Review – OTXO
Walk into Devolver Digital‘s social media pages and you’ll always see people claiming for a new Hotline Miami. Though not my favorite game released by the magnificent indie publisher, I’d say it is the franchise that put them on the map in the first place. Well, if more Hotline Miami is what you want, I have an interesting proposal. What if I told you there is a game that is, by and large, more Hotline Miami, but better? Yep, you read that right: BETTER. The catch, it’s not made by the original devs, nor is it published by Devolver. If that’s okay to you, then let me introduce you to OTXO.
I am not going to try to dissuade you from the obvious: OTXO is Hotline Miami. It looks, feels, plays and even sounds like Hotline Miami. But I’ll stand by what I said in my previous paragraph: it is better than that game (and its sequel) in every conceivable way. The developers at Lateralis Heavy Industries took what worked in that game, fixed some nuisances, added some interesting elements of their own, and with that, we ended up getting a natural evolution, a much needed improvement. Let’s talk about them, starting off with the most important aspect OTXO has over its main source of influence: being a roguelike.
Not a single run OTXO is like the previous one. You start off with a purgatory bar of sorts, pick up a drink (which also acts like a passive boost) and have at it against loads of enemies. The controls are the same as the ones in Hotline Miami, complete with a dodge mechanic, and a bullet time function. Keep on fighting against them, without dying, and you’ll reach a boss. Kill the boss, and you’ll be able to buy another drink for another loop. Rinse and repeat until your eventual demise.
What differs this particular loop from what Hotline Miami has been doing for so many years, is the fact that you actually have a substantially fair health meter. If you make a mistake, you will be pounded by a metric ton of hot lead, but you won’t outright die. You have enough health to circumvent this situation and prevail. This also allows you to be even more aggressive against enemies, since you’ll quickly realize you can waste a bit of your health as a downside for going full Leroy Jenkins against three armed guards and a komodo dragon (no, really), which will garner you a score multiplier.
This is the beauty of OTXO‘s gameplay loop: it lets you go nuts, even more so than in Hotline Miami. You do feel unbelievably overpowered at times, but that just makes the game more entertaining. It also helps that the music is absolutely FANTASTIC. This collection of overly aggressive electronic bangers just does something to my brain that renders me lusting for enemy blood. I immediately cease to care about trying to be strategic; I just want to mow down everyone in sight. I didn’t even care about the plot, as interesting as its “stuck in purgatory” premise might be. It was all about the moment-to-moment gameplay, and the musical adrenaline jolt to help me out on my spree.
In fact, there is very little I didn’t like in OTXO. One of them is a minuscule and borderline useless nitpick: the fact it’s not available on the Switch, making the Steam Deck the only way you can currently enjoy this game on the go. Seriously, though, my only real complaint is the game’s graphical style.
Sure, the black, white and red palette is impactful, giving OTXO some huge Sin City vibes. That said, when your entire game is presented on a top-down perspective, there are moments where things just start to blend together. This is clearly seen whenever you run out of ammo, and have to look for a new weapon. The limited usage of colors, coupled with the retro-like limited resolution, can be a big hindrance in tense moments.
That is just a very minor nitpick. All in all, I am in love with OTXO. I like this ultraviolent delight even more than I like Hotline Miami. It took everything that worked in those beloved action games, gave players a bit more leeway with an improved health system, and dialed things up to eleven, be it with its insane soundtrack, aggro-as-hell nature, and especially its roguelike elements. They just fit in perfectly with this particular arcade-like gameplay loop. This little gem is one of the best sleeper hits of 2023 so far. With this game, you can finally stop asking Devolver for a Hotline Miami III. This one is even better.
Black, white, and red. These are all the colors you’ll get in OTXO. While I appreciate the stylish approach to ultraviolence, the visuals got a bit repetitive after a while.
The basic twin-stick control scheme from Hotline Miami, which is even better on a controller than a mouse and keyboard, but with some added roguelike elements and a health bar. Excellent.
This electronic soundtrack is just what I need to go berserk. What a collection of bangers.
Fun Factor: 9.5
An improvement over Hotline Miami in every sense of the word, even in its replayability. By adding roguelike elements and a very fair health bar, OTXO is downright addictive. I can only imagine the damage it will cause to my free time once it drops on the Switch.
Final Verdict: 9.0
OTXO is available now on PC.
Reviewed on Intel i7-12700H, 16GB RAM, RTX 3060 6GB.
A copy of OTXO was provided by the publisher.