April 19, 2024
OTXO is now out for consoles, bringing the endless fight to a new home. Does this call for a toast? The Finger Guns review:

The top-down shooter genre has had an indie renaissance over the past decade; games like Enter the Gungeon, Ruiner, The Hong Kong Massacre and of course, the granddaddy of them all, Hotline Miami are excellent titles, all the whilst serving up something a little different. The genre at this point is not so much saturated as it is in good company, but now OTXO’s console release has turned up to the bar for a stiff drink and guns… lots of guns.

Developed by solo developer Lateralis Heavy Industries, OTXO firmly wears its influences on its sleeves. Yes, it is painfully difficult to talk about OTXO without even mentioning Hotline Miami as it’s arguably the game’s biggest influence, but it also has a hint of John Wick, as well as the dizzying paranoia and aesthetics of noir tropes, then smashing it all together like the world’s hardest cocktail of roguelite, bullet hell action.

Wake Me Up, Before You OTXO

The game opens with your character sitting next to their partner when a bystander drops a mask. Your unnamed character feels compelled to put it on and in doing so wakes up on a beach. Ahead of them is a mansion, with a groundskeeper to welcome you. Where you are is unknown, as the mansion is on a plane of nothingness – the only thing that appears to make sense is inside the mansion are people to kill. OTXO starts as it means to go on, you’re drip-fed lore through notes left behind in rooms, or conversations with the mansion’s staff.

It may be intentionally vague but it really wasn’t what kept me going through my 8-10 hours of playing. Instead, it was the gameplay that was the centrepiece of it all. As I mentioned, OTXO is a top-down shooter of the likes you’ve seen many times before at this point. However, instead of using curated and structured levels like Hotline Miami, OTXO uses the roguelite genre to make every playthrough interesting. The objective is more or less the same as its contemporaries, kill everyone in the room as stylishly as possible.

With it being a rogulite though, I found myself playing a lot more reactionary, as opposed to memorising rooms and sequences to take down enemies. Unlike OTXO’s contemporaries, I wasn’t just dying a lot and repeating a process till I came out successful, I was utilising my surroundings and attempting to adapt to every situation – it’s easier said than done though, despite the game’s mechanics.

Nobody Knew Who I Was Until I Put On The Mask

As I’ve alluded to by explaining the genre OTXO sits comfortably in, the game functions with your left analogue stick for movement and right analogue stick for 360 precise aiming. I had some teething problems with its aim-assist being quite aggressive in my first hour but found it valuable help down the line. At the start of each run, you’ll be welcomed by The Bartender who will have a few drinks that you’ll choose one of for free.

These drinks can vary from something as simple as a damage buff to a certain type of weapon, to the crazier concoctions of turning your discarded weapons into turrets or taking a small percentage of healing when you’re shot. You’ll visit the bartender at the start of every new area and then again halfway through, however, this time you’ll have to spend the money you’ve earned during your run.

To max out your wallet requires you to keep that kill multiplier high by being swift and resourceful. Adding variety by changing up weapons or changing the method of killing keeps your combo high, so you’re incentivised to play like a mad dog or a wolf as the game’s name suggests.

Out in the blood-soaked rooms of the mansion, you also have a kick (R3) to break open the doors in the level as well as acting as your melee in a pinch. You also have a roll to dodge oncoming attacks and finally Focus, which when activated slows down time and replenishes after some kills. The magic for OTXO is how harmoniously all the basic mechanics work, even without a drink to give you a perk. I spent most of my time relying on my own skills than the RNG of what perks I could bring on each run.

Execute Order 666

Had the core gameplay not been so superb to play, I think the in-game economy would have tarnished some of the enjoyment I had. It’s a grind to get enough money to buy a new perk, or to somehow end up in a misplaced room where there’s a gacha machine, that might give you a new weapon or collectable. There are a lot of random qualities, outside of your own ability, that make it not worth being so reliant on.

Once the game knows you’ve had a few attempts, the levels start off a lot tougher than when you first give it a go. I had beat two bosses (out of 8) and got halfway through the third level on my first go, without the use of perks. Suddenly, enemies in the room doubled and I didn’t have any upgrades or new weapons to feel on the same page, making it feel like I spent a good chunk of my playtime clawing back a resemblance of equality. So don’t be like me and try for a perk-less run early (for a trophy, of course) and make the same mistake.

My estimation of how easy OTXO was going to be had dwindled, but in that fading facade of comfort, I found ultimate chaos. Trying to maintain combos, not run out of ammo by picking guns left by the dead and spraying all my surroundings in blood brought back the same adrenaline from when I was playing Hotline Miami. The unknown of what to expect keeps you on your toes and I can see myself going back to OTXO time and time again just to experience the gameplay.

Red, White, Black And Blue

The overall art style is quite simplistic. Environments are big empty spaces with a few decorations; sprites – including your player – are just a head with shoulders and the colours are minimal but bold. The design of the bosses aren’t as inspired as they are to fight, however, you could argue that everything is stripped back for the gameplay to speak for itself.

The music on the other hand will keep up the conversation with gameplay as Lateralis has created some blood-pumping beats to chorus alongside the gunshots. It’s a great soundtrack of visceral electronic sounds with a BPM that matches your KPM (Kill Per Minute), feeling like a neat little blood-red bow to cap off how stylish OTXO is in its presentation and gameplay.

There are a couple of concessions made with how the story is dolled out to you, but I can’t help but be completely addicted to how the game plays. Like many great rougelites, you can make some game-breaking combination of perks or go in with just a pistol and you’ll find your own challenge within the macabre halls. The art style is simplistic but striking, whilst the music deals the finishing blow in what overall is a brilliantly brutal game.

OTXO doesn’t change the top-down shooter formula that we’ve all become accustomed to, but it does couple some gameplay elements from the best to ever do it, making it an undeniably satisfying game to play.

OTXO is available now on PlayStation 4 (review platform), PlayStation 5, Nintendo Switch and PC via Steam.

Developer: Lateralis Heavy Industries
Publisher: Super Rare Originals

Disclaimer: In order to complete this review, we were provided with a promotional copy of the game. For our full review policy, please go here.

If you enjoyed this article or any more of our content, please consider our Patreon.

Make sure to follow Finger Guns on our social channels –TwitterFacebookTwitchSpotify or Apple Podcasts – to keep up to date on our news, reviews and features.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.