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OTXO review – Roguelite Hotline Miami

OTXO review 2
Image: Lateralis Heavy Industries

You’re on a train with your partner. When it stops, a man across from you stands up and gets off, dropping a mask in the process. You pick the mask up, and against your better judgement, put it on. The next thing you know you wake up face down on a beach. You get up and approach the mansion ahead of you. A man standing at its doors informs you that your partner is somewhere inside. And so begins OTXO, a violent top-down shooter that’s essentially a roguelite Hotline Miami.

A roguelite Hotline Miami genuinely is the best way to describe OTXO. It has the same top-down viewpoint, a banging soundtrack that powers your every move, and gameplay that sees you clearing out floors of enemies, moving room-to-room while blasting away and picking up weapons dropped by your enemies. You can even make use of doors to take down your enemies when the opportunity arises, a swift but powerful kick eliminating those stood close behind. And so as you’d expect, the moment-to-moment gameplay is exhilarating and exciting. Challenging and rewarding.

There are some key differences between OTXO and Hotline Miami, however. The first is obvious from screenshots on this page: its visual style. While Hotline Miami is full of lurid colour, OTXO has a limited colour palette of just black, white, red and various shades of grey. It makes it stand out, for sure, but it also gets in the way of the gameplay at times, with weapons on the floor not always being easy to spot depending on where they land.

OTXO review
Image: Lateralis Heavy Industries

Another difference is that in OTXO you have a health bar. Combined with the ability to momentarily slow down time so you can more easily avoid bullets and line up shots on your enemies, the odds are stacked much more in your favour here. It’s a necessity, though, what with OTXO being a roguelite. In Hotline Miami it’s somewhat expected that you’ll die multiple times trying to clear one floor. Here, you’re expected to complete many before finally meeting your demise.

The problem is, the roguelite format doesn’t really do OTXO any favours. On each run, you enter the mansion, though before the action begins proper you get to have a drink at the bar. Drinks here are what grant you perks: everything from you being accompanied by an attack dog to your weapons having a faster rate of fire. Clear a few floors and you might find yourself in the bar again, allowing you to gain additional perks, though only if you have enough coin available from killing enemies. Chain enemy kills and you can increase your multiplier, earning more coins per kill.

OTXO review
Image: Lateralis Heavy Industries

There are, of course, boss fights as well. And after each boss fight things get a little harder for you, with your enemies being upgraded one way or another. But, despite all of this, OTXO doesn’t do the best job of making each run feel fresh and exciting. Even after just a few runs, clearing out samey-looking rooms and facing off against the same bosses, you’re likely to find tedium seeping in. This is a game that’s probably best enjoyed as a palette cleanser between others.

If you’re a fan of violent twin-stick shooters, it’s well worth checking OTXO out. Its roguelite elements perhaps don’t do it any favours, especially when there’s not much that keeps its gameplay feeling fresh between one run and another, but it provides a lasting challenge. Ultimately, we’d recommend players check out Hotline Miami first that offers a very similar experience. And if they still want more, OTXO will be waiting.


OTXO review – GameSpew’s score

This review of OTXO is based on the PS5 version, with a code provided by the game’s publisher. It’s available on PS4, PS5, Switch and PC.
Editor in Chief // An avid gamer since discovering the wonders of the Acorn Electron in the '80s, Rich has nearly played more games than he's had hot dinners. Not one to put all his eggs in one basket, Rich is happy to play games of all genres, but he particularly enjoys racing games and anything that's full of non-stop action, especially if it includes a good dose of humour, horror or crudeness!