OTXO Review – Black Violence

OTXO is a spiritual successor to Hotline Miami, filled with the same fast-paced action and hyper-violence that made the Hotline Miami series so popular. Although the game is more forgiving than its spiritual predecessor, it still offers an engaging experience for those who want to love themselves in the mystical and violent world of Infinite Foyer.

OTXO (pronounced oh-cho) begins with an abstract hole like the world around which you build the game. A stranger sits on a train with your partner, and drops a snow-white mask at your feet. Spurred on by forces beyond your control, you don the mask, and instantly pass out on the subway.

You wake up on a war-torn beach modeled after fortifications in Normandy. Wandering toward an abandoned hideout, you meet a stranger, who explains that you are not the first mask-wearer to wash up on this beach, but that you are the latest in a long time. He explains why you can’t leave the mask on, and you can’t die, because you’ll be washing up on the same beach again.

The only way to break the curse of the mask, and save your loved one who was also transported here, is to fight in advance to the mansion on the beach and destroy the core inside. However, groups of armed enemies will stand in your way hoping to slow you down in your inevitable crawl towards the core.

Equipping you with his old rifle, the man demonstrates that only extreme violence will allow you to succeed. At just one pit stop at a bistro, where your first drink is free of course, you enter Infinite Foyer and a world of extreme violence.

Photo: Lateralis Heavy Industries

OTXO plays a top-down roguelike with a unique focus on making the player feel like John Wick’s Ian amidst waves of overwhelming enemies. Each level consists of procedurally generated rooms filled with enemies, all of which you must clear to proceed. You can do this through extreme violence, upgrading your start-up gun with more powerful weapons that your enemies will gently drop for you to blast their friends away.

Because of the game’s similarity to Hotline Miami, I expected the difficulty to come from Relentless Damage. After taking several beatings in a row, I soon began to realize that this was not the case, and my expectations were holding me back from trying the game as it seemed to me that I wanted to be experienced.

At OTXO, you are the threat. You have a health bar that is generously larger than that of your enemies (except in cases of boss fights) and it refills in every room you enter. The threat doesn’t come from not being able to catch a bullet or two, but instead from shuffling enemies that can line up and shoot at the screen if you’re not direct, confident, and a little careful in your approach.

The game gives you some tools to stimulate this style of play. The first is Focus, a bullet mechanic with generous duration and fast reloading that allows you to move fast enough to dodge enemy bullets. This is useful, as they have very fast reaction times and will usually shoot you before you shoot them.

Secondly, the closed doors are yours and your enemies and must be opened to move forward. This may not seem important at first, but your ability to choose who to go up against first and smash enemies (while keeping doors closed) becomes incredibly useful as the game becomes more difficult.

Oxto 2 pics
Photo: Lateralis Heavy Industries

Finally is the combo system. While I admit, I wasn’t entirely clear on how to put together the big decks, it was clear the game wanted me to use them. Killing enemies neatly sets up a combo meter that increases the money you get from kills. It’s very clear that OTXO wants you to play like an action movie hero, not a creepy shy human being.

Roguelike elements are presented threefold. First, as mentioned earlier, each room is randomly selected from a large pool of pre-made rooms, which means that no two OTXO runs will be the same.

The game also features over 100 unique abilities to use to make you feel like more of a threat to the generic goons in your way. These are served in the form of drinks at the bar, which can be purchased using your hard-earned blood money. Upgrading your bar stock allows you to have more variety, and permanently add the abilities you want to the stock, which I greatly appreciate.

OXTO 3 pics
Photo: Lateralis Heavy Industries

Finally, every combat moment in OTXO is, in a way, random and left to chance. This is because OTXO has no ammunition dumps; Once your weapon runs dry, the only way to continue is to take your enemies’ weapons. These only have one or two mags, so you’re constantly switching weapons, and left to chance with which weapons will end up in your hands.

In many ways, OTXO feels like a traditional roguelike that breaks out of a lot of formats. Inspired by games that came before but not wanting to try something of their own, it’s a nice combination you rarely see in a lot of titles these days. I’d go so far as to say that OXTO is bold in its offering, offering something you won’t see anywhere else, and not just for its gritty Noir setting.

The last word

OTXO is a great roguelike that builds on the solid foundations of the genre while still being willing to deviate from some design paradigms to present its theme. I’m hard-pressed to think of anything negative to say about the game, and while not everyone will love the game’s style, there’s a lot to appreciate here.


OTXO reviewed on PC. Find more detailed looks at popular and upcoming titles in the game reviews section of our website! OTXO is available at steam.

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