Switch version tested
Review code provided
Nintendo Switch has given a warm home to a series of fantastic titles and genres from fresh and new IP’s to a host of remasters and remakes and sitting comfortably in the middle is the indie gaming scene, full of inventive ideas and throwback experiences for players of all ages. Ultimate Games is back to add another title to the collection with Otherworldly, a dungeon explorer horror hybrid, but does this spooky sensation really have what it takes to bring on another toilet paper shortage? Let’s take a look.
Some of the most memorable games in history are the ones that take a simple concept and use it well, Tetris, for example, was a repetitive premise of fitting a bunch of shapes together to form lines, on paper, this seems about as exciting as spending all your time complaining about things you don’t like online instead of enjoying the things you do like, but it became one of the most infamous titles in gaming history because it was executed perfectly. Comparing Tetris to Otherworldly may seem a bit odd as on the surface they are nothing alike, apart from both having a basic premise.
Otherworldly wastes little time getting down to business, after a brief text intro a door opens and you are thrust into a dark dungeon and tasked with collecting £5000 worth of loot before finding the exit and making your escape. Obviously, things aren’t quite that simple, much like the night, the dungeon is dark and full of terrors. With a couple of matches in hand, you must fumble your way through the dank corridors and scavenger supplies like more matches or candles to light your way as well as food to keep your health and sanity in check.
As you explore things start to go bump in the night, from steam venting from floor grating to screams of the tormented echoing down the halls. Visions will appear in front of you and if that isn’t bad enough, some creepy ass monsters are stalking the dungeon ready to have you for lunch. These monsters have some cool designs and are reminiscent of something from Lovecraft or Clive Barker’s brain. You have no way of defending yourself and you will die quickly if they box you in so your only real option is to turn and run while hoping for the best. The creatures are usually easy to detect due to the sound of their footsteps growing louder so you do get a small heads up that they are nearby.
In certain rooms you will also find notes of previous explorers emploring you not to steal the loot as it will upset the demon, obviously, you will pay no attention as it’s the only way to escape but it’s a nice little touch to add a bit more life to the experience. After a couple of trial and error attempts and suddenly realizing I have a map that will be drawn in real-time as I explore, I managed to avoid danger, grab the loot and escape ready for the next challenge, only, there wasn’t a next challenge.
My successful playthrough took me around two minutes and that was all Otherworldly had to offer. What I expected to be a series of dungeons that either increased the challenge of having to find more and more loot or to find key items to open the exit boiled down to a very short experience. Though the dungeons are procedurally generated making each layout different for additional playthroughs, there is nothing more on offer other than grabbing five grand worth of loot and escaping. Obviously, the speedrunners among us will have some short-lived fun with this concept and the game does deliver a good dose of jump scares to keep you on your toes.
Performance-wise, there is little to gripe about, for such a simple concept there would be no excuse for Otherworldly to run poorly, thankfully everything is smooth. The visuals are dark and basic and in this case, it does good justice to the setting, the almost grainy visuals give a good old school feeling and harken back to shows like nightmare and PC titles like Ultima Underworld for those long enough in the tooth to remember. Though there is little music to speak of the real star of the show is the sound effects, jump scares are accompanied by loud effects to ensure you jolt in your seat while pulling a stupid face, headphones and a dark room is the best way to enjoy this one.
Otherworldly is a short and almost sweet experience, it doesn’t do much but what it does do, it does well. For fans of jump scares and speed-runs this has everything you need but the experience is just too minimalistic and short-lived to be worth the price if you are looking for a more fleshed out gaming experience. If you catch it on sale or Ultimate Games add more content down the line, it might be worth your time.
Platform: Nintendo Switch, PC
Release Date: 21/02/2020
No. of Players: 1
Category: Adventure, Survival, Horror
Developer: Ultimate Games
Publisher: Ultimate Games
Download link: eShop