I’ve played plenty of roguelikes. I’ve also played top-down shooters, where you can slow down time and dodge bullets. So when I first went into playing OTXO, I wasn’t expecting anything new. But what I wasn’t expecting was how polished OTXO feels. And adding a few new elements to the genre, OTXO quickly became one of my favorite roguelikes.
OTXO’s story is a bit dark and mysterious. The opening scene has you and your girlfriend sitting on a train. A man in front of you gets up, and as he exits the train, he drops a mask. Your character picks it up and puts it on. Next thing you know, you’re on a beach. As you search your surroundings, you find a mansion. The groundskeeper tells you you’re now the new OTXO and must fight through the estate to save your girlfriend.
To play into this dark aesthetic, the entire game is top-down and in black and white. Your character and the enemies you fight don’t have detailed faces. The only other color in the game is the red blood left behind in your wake of vengeance.
OTXO is a twin-stick shooter, and you’ll use many weapons. You start each run with a gun; however, because there is no ammo to pick up, you’ll swap out your weapon for the arsenal that the slain foes drop.
The first couple of levels are easy once you get the hang of how the game plays. But the further you continue in your quest, the more of a bullet-hell OTXO becomes. Luckily, you have a few mechanics at your disposal.
The first is the ability to slow down time, or what the game calls, using focus. A meter determines how much focus you can use, and once it’s gone, you’ll have to wait until some of your focus replenishes. However, the meter does refill reasonably quickly, so don’t be stingy on its use.
The second ability is rolling, which allows you to dodge bullets. Unlike focus, there are no restrictions on how much you can roll through bullets. It may sound like all you need to do is roll through the entire level. But once you enter a room, the doors won’t unlock until all the enemies are eliminated in that level.
You also can kick, which can be used to knock down doors or do damage to your foes. If you run out of ammo, the next best thing is to kick your way out of a situation until you find another gun.
You also have alcohol on your side. Each run starts with a trip to the bar, and the first drink is free of charge. Alcohol gives you different abilities or skills to help you through your run. And there are a lot of different types of drinks. I won’t list them all, but a few that I liked were drinks that allow you to toss a gun and it’ll turn into a turret, a drink that gave you health back whenever an enemy splattered blood on you, and a drink that added exploding barrels to the rooms in the mansion. Subsequent visits to the bar during your run will cost you coins, but the alcohol does stack, so you could simultaneously have several different effects on your character. You can also buy new drinks from a bootlegger, who will order the alcohol to be added to the regular rotation to be stocked at the bar. These are a bit pricer, but they are also much more potent.
This brings me to one of the game's more interesting features, money. You earn money by killing your foes, but the faster you run through the level, the higher the bonus kills, which earns you even more money. You can go through the levels cautiously, but doing so won’t reward you with as much money. Money is also used at gacha machines found in random events, and these will unlock new weapons for you to use.
After you’ve cleared several rooms, you’ll take on a boss. The first boss is always the same and isn’t much of a challenge. The subsequent bosses are challenging. Once you die, you’ll need to start your run again. But the game feels so polished and fun to play, so doing another run doesn’t feel like a chore.
One minor criticism is how the furniture sometimes blends in with the background. I ran into something a few times, not knowing it was a couch or other piece of furniture. It only happened occasionally; I could fix my mistake once I figured it out.
Final Grade: A+
I love OTXO - it’s a fast-paced, twin-stick roguelike that does everything right. The mysterious story will keep you intrigued, but even without the narrative, the gameplay is so tight and polished that I found myself playing this game way late into the night.
Review code provided by publisher