Flying high with The Otterman Empire’s jetpack-based multiplayer shooter

Back in November, Tri-Heart Interactive revealed a local multiplayer third-person shooter with the pun-tastic title The Otterman Empire. Though the game has no ties back to the former empire that dissolved after World War I, it does have a link to otters. Namely, otters that have guns and jetpacks. And not just the otters, but a fish and a crocodile, too!

The demo greets you with a quick bit of exposition about Tiko, an evil mastermind that wants to see the empire fall, and how you are among the defences aimed at stopping him. You don’t get a sniff of the campaign in the demo, but do get to dive into the various elements that the multiplayer has to offer.

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Before you get to that, you’ll want to get to grips with the game’s third person action in the tutorial. Everything’s pretty much as you’d expect, as you learn how to use the jetpack, grab items and fire your weapon, but the amount of time you can spend soaring through the sky depends on how much fuel you have in your jetpack. Thankfully, it’s pretty easy to top it back up again, if you do find yourself grounded. Using water for propulsion, you can just hop into any of the streams around the maps and fill up. Quite a novel way to get fuel!

The Otterman Empire’s split-screen multiplayer doesn’t just pit up to four players against each other and have them blasting away, Along with going head to head there are also objectives to complete and dangers in the map to contend with. These include turrets that will cause you damage, drones that will slow your movement down if you get caught in their beams, and giant lasers that criss-cross the map and can cause damage if you get hit by them.

The objectives are randomised and include things like holding a bomb and continuously moving so it doesn’t explode, a bit like you’re Sandra Bullock and Keanu Reeves in Speed. Another objective is based around collecting items and jumping through hoops to deactivate portals, while another has you dodging through high hoops to stop Tiko’s forces from getting through. Switching up the objectives each round helps to keep The Otterman Empire fresh, allowing players to try different things out and keeping you on your toes.

You have several characters to choose from in the demo. Astrid dual-wields her weapons, while Lyra is a medic, Croc is a crocodile, and Bubble is literally a fish in a bowl with a mech suit to walk around on land in. Though each has common ground with the jetpack movement, they do have some gameplay differences as well. Croc in particular doesn’t have guns and uses his flying fists to hit anything in sight. The final game will have a roster of ten characters, and can hopefully add some more unique skills to the matches.

While the demo is only centred on one map the design is solid. There are plenty of avenues to traverse on the ground and in the air with plenty of places built for decent combat. Adding in the extra hazards such as the turrets and drones as well as randomised objectives points to The Otternan Empire as being one of those local multiplayer experiences to keep an eye on when it comes to Xbox One, Switch and PC early this year.

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From the heady days of the Mega Drive up until the modern day gaming has been my main hobby. I'll give almost any game a go.