Xotic is downright properly named, the game is quite, well – exotic. What I mean by this statement is, when I was asked what sort of game it is, I wasn't quite sure how to answer. My answer was a mesh up of something along the lines of a FPS, points gaining, competitive, and chain reaction sort of game. While it plays like a first-person shooter, it is truly like no other game I’ve ever played
The game is an arcade-style first person shooter. While you play, you rank up points, keep chains going, and compete on leaderboards. During the course of gameplay you shoot at scab plants which start a chain reaction with the other scab plants in proximity. This is what boosts your point multiplier – your goal is to keep this multiplier going to get the highest amounts of points. After the chain reaction ends you have a few seconds to find another scab plant to shoot before the bonus drops.
While you are scoring points, there are hampers to disrupt your progress. These are the monsters or creatures that will attack you (I loathe those spiders), but luckily, all of these monsters can be shot at and killed. The game tells you where the nearest monster is with a circle on your crosshair. There are also “Champions” which are way tougher enemies than the standard ones. They have fairly simple AI but I feel like they exist to get in the way of your progress, rather than to kill you. For extra points, you can shoot at Brain Orbs, which there are a set amount of them on each map.
As far as story goes, you are armed with a creature called a Mactoterra. This is your evolving weapon that looks similar to a sci-fi fly. Your enemy is a presence known as “The Orb” and your enemies are the minions of the Orb. As you destroy the scab plants you are terraforming the planet. This is quite the sight to see as plants sprout from these scabs as you shoot them, which can completely terraform the current level you're in.
The area of the game I enjoyed the most is the movement. In Xotic, the sky is not the limit. Often items and power-ups will be out of jump reach, but with a press of a button, you can create a temporary platform to stand on, though you can only have one at a time. You can jump straight up, place it, jump from that platform, place one under you, and keep going until you get to the desired height. Getting good and fast with this technique is the best way to optimize your time and points in Xotic. I was a little slow to pick up the usefulness of this ability but then became obsessed with it.
A fun an unexpected feature to this game is an upgrading system to weapons and skills. While you only have “one” weapon, it can evolve into eight unique firing options. These weapons have various uses for different situations and enemies to dispatch. The weapons vary from a shotgun type blast to an effect similar to a barrage of missiles. Besides upgrading your Mactoterra, you can also upgrade four aspects of yourself. These upgrades increase your armor, health, ammo efficiency, and absorption ability. After each level you are awarded points you can put into these upgrades depending on how well you did.
I definitely have mixed feelings towards Xotic. To me, the core of the game are the competitive aspects with the leaderboards. To get a better score you would need to play a level multiple times to learn the quickest paths and memorize where to make shots. The quicker you finish and the higher you get your multiplier the better. If you don’t have the sort of personality that is obsessive over getting perfect scores, then this game may come off as a niche FPS. For the player who is looking for an arcade style shooter, without much of a story to speak of, then I would recommend this game to you. If you are more into a more traditional FPS style game where AI or other players are the challenge – and not the score, then Xotic may not be for you. If you are on the fence, the game won't hurt your wallet, since it's available for $10 on Steam and Xbox 360.
[Reviewed on PC]