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OTXO review- a lightning fast roguelike that'll leave your heart racing

OTXO review- a lightning fast roguelike that'll leave your heart racing

OTXO is Hotline Miami if it were a roguelike game, where every step and bullet is the difference between progression and repetition.

As someone who adores the Dark Souls series and soulslike games in general, it’s safe to say I love it when a game actually challenges me.

While being an entirely different genre, roguelikes scratch that itch when I’m in-between FromSoftware playthroughs, with my all-time favourite being Hades. Roguelikes such as Hades work best when you can see and feel a clear and continuous improvement in your gameplay, and OTXO serves that feeling on a golden platter whilst ensuring you leave room for dessert.

Check out OTXO below

To put it simply, OTXO is Hotline Miami if it were a roguelike game, combining the lightning-fast shooting from a top-down perspective with upgrades and enhancements that are lost upon death.

The game takes place in a massive hotel, with rooms full of enemies waiting to deplete your health bar to zero. In order to progress from room to room you need to make sure the only heart that’s still beating is your own as you tear through progressively challenging and intelligent gunmen, there are even some bosses sent your way at regular intervals.

Visually the game isn’t much to look at when you’re just standing around, but it really comes to life when you’re knee-deep in the action. There are a lot of whites, greys and browns in the colour-palette, though that quickly changes when the hotel is splattered with the blood of your enemies. After a while you’re no longer a brutal killing machine rampaging through a hotel, you’re a talented artist painting a blank canvas in various shades of red.

Super Rare Originals

It’s also filled to the brim with action, with each scene playing out like a John Wick film, where you’re always aware of your own mortality but don’t have time to dwell on it as hesitation or a loss of focus means death, and death means starting over from scratch.

This means you’ve got to plan your moves ahead of time but be ready to adapt on the fly. For example if you can see three enemies behind a door, one with a shotgun and two with assault rifles, you’re best chance of getting out unscathed would be getting into a position where you can take out the shotgun guy first, then either go in for the kill with the other two or wait outside for them to come to you.

Fortunately you can make things a tad bit easier with a dodge roll that’ll see you duck under incoming bullets, allowing you to close the gap for better accuracy or jump between cover while you reload or swap to a new gun. Movement felt fantastic in this way, as every step and roll felt like it could be the difference between life and death. That being said I sometime found it difficult to tell what objects were flat on the floor and which were solid ones I couldn’t walk through, something that became especially frustrating when I thought I could duck behind the corner of a door only to realise a plant pot I didn’t spot was blocking away, all while I’m being riddled with a hailstorm of bullets.

Super Rare Originals

The game also features its own version of bullet-time, which slows time to a crawl whilst retaining your quick reaction time and your movement speed. This ability depletes quite quickly and can take a while to recharge, so using it effectively, and sparingly if you can, is vital especially in later portions of the game.

Of course when you first start you’ll likely have no idea how to use any of these tricks and tools effectively. You really feel the pressure during those first few runs, as you sloppily grab whatever weapon you can find before unloading an entire clip into a wall by mistake, your intended target laughing as he sends you to the grave.

But then you try again, and again, and again until you become the Babayaga himself in action-packed playthroughs that had me thinking back to that awesome scene in John Wick: Chapter 4 when he’s charging through the abandoned building with a dragonbreath shotgun. That whole segment of the film lives in my head rent-free and if you haven’t seen it, look it up, it’s grand.

But back to OXTO, and that sense of progression that all good roguelikes need to be worth a damn. Unlike other titles in the same genre, when you die in OXTO you lose everything, there are no permanent upgrades. This means you’re as strong on your 50th attempt as you are on your 1st, but what the game can’t take away from you is your experience.

Super Rare Originals

Upgrades come in the shape of a bottle, served by a bartender eerily reminiscent of the one in The Shining. These magical, alcoholic potions don’t come free though, so you’ll have to fire some shots before you can down some shots.

The effects these beverages bestow upon you are random. Some will reward you with more coin at the cost of half your healthbar, some make your enemies explode with bullets upon death, and some extend your magazine capacity. It’s luck of the draw as to what’s on offer when you stop by the bar, but if nothing catches your eye you’re more than welcome to move on and save your cash.

You can also pay towards the importation of other drinks that get shuffled into the line-up, which is well-worth doing so you have more options during a run.

While upgrading felt strategic and opened up the possibilities for a multitude of player builds, one of its biggest drawbacks is you take absolutely nothing with you upon a death. On the one hand, this keeps progression tied to your personal skill level so it feels great to tear through multiple rooms without a scratch knowing it’s because you’ve improved.

Super Rare Originals

On the other hand there’s only really so much you can master with the controls before the rest ends up being luck of the draw. Sometimes the enemy AI moves predictably allowing you to get the drop on them, and other times they turn into Robocop with their accuracy and strategy. With that in mind it’d be nice if there were at least some permanent upgrades to acquire, like more health, armour, or weapon capacity.

There’s nothing worse than having a really good run, where your skills are on full display and you’ve collected a variety of powerful upgrades, only to fall to some bad luck and lose the job lot. It’s often infuriating, and whilst Hotline Miami could be just as brutal you at least knew that upon death you’d just replay the level over again, not the entire game.

Regardless, OTXO is still a fantastic over-the-top action game, and if brutal challenges and unforgiving setbacks are your bread and butter it’ll likely be a game for you. Even when a run doesn’t go your way and you’re booted back to the beginning it’s hard to shake the feeling that you’re an unstoppable badass who just got a little careless but will do even better next time.

It’s a game that rewards patience, strategy, and above all else skill, and it’ll provide you with hours and hours of replay value, as it makes you the lead star of your very own action movie.

Pros: Skill-based gameplay that gives you a satisfying sense of progression, varied list of upgrades and weapons to find, challenging enemies and bosses that’ll keep you on your toes

Cons: Nothing is kept or gained from a death which can feel frustrating

For fans of: Hotline Miami, Hades, The Binding Of Isaac

8/10: Excellent

OTXO is available for Nintendo Switch, PlayStation 4, PlayStation 5 (version tested) and PC. Code for review was supplied by the publisher. Find a complete guide to GAMINGbible's review scores here.

Featured Image Credit: Super Rare Originals

Topics: PlayStation, PlayStation 4, PlayStation 5, Nintendo, Nintendo Switch, PC