Xotic was developed by WXP Games and published by Valcon Games. It was released November 16, 2011 for 800MSP. A copy was provided for review purposes.
When reading Xotic’s description on Xbox Live it sounds very pretentious, it touts never-before-seen game mechanics and says that “there’s never been a game like this”. Once you play the game you realize this isn’t just boasting for the sake of advertising; it’s in reality a very original game with a highly unique experience. Unfortunately this game is a port from its original PC version, which causes most of its pitfalls and makes an otherwise fantastic game suffer.
Here’s what we liked:
Creative gameplay concept - Xotic brings a modern game genre back in time. Although it is a first-person shooter, the focus is in replay to rack up your score. The setting is that of an alien world that is being taken over by an almighty being, plagued with evil creatures and life-sucking scab plants. Shooting either of these gives you points, but shooting the latter starts a chain reaction which increases your multiplier. There are also aerial pick-ups, which give you bonus points if you get all of them in one jump. Enemies are included to slow down your speed and add a challenge, but the best levels are the hidden time challenges that take away combat to focus solely on score. The gameplay is a nice take on the first-person shooter, and the short levels gives makes it all the more addicting to get a better score.
Aesthetic - The game doesn’t have much of a story, but it more than makes up for that in atmosphere. The alien planet is brought to life with bright colors, varying environments, and interesting life forms. Levels span over four very distinct areas, each more stunning than the last. Everything comes together to make a beautifully alien setting. The most creative part? Weaponized flies.
Hard hologram - Touted as the amazing new game mechanic, it doesn’t quite reach those expectations. When you press the left thumbstick, a transparent shield appears in front of you. If you jump, pressing the thumbstick will get you a platform to reach higher ground. You’ll mostly use it for the latter. Although it is easily forgotten during a firefight, it is still a helpful mechanic if you remember to use it.
Here’s what we didn’t like:
Lag and controls - Xotic’s biggest fault is where it proves it’s a port. It has decent controls which does give it a nice arcade feel, but they’re also very inconsistent. Running and jumping seems to change speed every few seconds, and everything slows down if there’s too much action on the screen. Jumping always moves slower than running, which helps for precise landings but hinders fast escapes or vertical exploration. Hopefully a title update will be released to make the game more playable.
Not enough information - While the game has a fairly good tutorial, there’s still a feeling of unsureness in the first few levels. The game doesn’t tell you some of the basic controls, such as switching weapon, but they can be found on the menu or by trial and error. It would also be nice if the game included a map, as there are times where you just can’t find an enemy and have to comb the entire level over.
Xotic creates an amazing world filled with arcadey goodness, but is soured by bad controls and lag. Playing for points is the game’s strongest feature, but the reliance on enemies isn’t a perfect gameplay match. However, the experience is very engaging once you learn its ins and outs. If you want to ease into XBLA games after weeks of Call of Duty and Battlefield, this would be a great pick.
Score: Try it!