Otherwar: Review


This game was reviewed on PC.

Reviewed by:  Raven M

Developed by kental collection and published by Hyperstrange Otherwar is a Tower Defense Bullet Hell mash-up that sadly misses the mark.

You're tasked with building various towers to help you defend the gates of Heaven. As an Angel, you will be dealing additional damage to the invaders from Hell. Managing your time effectively is the key to being good at Otherwar. Despite having an exciting concept, Otherwar misses the mark in various ways. 

An Exciting Concept Not Fully Realized.

A Tower Defense/Bullet Hell combination sounds fantastic on paper. In concept, both genres don't fit together satisfyingly.

Otherwar starts off promising with a simple tutorial that will familiarize you with the game's basics. Once you begin the game you're hit with a difficulty curve, this is because the game assumes you want to play on medium difficulty. Switching the game to easy mode will yield you fewer rewards but it is suggested that you start here.

Accepting the Grind 

Otherwar is particularly grinding because of the skill tree: The skill tree cannot be ignored and will give you a much easier time when progressing through the game. Each skill costs a different amount of experience points. You'll gain experience points by playing the game. On the surface the skill tree is simple to understand, however, gaining the points needed to progress quickly becomes a chore.

Active skills are a cool addition to the skill tree and they add gameplay variety that Otherwar desperately needs. Nailing these abilities will depend on how good the player is at managing their movement and avoiding projectiles.

You'll have to replay levels multiple times to complete their missions and earn all the stars: Replaying levels is fun and adds to the replayability of Otherwar. Going through each level on easy mode before moving on to medium mode was a most rewarding experience, at least in the first stage of the game.

Getting used to the grind in Otherwar is possible but is not rewarding. Even on easy mode, the game feels punishing, and experimenting with towers is often not optimal: This is one of the areas where Otherwar will fail fans of the Tower Defense genre.

While advancing the skill tree will alleviate some of the grind it feels like Otherwar wants you to make progress as slowly as possible. Otherwar does not respect the player's time, effort, or energy and it shows as you advance through the game.

Fun Boss Fights and Varied Enemies 

Otherwar excels at having fun boss fights! The first boss you will encounter is a giant tree. Through the level, you will do as much damage to it as possible before it rushes the lane. Your defenses will have to be on point to beat this boss.

Unlike the typical levels in Otherwar, the boss levels feel like they are rewarding the player's time and energy. During the fight, you will still have to deal with waves of enemies! Your defenses matter not just for the small enemies but for the boss as well.

Otherwar succeeds in the enemy variety as well! You're given a plethora of different enemies to fight and while not all of them seem fair during the game, they are at least interesting to observe. 

The enemy balance needs tweaking, the sheer volume of projectiles on screen is overwhelming in easy mode and towers and abilities do nothing to alleviate that. Multiple enemies feel too weak while dozens of them feel too strong.

The Towers Need Work 

Otherwar has a problem with the Tower Defense side of the game. While on the surface you are given a healthy amount of towers to use, in practice the game is extremely limiting.

Once a level starts you can choose a couple of towers, unless you have played the level before you're going to have to do some guesswork to decide what tower to bring. Some towers work better than others and this is not an issue, however, sometimes the best towers have a poor radius. For example, the tower that boosts the towers next to it has an extremely small radius. The small radius is a problem because you can only have two of these towers on the field at once.

Once the towers get set up, upgrading them is costly. After finishing your setup and the upgrades it is rewarding to watch the towers kill the enemies: Getting to this point feels like too much of a waste of time.

Where is the Bullet Hell?

Otherwar calls itself a Bullet Hell Tower Defense mash-up but it's hard to tell if the game is a Bullet Hell at all. You will spend most of your time avoiding enemy projectiles as you attempt to shoot the enemies making their way to the gates of heaven.

Killing enemies with the angel is the worst part of the game. Often, the kills are not rewarding. Each kill is drowned out by the number of enemies on screen. Having large waves of enemies is extremely fun! But playing the game it feels like you're never making meaningful progress.

Final Score Breakdown

Otherwar has an amazing concept, Tower Defense and Bullet Hell games are extremely popular. However, for this concept to succeed both genres have to blend in a nearly flawless way. Unfortunately, the Bullet Hell side of the game is boring and the Tower Defense side of the game needs balancing tweaks.

Point Breakdown

Otherwar has an amazing concept! If the developers tweak the balancing issues and add more reasons to use other towers the game would feel much better to play. Having a limited amount of tower types you can play is a challenge, one that would be welcomed if the game did not feel so punishing.

Otherwar is a beautiful game, the art style and "story" are well throughout. However, these "story" elements are few and far between. Regardless, Otherwar is thematically solid.

Enemy variety is spot on! Regardless of the balance issues, it is refreshing to see so many enemies and a variety of bosses. Each boss fight is fun and despite them being long every boss fight felt rewarding.

Unfortunately, Otherwar is plagued by balance issues. The difficulty options feel almost meaningless and the towers do not feel balanced. The amount of projectiles on the screen at once is overwhelming and the player is given no time to get used to it. When a new enemy appears and can do something like turning invisible, the player is given no clues to deal with the enemy. Although the tower pricing is fine, experimenting with new towers often feels like a punishment.

For those reasons, I am giving Otherwar a 3 out of 5. The balancing issues can be fixed and the game can be fun despite its flaws. 

Reviewed by: Raven M