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Otteretto – Review

Otteretto was a game I discovered during the 2021 Steam Next Fest that took the idea of a Match 3 styled game but gave it a unique spin. I was hooked then and I’m delighted to say on full release, I’m hooked now too. It is tough as nails but very rewarding.

If I could manage a palindrome this long, I’d be in puzzle heaven!

Otteretto focuses on palindromes – patterns or words that are the same when viewed front to back or back to front. The game has several modes but they all have one goal – find and clear blocks as palindromes. A blue block on its own is 1 point, yellow-blue-yellow would be 9 points and a red-yellow-blue-yellow-red chain would be worth 25 points. There’s no time limit to worry about, its you against the board in front of you to make the best scores possible with what you’ve got. Repeating colours next to each other doesn’t score as highly so it makes you try to chain things in the most complicated way possible. Colour blind modes are available that place shapes or patterns on the blocks too.

Classic mode sees you trying to reach a certain score threshold for each level to replenish the blocks you have. You must target big scores because from about level 5 onwards, the score requirements jump right up (just as an otter swims by in the background). There are tactics here too – sometimes its better to line up blocks by taking the odd 1 pointer and then you’ve got a 99 point chain ready to roll. You just need to spot the opportunity and not leave one giant stacked column on its own as that will limit your scores. Beating challenges then unlock other modes over time.

Puzzle mode adds in a chalk tool so you can sketch out your thinking as you go – very helpful.

Puzzle mode gives you blocks of certain lengths that are one giant palindrome for you to work out. Here, a chalk option is available for you to use to sketch out an idea before you commit to it. My single gripe, aside from this being a single player only game, is that this chalk tool would work so well in other modes too – I’d love to see it added. Then there’s a Tetris styled mode that keeps adding new lines of blocks to the bottom every move you make. Don’t let your blocks overflow or its game over – and it is very unforgiving! Lastly there’s a wall mode which doesn’t give you full range to make any palindrome anywhere as the walls block your moves. All four modes feel distinctly different whilst carrying the same mechanic in different ways.

A daily challenge is also available for daily leaderboards with the same blocks and each mode has its own scoreboard too. It directs you to a website that shows your ranking compared to other scores but there are no names transferred – just scores. It is the rank that matters most but it does feel a little depersonalised if I’m being nitpicky.

Otteretto is a blast to play though. I love that you can map out your moves at your pace, think a few moves ahead and really plan your attack. It feels like a puzzle game that is down to observational skill and very little chance is involved because there are no gimmicks or power ups to throw you off. A great addition to the puzzle genre and one I urge others to pick up.

Final Thoughts
A fine puzzle game that feels uniquely challenging and relaxing at the same time. Engrossing.
Great twist on a match 3 style game.
Engrossing, relaxing and intensely satisfying to play.
Each mode feels distinct and different whilst using the same mechanic throughout.
Leaderboards and daily challenges.
I want that chalk tool for other modes to help my poor brain out.
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