Pixelated enemies come running at you from the side-rooms of an ornate, sprawling building. Techno music fills your headphones as each opponent falls beneath an onslaught of gunfire. You throw away one weapon and immediately grab another. And connecting everything is a bizarre, dreamlike narrative. This isn't Hotline Miami 3, but it's so close that it might as well be.
OTXO is a new and unmissable top-down shooter. Waking on a beach with little more than the rapidly-fading memory of a lost romance in your head, it's just a few minutes before you're blasting your way through 'The Mansion' in pursuit of your love. It could scarcely be a more fitting homage to Hotline Miami. Dizzyingly fast, entirely deadly, and with a soundtrack that absolutely slaps, this is genuinely the closest thing to a Hotline spin-off I've ever seen, and clean enough that if you told me it was a full-fledged threequel, I'd believe you.
Where OTXO pushes past Hotline Miami is in the intelligence of your opponents. They'll hear you coming and duck around a doorframe so you can't hit them immediately, or circle around to get a better shot. They're also extremely fast, so OTXO lends you a couple of tools to help out – a dodge roll and a brief, Max Payne-esque ability to slow time and line up a shot. Add in a very gentle roguelite element and there's more than enough here to justify playing it over simply replaying Hotline Miami again.
The result is going down a storm, with hundreds of 'Very Positive' reviews on Steam since launch on April 20. While a very small minority of players don't see enough changes between runs to differentiate OTXO from the games that inspired it, many, many others are celebrating the comparison. It's been more than eight years since Hotline Miami 2, and it seems that this is one of the rare times an alternative take on the formula has really landed with fans.
For my own sins, I genuinely can't put it down. Something about the speed and instant-replayability of the formula has really got its hooks into me. The roguelite elements are extremely light, and lord knows I absolutely suck at getting past the more competent enemies that dwell further into the Mansion, but something about OXTO keeps me coming back, even if it's just for a run or two at a time. If you're a Hotline Miami fan, you should definitely check it out.
Keep an eye on the little guy with our list of upcoming indie games.