It’s rare that I get a game to review and honestly have no clue what to make of it, even after plenty of playtime.  Usually it doesn’t take too long to establish exactly what the developers were aiming for.  And then it shouldn’t take too long after that to figure out if they succeeded.  So congratulations are in order to Media Bandits Studio, because their game OTO has left me completely clueless.  I’ve been putting off this review for a week because every play session I had with it ended with me completely befuddled.

OTO is a physics based dexterity tester.  Of sorts.  The idea is you’re playing as some balloon thing that you must steer through a series of 99 gates.  The game has an art style that has reminded myself and others of Insanely Twisted Shadow Planet.  Unfortunately, looks are as far as this game will get to being compared to a good game.  OTO‘s biggest problem is having an unresponsive control scheme.  The balloon-circle-thingie that you control uses a realistic thruster similar to that found in the arcade classic Lunar Lander.  That system works fine for outer space fare, but for an auto-scrolling dexterity game, it’s beyond stupid.  When you use the thrust, you have to fight with gravity for a short bit before gaining any semblance of control over whatever the fuck it is you’re supposed to be controlling.  However, even on easy settings the game scrolls fast enough that you’re bound to miss some of the gates because you don’t control your whatever as much as you aim it and hope for the best.

Not that there’s any penalty for missing the gates.  At least I don’t think there is.  I’m sure it’s supposed to be more of an honor thing that you can clear the game hitting all 99 gates.  I didn’t.  Not even close.  And I don’t care.  This is not a compelling game in the slightest bit.  It’s so fucking abstract that I couldn’t give two shits less about it.  Abstract concepts can work in gaming.  Tetris for example.  Here, the game takes the minimalistic approach too far.  As a result, OTO doesn’t even feel like a game, or an experience, or even art.  It feels like a mess of ideas thrown together without any rhyme or reason.  I understand that this is a title created by honest to goodness gaming professionals who wanted to do something other than conventional games, but come on guys!  You have to give people some reason to want to play.  Like two teenagers looking for the make-out spot on Abstinence Mountain, I must declare that there’s no fucking point here.

I do appreciate attempts at originality, but taking a control scheme from one genre and shoehorning it into another is suicide.  Any rational person would tell you that.  You can’t play Super Mario Bros. with a steering wheel and you can’t play Call of Duty with a Rock Band guitar.  If the developers wanted Lunar Lander style physics, they should have tailored a game that fits it.  Lunar Lander is a game that requires patience, calculations, and a desire to be bored out of your fucking skull.  OTO only got the skull fucking right.  Well, you know what I mean.

OTO was developed by Media Bandits Studios

80 Microsoft Points still aren’t sure OTO wasn’t some kind of elaborate hoax against me in the making of this review.

I’m celebrating 50,000 unique page views by giving away 1600 Microsoft Points to one lucky follower of mine on Facebook.  All you have to do is follow me for a chance to win!  Click the link, hit “Like” and you’re in!  The drawing will be held December 1, 2011.  I don’t spam with my Facebook.  I just post article updates and the occasional “thank you” when my site hits a milestone.  So what are you waiting for?  Enter already!

About Indie Gamer Chick
Indie game reviews and editorials.

55 Responses to OTO

  1. Fair assessment. I don’t get on well with Lunar Lander-type movement at the best of times, but what made this worse was, as you said, the pointlessness of it. I never went further than the trial version because I couldn’t figure out what I was missing. There had to be something. But from what you’ve said, I wasn’t missing a thing.

    Also, I couldn’t get through even one gate. Not one. That’s how much I hate Lunar Lander controls.

  2. Nice graphics, nice music…this game looks quite polished…but you are right, it’s incredible hard to control the main character in the game. That’s a pity. I saw a lot of potential in this game.

  3. Patrick says:

    Loose crit. Be more constructive with your feedback.

  4. Omochabox says:

    You know this game has multiplayer for a reason?

    The gates act as a way of gaining power ups, that are supposed to be used on other players. Thats the concept of this game, its a dollar and a throwback to retro games like lunar lander but rather than just ripping it off it tried to do something different.
    I see it more of an exploration in the indie culture of referencing retro titles, taking key design aspects and trying to translate them into a modern game.
    oto does that quite well for me, i love lunar lander, i love multiplayer and it gave it a fresh new look.

    Grab some friends if you have any and try it with them. Never played it solo, i sort of feel like that isnt the point of this game

    • Kairi Vice says:

      The developers specifically told me that they felt the game should be just fine solo. Otherwise I wouldn’t have reviewed it at all.

    • I think ‘has multiplayer’ is the key phrase here. Not ‘IS multiplayer’, like Take Arms, but ‘HAS multiplayer’. It also has single player, and the single player should work.

      Not that I have anything against you for enjoying it. If you get something out of it, great. But if your best defence of the SP problems is ‘try multiplayer’, then you must admit the SP is lacking.

      • Todd says:

        Alan, in some cases it’s true, but would you knock a Mario Party or a Battlefield for having a weak SP? If I reviewed BF3 based on its SP alone, it would get pretty low marks. If I focused only on the MP it would be my game of the year.

        Regardless of your answer, it’s still unprofessional to review a title without delving into ALL the content. It doesn’t matter if the developers told her she’d “be fine” just playing SP, the fact that MP content wasn’t considered and ignored is lazy journalism.

        Soundly, you can’t really compare using lunar landing gameplay mechanics to using a guitar for CoD. That is a sensational example even by Fox News standards.

        Another thing that kind of bugs me is that value isn’t even factored into this review. Several times Kairi references Guitar Hero, CoD, and Mario games–all 30-50 dollar games. You simply cannot put a small, $10 dollar, indie title up against $30-50 dollar AAA titles developed by gigantic teams of people.

        • Kairi Vice says:

          Well since I’m not a professional journalist I guess I’m in the clear.

        • Kairi Vice says:

          The developers specifically requested this review. I told them I cannot review local-only multiplayer, I don’t have the time for it. They said that’s fine, please review it. You’re coming across like a real douche because all this stuff is stuff I went over privately with the developers, who by the way, took this review a lot better than you have.

        • I don’t want to have a big back-and-forth debate in the comments section, so I’ll let this by my last word on the matter.

          I’m puzzled by these sentences appearing in succession:

          “would you knock a Mario Party or a Battlefield for having a weak SP? If I reviewed BF3 based on its SP alone, it would get pretty low marks. If I focused only on the MP it would be my game of the year.”

          followed by

          “it’s still unprofessional to review a title without delving into ALL the content”.

          A consistent argument would be more effective.

          In any case, reviews are always opinion pieces. You’re entitled to disagree with Kairi’s opinion (and I frequently do), but yours is no more ‘right’ than hers. You’re entitled to dislike the way she reviews, but wouldn’t the best solution be to stop reading? You’re not going to change her mind, and she’s not going to change yours.

          Personally I feel that, while value should be taken into account, a game of any price – even a free one – should be held to some standards of functionality. A cheap game that doesn’t really work doesn’t magically become good just because it’s cheap, and more than a McDonalds hamburger is the equal of a steak just because it’s cheaper.

          Anyway, that’s my last word on the matter. Good night all.

          • Todd says:

            Even if you claim to NOT be a professional journalist you still have a public voice, and should strive to give games a fair shake and with some tact. But hey, if you want to be the Harry Knowles of video game journalism, that’s perfectly fine by me. I’m just pointing out the flaws in your review.

            Also, calling you users a douche because they have constructive feedback on your writing? Pretty classy. You just sound butt hurt because I’m chinking away are you hardcore gamer armor. Maybe if you put some more “fuck’s” in your article people will forget about your poor syntax and focus on how SUPER FUCKING hardcore you are.

            Go listen to Kittie. PEACE.

            • Kairi Vice says:

              So even though I didn’t want to review the game, that I had no ability or intent to do multiplayer and the developers still said “we want you to review it anyway” I should, what, do what I said I wouldn’t/couldn’t do? I’m so confused.

  5. Craig says:

    All I hear is WAAAH. Seriously. Grow up, haters.

    I didn’t like this game, simply because of the controls. If this game had better controls(read: not shitty), I would’ve bought it.

    And Kairi, what’s with your repeated use of the term “skull fucking”? Makes me uncomfortable. >_>

  6. MarkC says:

    I like how your review doesn’t even mention that there is a multiplayer, which is really the selling point of the game. It’s fine that you got the OK from the developers to review just the single player… but the last you could have done is mention it.

    Another thing it fails to mention is that this game costs 99 fucking cents. You can barely buy a candy bar for that…maybe you’d rather have a candy bar, I don’t know, but it should be mentioned at the least.

    What a shitty review.

    • Kairi Vice says:

      Actually, it mentions that the game is 80 Microsoft Points. I didn’t mention multiplayer because the developers themselves thought highly enough of the single player campaign that they encouraged me to review it without playing MP.

  7. J_Sho says:

    .Seems to me everyone has missed the point of what indie games are

    I haven’t played OTO’s MP either (I will try it eventually for the medals), but have found the SP quite enjoyable. True, it is hard to control at first, but that is the case with any new (or updated) gameplay scheme. At first I couldn’t get through the gates, but the more I played and adapted to the controls, the better I got. Now I’m up to 78 gates. If people crap on every new control scheme that comes out (especially people who only played the free demo of a dollar game), then all you will get are re-skinned clones of clones of clones, with developers only making games they know will sell and pander to the masses (I’m talking to you zombie, ninja, avatar games).

    Which brings me to my point, isn’t that the “overall idea” of any game? To provide a challenge that drives the player to adapt to something “different”, get better at it, then reward that player for beating it? Especially in the independent category, where making something new and different should be the driving force behind every developer. I’m a huge fan of SKATE, but when I first played it (being a Tony Hawk player) I hated the controls until I got comfortable using them. Now I look at Tony’s controls like wtf is this?
    Not to say OTO is without its issues. For instance, there aren’t any checkpoints. Trust me, at 78 gates you do not want to go all the way back and start over. But that’s me personally. Also, I would have enjoyed several “smaller” levels.

    Plus, and I know Alan already said his piece on the 80msp argument. BUT SERIOUSLY, it’s a dollar!! You might hate this game, but the music alone is worth a freaking dollar.

    I usually agree with Kairi on her reviews (DLC Quest being one, funny little game) but to me, she totally missed the mark on OTO. It’s not my favorite game type (JRPG fan), but it is by far the most original and challenging game that I have played in a very long time. Stop running from something different people, keep this up and we’ll keep getting tired ass zombie games

    • Kairi Vice says:

      There’s lots of games on this site that cost a dollar.

      “but the music alone is worth a freaking dollar.”

      No. It’s. Not. If you want to pay $1 for music, hit up iTunes. If you want to pay $1 for something pretty, go pay that much for a screensaver. I wanted to play a game that I enjoyed. I didn’t enjoy it. I don’t know what is up with you people, but this is a review website, and all reviews are personal opinions that not everyone is going to agree with. I think OTO is one of the very worst XBLIGs I’ve ever played and I would tell someone they should sooner spend their money on a temporary tattoo out of a vending machine then buy this. It’s fucking boring and horrible. In my opinion.

      • NateDog says:


        • Kairi Vice says:

          I’m getting lots of comments coming from the same IP. I’ve been down this road before. NateDog and Patrick come from the same IP. So does Patrick and Todd from above. Seek counseling oh MPD suffers, and be gone from thy site.

      • J_Sho says:

        Point taken about the game vs music, screensaver comparison.
        However, everything else I said is valid. OTO tries something new and to just shit on it like you did is not doing the industry any favors.

        • Kairi Vice says:

          What am I supposed to do? Endorse a game I did not enjoy at all? Sorry, that’s not how being a critic works. I’m here to tell people what games I liked, not dispense blowjobs on the grounds that the game is different.

          • J_Sho says:

            I don’t believe anyone is saying you need to automatically like a game because it is different. Like I previously stated, there are things I don’t like about the game. But I respect that the developers at least tried something different with OTO. I guess you would say it is more about respect than blowjob dispensing. That’s about it from me. I do enjoy your reviews most of the time, we just differ on this one.

      • Kairi Vice says:

        I must cater to the user base? Don’t I best do that my sharing MY opinion and not the opinion of the masses?

        People are confused on what a critic offers. It’s a subjective personal opinion, not a “well I hated it BUT it’s a good game and YOU should buy it even though I think it’s worse than the SS”.

        • Kairi Vice says:

          Side note: I don’t actually think this game IS worse than the SS. Raventhrone maybe but not OTO.

          • Omochabox says:

            Well it seems you missed the point of my post.
            Opinions are like arseholes, everybody has one.
            You’re choosing to set yourself apart from the legions of people who post uninformed opinions on the internet and tout yourself as a reviewer.
            A good reviewer will highlight the good and the bad and explain why they formed their opinion whilst understanding what is purely personal taste and what isn’t.

            Like i said, had you reviewed this game by dividing it up into audio, art and gameplay it would have been a more favorable review but like many other silly ‘gamer girls’ you put emotion before information.
            Show a little respect for indie devs everywhere and learn to review properly instead of “enhancing” your literary skills with swearwords and hoping people will like you for it.

            OTO is a good game for what it is, in my opinion but i accept its not for everyone. I’m not going to sit and insult the devs and people who think differently to me, however i can be fair in saying its not a perfect game.

            But then what game is, and if someone, anyone enjoys it… then isn’t that the point of games?

            • I had to come out of retirement for this one. Are you really playing that Victorian “you can’t do stuff, you’re a girl” card? Way to scupper your own credibility, skipper.

            • Kairi Vice says:

              “Like i said, had you reviewed this game by dividing it up into audio, art and gameplay it would have been a more favorable review”

              Um, no it wouldn’t have, because I don’t give a flying fuck about art or audio. Just gameplay. And you are a magnificent retard for failing to comprehend that. Oh, and playing the emotional girl gamer card? Speak not of that which you don’t understand, butthurt virginal loser.

              • Omochabox says:

                Actually I’m a girl… but nevermind. Sorry i don’t define my reasoning with my breasts.

                I’m quite astonished you just said you don’t give a flying fuck about art or audio in games when they’re quite a huge proportion of the feedback you get in games.

                Much of what we experience in games is relative to art and audio. From your other reviews and this one you have never stated you are just reviewing gameplay. Much of what makes games marketable is the art and audio is often a huge factor in immersion.

                As a reviewer of independent games you might want to learn more about the games industry and what defines indie development. Often games of this nature are experimental, OTO is clearly not trying to be some great new unique gameplay offering.
                It seems like the devs were trying to offer something different. Its a shame you couldn’t appreciate this from only reviewing half the game and instead seem like you are on some crusade to slander it.

                I find indie development to be a very unique part of the games industry and perhaps if you are trying to focus on this you might want to learn to be a little bit more respectful and professional in your reviews. Your responses have been quite puerile and if you actually want to be taken seriously as a reviewer i suggest actually thinking before you type 🙂

                • Kairi Vice says:

                  “It seems like the devs were trying to offer something different. Its a shame you couldn’t appreciate this from only reviewing half the game and instead seem like you are on some crusade to slander it.”

                  So I’m supposed to praise the game for being different even though I did not like OTO at all.

                  Clearly you did like it, and good for you on that. I didn’t. Get over it.

                  • Omochabox says:

                    A good reviewer would never see anything so black and white.
                    I dont expect you to praise a game you do not enjoy, but talking about it like its trash is hardly being able to show objectivity.
                    Being able to share your own opinion alongside a factual, informed and neutral review is a skill.
                    Clearly one you do not possess

                    • Kairi Vice says:

                      I go into EVERY game neutral. Just because that doesn’t come across in the writing doesn’t mean it’s not so. As an aside, you need to look up objective in the dictionary and ask how that in any way relates to a review.

                      “not influenced by personal feelings, interpretations, or prejudice; based on facts; unbiased”

                      Reviews are SUBJECTIVE personal opinions. If I don’t allow my personal feelings to not be included, then it’s not really my opinion of the game anymore. I wish you could understand that, but clearly you don’t possess a functional brain stem

                      Anyway, I’ll spare you the agony of dealing further with this life-altering review. Be gone.

  8. Eric says:

    The thing that turned me away from this game is you would take damage as you got CLOSE to the edge of the screen. Like you had to play in the 4:3 safe area or else the game kills you.

  9. Dcon6393 says:

    Games like this seem to cement my thought that the most important thing in an indie game (as opposed to a AAA game) is the controls. you have to feel like you have complete control over the character you are controlling. Anything short of that dramatically cuts the fun out of the experience

    • I’d take that one step further – the most important part of ANY game is the controls 🙂 It’s an interactive medium, so if the player feels like they’re not in control then you lose the #1 draw of games over other forms of entertainment.

      Game sure looks purdy tho…

      • Dcon6393 says:

        The thing is, when a AAA game has below average controls they can make up for it with atmosphere, story, etc. Not in all cases, but some cases. Indie games are limited in the things that can create such enthralling atmospheres a lot of the time

  10. Craig says:

    When it comes to games, the controls are the first barrier to enjoyment of a game. If the controls get in the way of learning how the game mechanics work and having fun with them, as a developer you’re actually TRYING to turn people off to your game. Games can be challenging and fun, WITHOUT complex control schemes, or controls that make the game more challenging than it has to be.

  11. Media Bandits Studio says:

    Hey everyone,

    This is Ben from Media Bandits Studio,

    Wow. This is the first time I’ve read through the entire thread and am surprised by the debate OTO and Kairi’s review of it, has caused.

    Listen guys, I talked to Kairi personally and she let me know her feelings towards OTO days before the review came out. We respect her opinion and that of everyone who plays our game. Yes, we would have liked the multiplayer reviewed, but we do believe the singleplayer can stand on its own as well. Does that mean we’re wrong to think that? no. Does it mean Kairi is wrong to think it’s shit? no. That’s the beauty of what we do, we take chances to create something that appeals to a variety of taste. Some are gonna like it and some won’t, simple as that. But we, as developers, took that chance and fully expect the results. Good or bad.

    Like Kairi said, we (at Media Bandits) are all professional developers, but this was our first stab at making an indie game ‘out from under the critical eye of Publishers’. So, in this circumstance, we’re just as new to making indie games as the next indie developer. We really wanted to update a classic control mechanic and modify it to work within the confines of our overarching game design. Clearly it works for some and not for others. I’m a Senior Animator at a AAA studio and this was my first attempt at design, yes… I take full responsibility for the design. I love our game, controls and all and if others don’t, then I totally respect your opinions and would love to hear constructive feedback on how to make it better.

    In short…
    If you enjoyed OTO, then great. If you hated it, then we’re sorry it doesn’t work for you and maybe you’ll enjoy our next game. Which will not involve Zombies @ J_sho 🙂


    • Kairi Vice says:

      Thanks Ben. Although you should likely have a talk with a Mark C because he posted from the same IP that you just did and was a little more hostile, apparently unaware that I had already discussed with you that multiplayer would not be covered.

    • Excellent response.

      That’s why I wouldn’t criticise anyone for liking a game I don’t like (only for being excessively defensive about it). I personally didn’t enjoy OTO much, but if others did, good for them. I’m genuinely pleased. I want indie games to do well, partly because the whole scene deserves more attention, and partly because I know how much someone’s ‘baby’ can mean to them.

      But negative feedback is also useful. I don’t work in games at all, but I’m a writer and I know how much I appreciate contructive criticism. There’s always room to improve, but someone needs to point it out.

    • Ben,

      I haven’t been able to play it yet, but regardless of gameplay it’s a really beautiful art style…great work on the presentation!

    • J_Sho says:

      Well stated Ben

      I’m really enjoying OTO and do not find the controls hard at all. But I have been playing for a few days and have had more practice. Although, if you decide to make OTO 2 or update this one, I would recommend checkpoints or shorter levels. Just some objective feedback.
      Glad to see the trolling and bickering has died down, now back to reviewing.

      Oh, and I do like Zombie games, there’s just been a flood of them lately. ha

  12. Pingback: Super Kablamo « Indie Gamer Chick

  13. Tim Roast says:

    I’m loving the conflict in the comments here. I might have to check out the game now to see what all the fuss is about.

    BTW I enjoy the reviews here. Keep up the good work.

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