OTXO Review – Noir Violence

OXTO is a gritty, violent Noir-themed roguelike that isn't afraid to try its own thing.
Otxo Review
Image: Lateralis Heavy Industries

OTXO is a spiritual successor to Hotline Miami, full of the same fast-paced violence action and extravagant violence that made the Hotline Miami series so popular. Though the game is way more forgiving than its spiritual forbearer, it still presents an engaging experience for those willing to love themselves in the esoteric and violent world of the Infinite Foyer.

OTXO (pronounced oh-cho) begins with an opening as abstract as the world the game builds around it. Sitting on a train with your significant other, a stranger drops a bright white mask at your feet. Compelled by forces beyond your control, you put the mask on, and all but instantly black out on the metro.

You awake on a war-torn beach styled after the fortifications at Normandy. Wandering towards a derelict bunker, you meet a stranger, who explains that you are not the first wearer of the mask to wash up on this beach, but are the most recent in a long time. He explains that why wearing the mask you can’t leave, and you can’t die, as you will only wash up on that same beach again.

The only way to break the curse of the mask, and save your loved one who was also transported here, is to fight ahead to the mansion overlooking the beach and destroy the heart located inside. However, droves of armed enemies will stand in your way in hopes to slow you down in your inevitable crawl toward the heart.

Equipping you with his old service rifle, the man explains that only extreme violence will allow you to succeed. Making just one pit stop at a small bar, where your first drink, of course, is free, you enter the Infinite Foyer and a world of extreme violence.

Oxto 1
Image: Lateralis Heavy Industries

OTXO plays as a top-down action Roguelike with a unique emphasis on making the player feel like a John Wick-ian badass amidst waves of overwhelming foes. Each level consists of procedurally generated rooms full of enemies, all of which you must clear to proceed. You do this through extreme violence, upgrading your starter gun with the more powerful armaments your enemies so graciously drop for you to blast their friends away with.

Because of the game’s similarities to Hotline Miami, I expected the difficulty to come from uncompromising, punishing damage. After taking several hits in a row, I soon began to realize this wasn’t the case, and my expectations were holding me back from experiencing the game how it seemed to want to be experienced.

In OTXO, you are the threat. You have a health bar that is quite generously larger than your enemies (save for instances of boss battles) and it refills on each room you enter. The threat does not come from your inability to catch a bullet or two, but instead from the mods of foes that can form and bullet-hell the screen if you aren’t direct, confident, and just a little bit careful in your approach.

The game gives you a few tools to incentivize this playstyle. First off is Focus, a bullet-time mechanic with a generous duration and fast recharge that allows you to move fast enough to dodge enemy bullets. This is useful, as they do have pretty fast reaction times and will usually be shooting at you before you shoot at them.

Second are doors, which are locked to both you and your enemies and must be kicked open to proceed. This might not seem important at first, but your ability to choose who you take on first and to corral enemies (ala keeping doors shut) becomes incredibly useful as the game picks up in difficulty.

Oxto 2
Image: Lateralis Heavy Industries

Finally is the combo system. While I admit, I wasn’t super clear on how to rack up the big combos, it was obvious that the game wanted me to use them. Killing enemies stylishly racks up a combo meter that increases the money you get from kills. OTXO very obviously wants you to play like an action movie protagonist, and not a cover-creeping timid human.

The roguelike elements of the game are presented threefold. First, as mentioned before, each room is randomly selected from a huge swath of pre-made rooms, meaning that no two runs in OTXO is going to be the same.

The game also features over 100 unique abilities to use to make you feel like even more of a threat to the generic goons in your path. These are presented in the form of drinks at the bar, which can be purchased using your hard-earned blood money. Upgrading the bar’s stock allows you to have more variety, permanently adding the abilities you want to the stock, which is something I greatly appreciated.

Image: Lateralis Heavy Industries

Finally, every single moment of combat in OTXO is, in a way, randomized and left up to chance. This is because there are no ammo dumps in OTXO; Once your weapon runs dry, the only way to keep going is to take your foes’ weapons. These only ever have like one or two mags in them, so you’re constantly switching guns, left up to chance with what weapons will end up in your hands.

In a lot of ways, OTXO feels like a traditional roguelike that’s broken away from a lot of the formats. Inspired by games that came before but not unwilling to try its own thing, which is a fantastic combo that you rarely see in a lot of titles these days. I would go so far as to say OXTO is bold in its presentation, and offers something you won’t see elsewhere, and not only for its gritty Noir setting.

The Final Word

OTXO is a great roguelike that’s built on the solid foundations of the genre while still being willing to deviate from some design tropes to deliver on its theme. I’m hard-pressed to think of something negative to say about the game, and while not everyone is going to love the game’s style, there is a ton to appreciate here.


OTXO was reviewed on the PC. Find more detailed looks at popular and upcoming titles in the Game Reviews section of our website! OTXO is available on Steam.

Erik Hodges

Erik Hodges

Erik Hodges is a hobby writer and a professional gamer, at least if you asked him. He has been writing fiction for over 12 years and gaming practically since birth, so he knows exactly what to nitpick when dissecting a game's story. When he isn't reviewing games, he's probably playing them.

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