Xotic is almost what I've been waiting for from the shooter genre but not in a bad way. Xotic is, on the surface, your straight forward arcade-style shooter with power-ups and high scores. However, as you play throughthis game, you'll quickly realize that while the game does love its arcade fun, it's also a very story-based and intelligent game. Xotic does a lot of things and while the game is not a purely arcade shooter like it has been advertised, it's much better for it.
The story behind Xotic is that there is a being that transcends to an immortal form of matter, nearly a god, but it becomes lonely. After awhile the “sphere”, as it's called, begins go to planets and taking control of the populace for some sense of entertainment and social contact. The problem, besides the brainwashing bit, is that each world quickly dies off after the sphere begins taking control. You are a galactic guardian who, with a weapon with several modes (much like in Hard Reset), are tasked with stopping the Sphere. You happen to look like a cross between a plant and a Little Big Planet doll as well.
As you play through the game, you enemies become more part-organic and part-mechanical, combing technology and flesh. Through the game, your environments become more and more urban. If you haven't gotten it by now, Xotic is a very entertaining and fun warning about the rapid acceleration and reliance on technology and science; like what the monolith was telling Bowman in 2001: A Space Odyssey before Kubrik scrapped the narration. The story is simplistic and effective, which I can really appreciate, but the greater upside is that the gameplay is so colorful, fast paced, and retro that the game never feels like it's pounding your head about (it would be rather to not see, though).
The gameplay, on the other hand, is far from sophisticated or deep but that works in its favor. There aren't too many enemy types but to make up for that, Xotic has plenty of power ups and little crystals and secrets to collect. It's a bit hard to describe but it's nevertheless a good bit of fun. However, this is where the problems with Xotic start to stem from. The art design and story are all focused on a very serious and deep shooter while the gameplay and environment elements thought they were in a silly, over the top, old school shooter. This wouldn't be too big of an issue if not for the art design. While the visuals are not my personal taste, they are no doubt impressive and very detailed. A lot of time went into the atmosphere and mood of each area but it all clashes with these sparkly gems and floating bubbles in a very distracting way.
Many of you can probably get over that critique with the art department but what will stay solid is how short the game is. I never reached the final level but in two and a half hours, I was only two away from the finale. While it is true that I was playing on Easy, even on harder difficulties, I doubt that many hours could be added on. There is a highscore board which will provide some replayability, along with the multiple difficulties, but those are the only elements driving the game along. High scores and difficulties are great and all but replayability should be based on content first and foremost. Xotic is nearly abusing high scores and difficulties thanks to its short campaign. There is no multiplayer as well.
Xotic has a few shortcomings, few but deadly, but it is a very fun and thought provoking game while it lasts. That's more then I can say for Bodycount, the other modern shooter that tried to be like an old school shooter and failed harder then imaginable in all aspects. Is this game worth $10? Well, that'll come down to how much you enjoy the gameplay and how much you care about high scores. I highly recommend this game with many, many “but”s and “if”s. I had a great time with Xotic and I love seeing games trying to be more then just toys. If only it could have lasted longer.
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