Otomaco: Last Jade Journey
Life inside a 3dpi Games title is rough. If you're not being menaced by multicolour pirates, you're going through the weirdest, nastiest magical divorce the world has ever seen. In Otomaco: The Last Jade Journey you're part of a group of three adventurers ambushed in their travels and tossed into a cell. What fate awaits our strange looking heroes? Well, you'll have to play to find out, but if you don't escape soon, chances are you won't be getting a free trip to the Gumdrop Mine in Happyland. Just a hunch.
Otomaco is a mostly standard little point-and-click adventure where you use your mouse to interact with the screen. While viewing the dungeon from the center of the room, you have a 360 degree view, and nudging the cursor to either side of the screen will turn you in that direction. You can click on objects to pick them up, or to get a closer look at certain areas. Keep your eyes open for a changing cursor to let you interact.
But Otamco also has an interesting mechanic that allows you to change the time in certain areas, which you'll need to do in order to solve the puzzles. Whenever it appears, simply click on the dots arranged in a circle in the upper left of the screen to change the time to be whatever you wish. Of course, that's assuming what you wish is limited to day or night. Otomaco, I'm sorry to report, does not currently feature "peanut butter jelly time" as an option.
Analysis: According to the game, Otomaco is not, as I had hoped, a delicious new variety of taco, but a legendary city, and everyone in your merry band of misfits is after it for a different reason. There's a bit of exposition given under the instructions and through the opening cutscene, but it doesn't feel like it's enough in this case. With its fantasy theme and oddball characters, Otomaco would have benefited greatly from a story more closely integrated with its gameplay. There's an appealingly sketchy style to Otomaco's visual design that fans of 3dpi Games's other titles will remember; something like a children's book left out in the rain. The minimal use of sound and ambient noise makes for an atmospheric and involving experience.
Otomaco is a step above 3dpi's last title, Mandrake in terms of design. The area is small and well defined rather than made up of sprawling areas that are awkward to navigate, so while puzzle solving can be fairly abstract, you know that there's a limit to where and what the solution can be. The ability to click back and forth between times at will is an interesting touch, but it feels like a strange addition. You can only affect the time on certain screens, and even if you set it to daylight, when you click anywhere else in the dungeon it's dark again. The lack of consistency makes the implementation feel a little lazy.
It feels like with a bit more tweaking and about twice as much playtime, Otomaco could have really been something amazing. As it stands, this serves more to tantalize than anything else, and feels like a prologue rather than a proper chapter. If you know what you're doing, Otomaco: Last Jade Journey is actually a pretty short game, and you'll have to wait until the next installment to find out what happens to you and your friends. What danger lies around the corner? Will you ever be safe? Will you ever find the legendary city? And why does he get a orange and I don't?! Only time, and Marek Frankowski's team at 3dpi Games, will tell.