Daily Independent: Weird Arcade Shooter Xotic is All About High Scores

I’m not quite sure what to make of Xotic. It’s kind of strange and definitely different from the standard crop of first-person shooters and arcade shooters out there. At the same time, it can be annoying and it often feels like a throwback to an era when game design was a little less solid, a little more choppy, and a little cheaper in its treatment of players.

But that might be what makes it appealing: it’s a game filled with opportunities to earn points, enemies often preternaturally disposed to spotting and hitting you, and lots of power-ups and upgrades to earn along the way to make yourself into a more powerful killing- and scoring-machine. And in the end, it’s a $10 download that reminds of a time when shooters might have been a bit simpler.

In Xotic, you take on the role of some kind of weird bug man with a weird bug gun. You’ve been genetically engineered to fight a space being called The Orb, which corrupts and drains planets of their life. Each bright, colorful level has you running around, killing all the Orb-spawned enemies and blowing up red Orb pimples that have spread across the ground. These “scabs” are usually populous and arranged in chains, so that when you fire at one, you’ll take out a whole bunch for lots of points.

You get points for everything — for clearing out scabs, for fighting enemies, for blasting Orb Brains, and for doing all these things in a creative manner. The more things you can shoot and the more quickly you can do so, the more points you’ll pull down. And that’s really what it’s all about: challenging yourself. Xotic doesn’t really push difficulty on you so much as challenge you to do a good job in each of its levels and dominate the online leaderboards. There are a variety of enemies that will get in your way, though.

But at the end of the day, the real drive for Xotic is to add your name to that list of high-scoring players you’ve never met, just like in the old days of your corner arcade. That Xotic is pretty as well as a bit weird bolsters this effect, and it’s priced well for a good diversionary game experience. It might not feel as tight or responsive as many modern AAA shooters, but it does feel like it has a specific niche of players who will really enjoy it.

If you can spare $10 and you’re a fan of high-scoring competition, Xotic is a solid choice. It’s not a game for everyone and Call of Duty fanatics will probably dislike it, but there’s a segment of gamers who appreciate exactly the kind of thing that developer WXP Games is trying to accomplish, and they’ll eat this one up.

Snag Xotic on Steam.

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