Game Rant's Trung Bui reviews Xotic
Xotic is a first person shooter with a bit of a twist. Rather than be focused on just pure shooter and survival aspects, Xotic focuses more on playing for points. There are enemies to shoot but they really serve more as a hindering factor than anything else.
Developed by indie house WXP Games and published by Valcon, is Xotic worth your time and Microsoft points? Read on to find out.
Xotic is a story about saving the world. Though, it's a little more complicated than that. The story exposition is hammered significantly by the voice-over narrative - which is forced through a filter attempting to give it a futuristic sound but, at the same time, makes it more difficult to decipher what's being said. Basically, the player must stop an evil entity known as the Orb from taking over the planet. The Orb is accomplishing world domination by spreading these "scabs" on the planet surface. The player gets a gun to blow up the scabs and it doesn't go much deeper than that.
Story can be an important aspect in video games, but Xotic's story is secondary to gameplay progression - i.e. numerous levels spread across four different areas. WXG Games could have fleshed it out a bit more, as there is a lot of depth and creativity in the story - but once the gameplay starts, the narrative takes a backseat.
One of the first things players will notice about Xotic is its impressive use of color. Everything pops, whether it be in a darker, underground set level or outside in a canyon, it's all very rich looking - and offers a few Psychonauts-like aesthetics. That said, while the art direction is nice to look at, in the heat of battle, it can also be distracting from the main aspect of the game - shooting for points.
The real draw for Xotic is an opportunity for players to return to arcade-style games where getting a high score was much more important than anything else. Games like The Club or Tony Hawk's Pro Skater come to mind when trying to describe the mechanics of Xotic. When a level starts, it's up to the player to figure out how to destroy the "scabs" throughout the level to maximize point multipliers and chains - while dealing with enemies that dot the level. All enemies must be defeated in order for a level to be completed, so the balance between having to fight enemies and keeping the point chains going is an intriguing challenge. High scores aren't the only motivation either, as Xotic rewards players who can successfully finish the level under a pre-set time limit.
Level design in Xotic also ratchets up the challenge - as the entire 360 degree game space is going to be filled with scabbed areas to shoot. There are several sections to each level and as the game progresses, the player is awarded with tools that enable them to access new areas quicker. Among others, a trampoline pad that allows for a double jump and flight power-ups for faster aerial traversal, help gamers finish levels quickly and efficiently.
Furthermore, experimenting with mods can actually have a negative impact - as the usefulness of the weaponry is directly proportional to how fast they can dispatch enemies. Choose the wrong upgrade and players could see their score do gown. Similarly, low-rate mod will make the actual enemy encounters especially frustrating - since players are handicapped by a lousy cover system and most enemies absorb a large number of shots before dying.
Xotic is a strange title. While certainly focused on offering some first person shooter depth, the draw that could have players coming back is the challenge of topping previous high scores by finding more efficient ways to finish levels. However, the actual first person shooter mechanics, such as upgrades and enemy combat - can serve as a hindrance to the arcade-style shooting gallery emphasis. Priced moderately, Xotic won't break the bank and is an interesting game that can be both very addicting and fun - while at other times, frustrating.
Xotic is available now exclusively on Xbox 360 for 800 MS.
Follow me on Twitter @TrungleFever