Xotic is an abstract first-person shooter with unique challenges
There was a time, oh so long ago, where the almighty score reigned supreme in video games. Getting your name to the top of the leaderboard was the only thing that mattered and you would stop at nothing to earn your place among the greats. It seems recently that this mentality is starting to invade the somewhat stale first-person shooter genre. With games like Hard Reset starting to put the focus on doing everything possible to get the highest score, it feels a lot like the new embracing the old. Now we’ve got this game Xotic that places even more emphasis on score, but how high on the leaderboard will it climb?
Xotic is a bit difficult to describe. It’s clearly a first-person shooter but the almost complete lack of enemies to fire on will throw traditional shooter fans off at first. You see, Xotic is more about finding the quickest way to score the most points as possible in its confined, colorful and eXotic levels. There are small, bulbous, red sacks called “scabs” that are spread throughout the area, usually in some sort of grouped succession that allows shooting one in the group to cause a chain reaction explosion clearing the rest. If you keep this up you’ll chain combo them, leading to multipliers and ultimately, a higher score. Figure out the most efficient and quickest way to chain them and you’ve discovered the heart of Xotic.
There’s more to shoot than just the scabs. Crystals, flowers and enemies are scattered throughout the arena but I’m pretty sure they’re only there to distract and delay you from keeping your chain going and just end up extending your time. Most levels require the enemies to be cleared before it’s considered “completed” so you’ll have to face them down at some point. The desire to replay levels over and over are what will keep some coming back to Xotic, trying to get atop the leaderboards and brag to their friends.
In between levels you have the chance to upgrade skills in two different trees: your multi weapon and yourself. This is a modern trope smack dab in the middle of a game that has more in common with Quake and R-Type than Modern Warfare. Xotic controls fast and loose. While aiming and shooting feel as you would expect when compared to twitch shooters of times gone by, the jumping is floaty and unpredictable and the weapon feels like it’s severely lacking in “heft”. While this game is by no means a platformer, there are plenty of things to be seen and acquired at higher points in the level that I consistently had a hard time getting to.
There’s something about Xotic that feels like it was just on the verge of getting a lot of things right and creating a new kind of approach to the first person shooter genre. I think if they gave the design a couple more passes, cleaned up the controls and made things less confusing they’d be in great shape. Xotic is a truly unique game that required a bit more explanation in-game than what it provided. A lot of what I learned about the game came from browsing message boards and a little from playing through it. I think if they figure out a good way to balance the good and the bad, then we’ll have something really exciting to look forward to. As it stands now, Xotic has plenty to offer gamers, they just have to be willing to spend some time discovering it.