3D platformers have successfully made a comeback, and it’s great to see. I think the kids would say they were so over, and now they’re so back (I am old enough to remember the first arrival of 3D platformers if you couldn’t already tell). The indie scene is now filled with a great variety from the genre, and this is where Boti: Byteland Overclocked, from Poland-based Purple Ray Studio, attempts to fit in.
For a sample of recent games, there has been the N64-inspired Toree series and the Saturn-style Lunistice. There are collect-a-thons like Here Comes Niko and more demanding platformers like Demon Turf. On the AAA side, there’s Ratchet and Clank: Rift Apart, It Takes Two and the hugely successful Sonic Frontiers – which is something that hasn’t been said about a 3D Sonic game for a long time. That’s not including the best 3D Sonic game that isn’t actually Sonic – Spark the Electric Jester 3.
In short, there’s now quite a bit of competition in the space. It’s not enough just to be a 3D platformer that riffs on an old favourite (I’m looking at you, Yooka-Laylee), it actually has to stand out as a quality example of the genre.
Boti is a bright and shiny 3D platformer about little robots in a world based on the insides of a computer. Your character, and maybe a co-op buddy if you like, is tasked with fixing parts of the world and protecting it from threats. You run, jump, glide, do a bit of combat, and take on some light puzzling. You know, platformer stuff.
I'm just going to rip the band-aid off now - Boti is not a particularly interesting or well-crafted entry into the world of modern 3D platformers.
Let's start with the (mostly) positives: Boti is aiming to be a visually pleasing platformer with a bit of something for everyone - call it the Ratchet and Clank school of platforming but without the guns. Its base mechanics are solid enough – the jump and glide feel nice and there’s a neat magnet mechanic for puzzles and grappling hooks (though traditionally magnets are bad for computers). The combat is basic, but there’s not much of it, unlike the dialogue from your two quipping sidekicks that provide a large amount of the voice lines. One is cheerful, the other is sarcastic and together they made me turn the voice volume down.
As for the visuals, I have to give the game points for trying to outmuscle its mostly lo-fi peers in the graphics department, but ironically for a game about fixing computers, it’s full of technical issues.
A couple of post-release patches have smoothed things out somewhat, but I played much of the game with occasional crashes and many textures being so muddy I couldn’t read the text that was on them.
And then there’s the cardinal sin of 3D platformers – a camera that sometimes has a mind of its own.
Unfortunately, it’s hard to recommend Boti: Byteland Overclocked. It’s not particularly awful in any way, but other games do every part of it better. Perhaps if you’re really jonesing for a new co-op 3D platformer, you could pick this up, but otherwise, it’s better to look elsewhere.
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