Reviewed by Odhrán Johnson
Bullets and mayhem combined with a surprisingly personal story is how I would describe Lateralis Heavy Industries’ latest release OTXO. being the third Super Rare Originals roguelike title to be released this year after Lone Ruin and the console port of Post Void, OTXO is chalked full of style, flair, and an addictive gameplay loop that saw me spending hours on end battling the same faceless gunmen and creatures throughout the complex structure of the game’s The Shining style mansion.
A brief scan of OTXO’s Steam page would have you believe that this is simply another Hotline Miami clone but taking a closer look you’ll find a game that while sharing similarities with Dennaton Games’ top-down run-and-gun is very much its own unique experience.
Hotline Miami questions the very reality of your actions with tight and sometimes excruciating gameplay with very little room for error while OTXO feels like it rips Hotline Miami down to its fundamental creative skeleton and takes it in a completely different direction. Gone is the sequence structure and story of the former instead replaced with a roguelike outline with varying abilities akin to the boons unlocked in titles like Supergiant Games’ Hades. The monochrome visual aesthetic juxtaposed with the bright red of your enemy’s blood only seeks to elevate the violence you as a player are committing. The fast nature and push-forward gunplay mentality of the game’s combat have you frantically rushing from room to room clearing out enemies and cycling through a diverse arsenal of weaponry. Similar to titles like Post Void I found myself exhausted at the end of a run in the Mansion. I regularly found myself getting up from my PC to take short breaks from the gameplay loop as it can be overwhelming at times and requires immense attention to detail if you’re looking to get the best possible score or acquire the most amount of money to spend on in-game buffs and new weapons.
Content Warning below: Depression
Throughout my playthrough, I couldn’t help but liken OTXO to that of the song Hotel California by the Eagles. I’m aware that that’s a strange comparison to make but given OTXO’s narrative and characters the Mansion feels like a place that you could spend your time fighting through your entire life and despite finally reaching the exit you’ll never truly be able to leave. Nate Haddock, the game’s solo developer noted in an interview with Safe In Our World (SIOW) that he “wanted to make a game that was specifically about my thoughts and experience with depression.” When speaking to Nate myself in an interview which will be available soon he noted that the basic enemies are simply a copy of the player which I believe could be interpreted as overt reverence to fighting your own inner demons. OTXO’s depth in its semi-hidden story resonated with me quite heavily. As a 23-year-old recent graduate living through a major housing crisis and struggling to find work, it is very easy to feel worthless sometimes. Haddock said in the interview with SIOW that “when I have to deal with my depression it’s like a constant fight.” My own battles with depression have felt almost identical to this sentiment and having this theme play such a heavy role in what is otherwise a fun run-and-gun roguelike was truly a surprise. This is Nate’s second release on Steam after his previous title Dogworld and given my time and experience with OTXO I can’t wait to see where his next creative endeavour takes him.
All of the above is to say that OTXO is an extremely fun game with even more to discover about it if you’re interested. I cannot recommend it highly enough.
OTXO: The latest release from solo developer Lateralis Heavy Industries, OTXO is a truly enticing and engrossing top-down shooter experience. – odhranjohnson
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Thank you to Super Rare Originals for providing us with a code for OTXO.
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