OTXO – PS4 Review

Otxo, stylised as the rather shouty OTXO, comes from Idaho-based solo dev Lateralis Heavy Industries aka Nathan Haddock and publisher Super Rare Originals. Cited as inspired by the likes of 2012’s Hotline Miami and the likes of the interminable John Wick film series, ‘Otxo’ is the Basque word for wolf, and for some reason it’s deemed necessary to let you know the pronunciation is ‘oh-cho’. Quite why we’re not sure, as it doesn’t make any difference to the game you experience. As opposed to ‘ocho’ which means eighty in Spanish rather than Basque.

Otxo self-identifies as a violent top-down shooter with roguelite elements. Practically that means you get items that carry over from one stage to the other as well as weapon unlocks as you proceed via a gachapon mechanic. As well as the cited Hotline Miami, we were reminded of early PlayStation release Loaded by Gremlin Interactive and Bizarre Creations’ PS3/360 era The Club. Both sadly acquired and wound down after their acquisition by Infogames & Activision respectively. The former in terms of the top-down perspective and over the top gore and the latter in terms of the scoring multiplier. It’s less acutely felt but soon decays.

Your nameless faceless protagonist wakes in the surf on a beach and finds themselves entering a hotel which, for us at least, brought to mind the Outlook Hotel from The Shining. Just without a maze and them scary twins. There’s plenty of redrum though. You’re briefed via an inevitable tutorial stage in which you are taught that you can roll with , enter focus mode with , discard a weapon with and shoot with . At least the shoot part is an actual trigger anyway.

The problematic button mapping comes from kick. Kick is essential as it’s simultaneously your method for a melee kill as well as your only means of moving from one room to another. The problem? It’s mapped to R3. Yes, you have to click down the damn stick to smash a door open. You can always remap your button mapping, but once you’ve played the game you sorta become accustomed to how yer man Nathan designed it, flawed or not.

This is less of a problem on the rather excellent DualSense controller on PS5, but when the PR deigned to send us a PS4 only review code, we’re reciprocating by playing on our bog standard Destiny: The Taken King PS4 from 2015. We suffered with our asshole stepson on a midnight launch so it seemed fair we try Otxo on base hardware on this occasion. It coped OK. That is until we had to use R3. Even our non-FPS abused DualShock 4 didn’t like this. Practically every time we pushed R3 to breach a door, we had to pull the stick back out to reseat it afterwards. So yes, R3 as a standard button can get in the sea along with Nigel Farage and Laurence Fox.

Smashing (back?) doors in remains fun if you’re playing on a DualSense at least, so we’d recommend you play on PS5 instead if you’ve the option, lest you fall victim to a slack analogue stick. It’s likely to become an irritant such is your frequency using it, to the extent we’d suggest remapping the button to instead as it’s not assigned elsewhere by default.

At the outset, you have a basic eight round carbine rifle. This is fine with the initial enemies, but once you’ve exhausted the two clips you’ve no option but to pick up a new weapon or resort to melee via our pal R3. Joy! There’s a wide arsenal of weapons available when you defeat enemies from normal pistols through shotguns, assault rifles and the like. There’s also grenades for multiple kills and kunai for instant kills. Rates of fire and spread behave as you’d expect from their action movie analogues at least. We hesitate to say real-world unless you’re a second amendment type who has enough ordnance to necessitate owning a gun rack.

Unlike The Club, the scoring in Otxo is strictly from killing enemies quickly as opposed to hitting additional targets into the bargain. Your main motivation is to earn coin that lets you either use the bar or redeem a chunk of change in the aforementioned gachapon machine. Unlike Shenmue, the gachapon machine takes a big chunk of your cash and doesn’t unlock Sega related knick-knacks, but extra guns. We’re not massively clear as to whether they carry on from one run to another, but we hope they do.

You can also slow time down via focus mode like that Neo fella off The Matrix or like Remedy’s excellent Max Payne series. This is often the difference between making it through a stage unscathed, especially when combined with a door breach or rolls. When you roll facing a table or couch, you’ll vault it instead. The idea is to keep moving so it’s harder for enemies to zero in on you anyway.

The bar is where you can get de-facto power ups by way of booze, for example a higher rate of fire while in focus mode. Or the ability to find more grenades during a run. There’s also one that mimics Master Chef’s recharging shield from the Halo series by those bothersome neighbours. Talking of which, will we see Halo on PlayStation now that Microsoft have done a Sega? Admittedly the Xbox is more successful than our beloved Dreamcast ever was, but it’s an intriguing prospect.

The pace is fairly frantic if you want to get a decent score multiplier maintained, also proving difficult for this reviewer to reliably take screenshots in the midst of the action. The only practical way to do so was by taking a gameplay video and capturing off that but the dev has seen fit to watermark the videos with a dirty great OTXO logo as you can see from the screenshots. It’s all a bit Koei Tecmo and seems entirely unnecessary from an indie game. Otxo is fairly distinctive on its own so we’re not sure what purpose it serves.

After you’ve cleared a series of rooms you’ll face a boss fight, the first two of which are a basilisk that you should defeat fairly easily and a salamander thing. Unlike the main stages, you either retain your existing weapon or choose a new weapon of a similar heft, so hope you’re not carrying a pistol at this juncture. You’ve then got unlimited ammunition for the subsequent battle in which you have to avoid their special attacks and unload into them at the same time. Unless you’re unlucky enough to loiter where their specials hit, you’ll generally be OK. We came unstuck in normal stages for the most part, with only a couple of deaths in boss fights.

After an initially stilted start to Otxo where, we have to confess, we didn’t particularly enjoy ourselves, we had an extended session and found ourselves getting into something of a groove. Not a particularly engaged groove admittedly, but enough that we spent a fairly enjoyable afternoon playing Otxo rather than staring at a database.

In conclusion, Otxo is less a wolf in sheep’s clothing than a black sheep. It’s alright but neither is it startlingly engaging either. The focus and evasion default mappings are just that bit too close to one another for you to occasionally muddle them up with one another when the action ramps up to a frantic level. The less said about R3 being assigned to door breach or melee the better, moreso on DualShock 4. The gore is deliberately over the top but somehow never feels hugely excessive either. Otxo is pretty derivative all told, but if the likes of John Wick and the Hotline games are your bag, you’re likely to get a kick out of this.

7 Overall
+ Speedy action even on a base PS4
+ Fast and furious action when you get into it
+ OTT gore somehow never feels too much
- Default R3 mapping for melee/door breach is terrible on a DualShock 4
- Not startlingly original, even down to cribbed power-ups
- A little bit of a one-trick pony in terms of what’s on offer
Otxo is a fair top-down shooter with roguelite elements. The faster you slay, the more you pay. It’s quite derivative and some of the default control mapping leaves a bit to be desired, but it’s fairly fun. It’s a fair way to spend a few hours, if not massively engaging. If you liked the Hotline Miami games this’ll be your thing. Us, we thought it was OK.

About Ian

Ian likes his games weird. He loves his Vita even if Sony don't anymore. He joined the PS4 party relatively late, but has been in since day one on PS5.

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