thin air. Then you play as the protagonist Albert, a boy with a gun with no clear incentive for progressing through puzzle-laden environments. The Albert & Otto website elaborates more on what happens during the prologue, but it’s disappointing that this is a prerequisite to enjoying its narrative. Indy titles can lead to some memorable stories, though KBros’ attempt falls flat immediately.
You’ll soon forget all about that, and progress by moving from the left side of the screen to the right by jumping from one platform to another. Occasionally you’ll come across life-sized birds which attack on sight, these are dispatched using dull shooting mechanics. Combat is thankfully relegated to the backseat, though its inclusion at all is bizarre.
Otto makes an appearance after the introduction, expanding your abilities by first letting you double jump and then levitate objects. More importantly, Otto can be dropped to solve switch-based puzzles. These can be frustrating, due to players becoming stuck easily if Otto is left behind, or in an unreachable area. Returning to the pause menu to restart the checkpoint became a recurring theme for the game.
Boss encounters fair better, though not by much. Facing off against a steam-powered robot, which takes over the background while slamming its fists into the foreground, is a menacing encounter. The key to success is to memorize its movements and plan accordingly, leading to some tedious trial and error. Laser beams can kill Otto if you leave it on a switch, leading to some cheap game overs.