I never really got into Hotline Miami like a lot of others did. The 2012 indie smash captivated a lot of people with its extreme violence and even more extreme difficulty. Yet for all its popularity, Hotline Miami didn't leave as much of an impact on the video game world as one might have thought. There were no waves of pretenders, not a lot of people iterating on the basic concept.
More than a decade later, Lateralis Heavy Industries has taken up the task of bringing the mechanics of Hotline Miami into the modern age with OTXO. If you've been longing to kick in doors and splatter goons again, this might be what you've been waiting for. As to everyone else? Get good and maybe you too can get to the heart of this mysterious little title.
You awaken on a beach wearing a strange mask with no real memory as to how you got there. The last thing you do remember is being out with your beloved and watching a man discard something - something that you were compelled to pick up. Whatever happened between those moments has changed you. You have become otxo - a wolf, a hunter, a being of pure violence.
As an otxo, you can't truly die, at least not permanently. You dwell forever in a cycle of violence. The only way out is through a mansion at the center of your new prison. Reach the heart of the mansion and you'll have a chance to go free - but only if you can fight your way through the thousands of heavily armed men that are determined to stop you.
The plot of OTXO is intentionally vague. At the outset, you'll have nothing more than your goal: Reach the center of the mansion. But many other aspects of the story - the nature of the mansion, the identities of the other people in the mansion, how you ended up here, what happened to your beloved, what it even means to be an otxo - are things you'll need to discover as you fight your way through the mansion.
As mentioned before, OTXO is a game heavily inspired by the Hotline Miami titles. The fundamental gameplay loop is very similar: Enter an area full of armed opponents, kick in the door, kill everyone before they kill you, and hopefully make it to the end with a sliver of life left. There are, however, some notable quirks that make OTXO a little more interesting.
OTXO has some roguelike elements, mainly in how the mansion is laid out. Each run starts in the Infinite Foyer, with the player getting a brief respite at a strange bar where powerups are for sale. Stepping through the door, the player is met with a stage randomly assembled from several prefabricated rooms. After beating the first boss, the player is led into a random branch of the mansion, one featuring enhanced enemies and/or new enemy types.
The enemies of OTXO are particularly fierce. Aside from the sheer numerical advantage and the powerful weapons they carry, they are also hyperaware of their surroundings and will quickly gun down the protagonist given the chance. But an otxo has one big advantage: Bullet time. The player can slow down time enough to evade enemy bullets and draw a very careful bead on each target. The bar for this refills quickly, and it behooves the player to use it any time it's available.
OTXO is a hard game - not the hardest I've ever personally seen, but certainly unforgiving. As is typical for games like this, the first set of stages go very easy on the player which can create an illusion of skill. It's only when moving to the next area - and encountering enemies with superior arms, reaction times and a range of gimmicks - that the player is humbled.
Of course, the difficulty is a big part of the appeal. OTXO is a game designed for people who want to have their nerves tested over and over again. A player with sufficient patience and skill will eventually learn all of the mansion's secrets. As for everyone else? Well, there's no shame in quitting. I won't make fun of you, anyway.
OTXO is a roguelike action game with mechanics inspired by Hotline Miami. It is a very difficult game and is designed primarily for people who relish an extreme challenge and replay value.
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