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PAX East 2020 Preview: Otto and The Ancient Worlds

Like Mega Man but with a lot more whips

As I said in some of my previous PAX East 2020 preview articles, the Indie MEGABOOTH was pretty much my favorite area of the entire show. There were so many creative and fun games spanning pretty much every genre.

One game that caught my eye as I was walking through the expo floor was Otto and The Ancient Worlds – an 8-bit-style 2D platformer, much in the same vein as Mega Man. The game stars an archaeologist named Otto, who happens upon an ancient library containing magical books filled with living stories of myth and legend. When a mysterious villain unleashes these books into Otto’s world, he must rely on his trusty whip and return the legends back to their books and defeat the evil.

Developed by Obvious Gravity, the PAX East demo featured two levels – the Introduction stage and Cherry the Frog Bride stage, with the first being the easy level and the latter being more difficult.

I started off with the Introduction stage to get the feel of the controls and also because I’m a baby. Otto’s primary weapon is his whip, and his move set is pretty par for the course, but he does have the ability to slide, which is faster than his normal walking speed, and can also wall jump/slide.

The game’s Introduction stage was fairly simple, with it introducing me to its core mechanics and concepts – hit bad guys with whip, slide under gaps, wall jump to reach elevated areas and don’t fall into pits. Most of the enemies I encountered in this level were of the animal variety, like porcupines and bats, but as you go deeper into a cave, you do battle against a giant, spear-wielding skeleton and a strange, giant-headed Trojan warrior who throws projectiles at you.

Along the way, you’ll collect coins, gems and other treasures that add to your point total; it didn’t seem like these had any impact on the game beyond points, but the treasure hunting aspect could have a more meaningful part to play in the finished game. You’ll also eventually find Persephone’s Goblet, which allows Otto to heal a portion of his health. Lastly, you can also pick up small, green bags that give you magic points. These did nothing in the Introduction stage.

Towards the end of the stage, you encounter Hephaestus riding a giant Trojan “donkey” (his words, not mine), and he proceeds to chase you through the level, where you have to jump and slide your way to escape being crushed.

After completing this level, I decided to try out the Cherry the Frog Bride stage, which was quite a bit more challenging but also a lot more fun. This stage feels like it comes from a fairy tale story book, featuring enemies, like a tuxedo-clad frog who throws pumpkins and giant rats that, when destroyed, emit exploding … cherries? It’s all a bit weird really.

Playing around with the controls, I realized I could transform into a vampire by pressing the RB button, which was quite a surprise, to say the least. Each time vampire Otto (or maybe Count Otto?) strikes with his whip, he unleashes a trio of vampire bats who damage enemies. This consumes several bits of your magic, so you’ll want to conserve your vampiric powers or you’ll run out of magic points before you know it.

This level ends with a showdown against, you guessed it, a giant frog bride named Cherry. Apparently, she ate an enchanted cherry that turned her into the frog by a witch, who you also can meet if you explore the level enough.

Overall, I really enjoyed what I played in Otto and The Ancient Worlds. The final game will have six selectable stages and when you defeat each boss, you’ll gain an artifact weapon that gives Otto special abilities and transforms his outfit.

Like in Mega Man, each boss is weak against a particular weapon, so you’ll need to do some experimenting to see what works best.

Otto and The Ancient Worlds will release in 2020 for PC, Mac, Xbox One and other to be announced platforms. You can find more information on the official website here.

Chris Powell

Chris is the editor-in-chief of Mega Visions Magazine and the co-creator of SEGA Nerds. He was the former managing editor of Airman magazine and has written for publications like Joystiq, PSP Fanboy, RETRO magazine, among others.
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