OTXO‘s protagonist may be badass, but he’s also a thundering idiot. Who else would find a weird mask on a train and then just put it on?
Clearly he’s not played Splatterhouse, watched The Mask or even seen a single episode of The Twilight Zone. And, like Splatterhouse, OTXO (out now on PC) has you blasting through a mansion searching for your lost loved one. But there’s also a huge helping of Hotline Miami thrown into the mix. It results in a roguelite shooter that’s taxing but so satisfying when you’re stepping over the last corpse.
A roguelite take on Hotline Miami might sound like a terrible, terrible idea, given how frequently you die while playing that game. We can confirm that OTXO‘s near-monochrome mansion is packed with enemies, human and otherwise. But you can temporarily switch into slo-mo to give yourself an edge.
And, instead of dying from one hit, you can take a reasonable amount of damage. Playing OTXO, we never got tired of switching to “focus” and kicking in doors. Focus lasts just long enough that, if you’re not careful, it’ll run out at an inconvenient moment.
There’s the usual selection of weapons available, from pistols to shotguns and beyond. Though what’s particularly sneaky is that one of the game’s characters lets you filter out weapons. If you want you to stop bad guys wielding shotguns, you can do so. But since you survive by plundering their weapons, it means you’ll never get one. Decisions, decisions.
OTXO sports some strange, strange bosses. After blasting our way through men in suits, we did a double take when we hit the first boss. We’re not going to spoil the surprise but it wouldn’t be out of place in a Fromsoft game, ridiculous names and all.
Speaking of names, OXTO is pronounced oc-cho but we keep seeing it as OXO. We half expected to fight the giant floating head of Lynda Bellingham. Yes, we’re shamefully old and if you get that joke, so are you.
Murdering OTXO’s Matrix agents, lizards and other nasties is a lot of fun. But there were a couple of occasions when we resented going all the way back to the beginning. It’s not technically permadeath, as explained by the game’s lore, but OTXO is a game you’ll really have to work at to conquer.
The more you play it, the more you’ll start devising your own little techniques. As cool as slo-mo/focus is, there are better ways to deal with your enemies. And, given how the levels change, you’ll have to adapt or die.
At one point, we took to blasting one baddie, hiding round a corner and then annihilating his fellow henchmen. But in the next area we were in a bathhouse with steam everywhere, where we could barely see five metres in front of us. That plan went right out of the window.
Ultimately, OTXO stays the right side of frustrating. It may take a lot from Hotline Miami (and a little from Splatterhouse) but it still has a character all its own. And while it doesn’t go full-on horror, there’s an unsettling Twin Peaks air around the whole thing.
It’s never going to be a cakewalk, but this monochrome murder-em-up stays the right side of frustrating and it’s a hell of a lot of fun. Just leave any masks where you find them, okay?