As we reach the end of winter (and hopefully the first signs of the end of the pandemic), we’re slowly starting to see a few big next gen titles appear on the horizon as well. Before those arrive, however, we have a trio of new releases to explore. Below are our thoughts on Space Otter Charlie, the PS4 release of Bite the Bullet and Murder of Eridanos, the second and final DLC campaign for The Outer Worlds.
Space Otter Charlie
Coming our way from developer Wayward Distraction and publisher The Quantum Astrophysicists Guild is Space Otter Charlie, available now for consoles and PCs. And with a title like that, you know it’s going to be either a generic platformer with a crazy new mascot, or something quite creative – luckily, it’s a case of the latter. Space Otter Charlie is about a future breed of otters who venture off into space after mankind left earth – the otters starting up their own space program in their wake. Yeah, it’s silly and mostly just a backdrop for what you’re playing, but the emphasis is always going to be on gameplay in a game like this.
The game is a puzzle platformer at heart, and yes – it does feature an otter called Charlie as its main protagonist and is set in outer space. Gravity and physics play a big role in how you navigate each level though – floating through zero gravity as you move about space stations and asteroids and avoid enemies while you do. Movement is the thing that takes the most getting used to in Space Otter Charlie, as moving in outer space isn’t as responsive as you might initially think, especially having seen some fast-flowing action in the game’s trailers. Not to worry – that is something that comes with practice.
This deep space environment plays heavily into the gameplay as well, taking out enemies one moment and then floating to the ceiling a second later to get a new angle on them as you hang upside down. Upgrades and keys gradually open up more of the environment as well, exposing new challenges and rewards through abilities that allow you to tackle a previously impossible puzzle. This is a game that veers more towards the action platform side of things though, and most puzzles are relatively straightforward as long as you have access to the right abilities and weapons. Worst case, at least for us, was a puzzle that only made sense after we unlocked a new weapon later on – beyond these “ooooooooooooooh”-moments we were rarely stumped in our efforts to block laser beams or throw switches.
Space Otter Charlie is a fun and lighthearted puzzle platformer with an emphasis on action that has plenty of personality to be enjoyable as something relatively unique, and at its budget price point it’s a fun diversion of fans of the genre.
Bite the Bullet
Bite the Bullet was previously released for the Xbox One, PC and Switch, and just made it over to the PlayStation 4. Dubbed as the world’s first “run & gun & eat”, we were curious to see what we had missed out on originally.
The premise for Bite The Bullet is certainly an original one, and one that makes the game stand out from the crowd in the run & gun genre. Eating features prominently as a gameplay mechanic, so in that sense this is quite different from the likes of Contra, Midnight Resistance and Turrican, even if the gameplay looks similar at first glance.
Playing as Chewella or her male counterpart Chewie (no relation, sorry), you work for DarwinCorp amidst a world in which people have becomes disfigured due to malnutrition to the point where things start looking like a bio-apocalypse full of dangerous mutants. Because you work in the food industry, you get equipped with a special implant that allows you to eat anyone and anything while on your way to fixing the mess that has been created.
That may just sound like a gimmick, but it ties into the gameplay really well. Eating different enemy types and things has different results on your body, and eating also gets you DNA credits to help you level up your character. There’s a catch though, and it’s that you can only eat enemies who have been stunned – kill them and there’s no more reward, because dead tissue is no good for you. In other words, you have to be somewhat conservative with your ammo not just because it’ll run out, but also because you’ll need those upgrades later on.
Through an upgrade tree and the weapons you find, the gameplay gradually becomes more and more diverse, and you’ll constantly have to adapt your gameplay style because of it – you want powerful weapons, but you also don’t want ones that blow enemies away almost instantly and leave you without upgrades.
You can upgrade and progress along different lines, from an “all you can eat” perspective to being strictly vegetarian or carnivorous – and your choices will affect your gameplay much like they would in an RPG. Your path to success is still the same and the levels won’t change, but the character customization options you have are definitely fun to explore. On a second playthrough, you can also engage with some of the optional objectives in each level – some of which can be easier depending on what you’ve done to your body through your food intake as well.
Beyond the novel gameplay, however, the controls certainly could have been tighter and more responsive and the level design can feel repetitive. But while it’s not perfect, this is a novel take on a classic genre that we certainly enjoyed playing.
The Outer Worlds: Murder on Eridanos
Between its well-received initial launch, the subsequent DLC release of Peril on Gorgon and the Switch version, it feels like one of our favorite games of 2019 was never far away. The second and final major piece of DLC content has now been released though, so let’s see if Murder on Eridanos can give us a satisfying finale to a modern classic of a game.
As with the previous content in The Outer World, both in the base game and in the DLC, the narrative delivery is a crucial pillar for Murder on Eridanos, and it certainly doesn’t disappoint despite not changing up the gameplay formula and feeling like “more of the same” yet at the same time certainly not like “too much of a good thing”.
The expansion focuses on a film noir-type murder mystery that takes place on Eridanos, a new location that you get access to if you’re past level 30 and have unlocked Stellar Bay. There, you must piece together who murdered Halcyon Helen, spokeswoman for the Rizzo Corporation – a journey full of interesting dialogues with NPC and a strong and entertaining plotline – the storytelling of which is aided by the inclusion of a decent amount of cutscenes as well.
Eridanos is a great-looking location full of colorful characters and environments to traverse, and it was certainly worth the wait. It also fits comfortably within the rest of the story framework, and if you never played the game before I’d imagine it all feels rather seamless. What’s especially impressive about that is that The Outer Worlds is such a branching game that features so many possible choices, and Murder on Eridanos offers a similar amount of replay value rather than taking a more linear approach.
New weapons and tools are also featured in the expansion, and include something called the Discrepancy Amplifier, which besides offering you a chance to research scenes for clues about the murder also has a personality of its own. It reminded me of Portal’s GLaDOS with its sarcasm, and in a game so full of personality like The Outer Worlds it’s another solid addition. Murder on Eridanos might be so seamless that it feels like you’re not getting enough that’s “new” or “different”, but fans of The Outer Worlds won’t want to miss it either.