If I was to pinpoint Hotline Miami‘s biggest fault, it’s that it eventually has to end. Even when you take into account the under-rated second game, it’s an experience that can’t go on forever.

But what if I told you that it didn’t have to end? What if someone turned it into a roguelike that you could essentially play forever, with each playthrough being different to the last? Well, that’s what the developers behind OTXO planned, and they almost pulled it off too. Albeit with some slight caveats.

Many thanks to the publisher for the review code.

OTXO starts with you sitting on a train with your girlfriend. After seeing someone drop a mask, you’re compelled to put it on; presumably your nameless character has never seen The Mask before, and is thusly unaware of the dangers that could occur.

As such, something does end up happening, although it’s not clear what. All you know is that you’ve awoken on a beach in front of a mansion, with no memory as to how you got there. The caretaker greets you and helpfully informs you that you’re now trapped here, and not even death can help you escape. To make matters worse, your beloved is trapped at the heart of the mansion – which means you have to go in there and save her, destroying the mansion’s core in the process. 

You are not the mansion’s first victim, and you will likely not be its last either. You are an Otxo, and you’ll have to play by the mysterious mansion’s rules – whether you like them or not.


OTXO has an intriguing setup, which is complemented by its monochromatic style and unusual cast of characters that make up the game’s NPCs. There’s the aforementioned caretaker, of course, as well as a barman who can serve you game-changing liquors before starting your journey, a lady who can help import new drinks to the bar, and a gun-running nun (because why the hell not?). It feels a bit like a cross between Hotline Miami and The Prisoner, albeit told through the lens of a film noir. It’s weird, it’s dark, but most importantly – it’s intriguing.

Veterans of Hotline Miami should feel right at home with the gameplay from the offset. Both the overhead perspective and quadrilateral room designs should be familiar, but so should the fast paced-reflex based shooting too. Guns have limited ammunition, but as enemies drop their weaponry on death you’ll never find yourself running out of ammo. There’s not really much in the way of melee items to choose from, but you do have your trusty boot that can smash an enemy’s head in with surprising ease. It’s not ideal, as bringing a shoe to a gunfight will probably end up resulting in you losing precious health, but it’s certainly an option. A better use is to kick down the game’s many doors to access the next room. Enemies can’t open doors, so being careful with how you proceed is a good way to prevent being surrounded by gunfire.

What sets this apart from Hotline Miami, aside from the visual design, is that your character actually has a health-pool that can allow them to take a surprising number of bullets, but dying will result in having to start the whole run over. Standard rogue-like procedure, although it’s not quite as random as you may imagine. Each floor is assembled using an assortment of pre-made rooms; which not only ensures that each run is completely unique, but also that there’s no impossible ones either. Super Meat Boy Forever worked on a similar principle, and it’s certainly the best way to make a game like this into a roguelike.


Unfortunately, this random generation also means that the stages end up being quite unmemorable as a result. Every floor is essentially a collection of big rooms, small rooms, or corridors, and are littered with the same enemy types throughout. It’s addictive fun, for sure, as the controls are tight and the gameplay is undeniably thrilling; however, without any real set-pieces, everything all just blends together. The boss fights are memorable for sure, especially as there are some surprisingly strange abominations, and the liquors can help spice things up, but the levels are all much of the same.

Speaking of liquors, these drinks are far more useful than you may expect. The first one is free (something I think all bars should do!), but you’ll need to use the money earned from previous attempts to purchase ones after that. There are some lacklustre liquors for sure, such as having dead enemies drop more coins; but then others can offer something more exciting, like exploding enemies or a canine companion. They go a long way into adding some extra flavour to the game, and certainly incentivise jumping back in for one more shot.

Unfortunately though, there’s also a bug that threatens to spoil this entire system. The barman has a pretty generous stock available, which randomly changes each time; but to get more added into the mix, you’ll have to donate money to the other lady in the bar to import some extra ones. The problem is that any progress you make is wiped upon exiting the game (even if you save). It forces you to save up and give her everything at once, since the intended method just doesn’t work properly. It’s rather annoying, and it resulted in me just ignoring her instead, so I hope they end up fixing it. That being said though, this was the only bug that I encountered, and the game seems to run at a constant 60FPS, even with a lot of action going on. Which, I suppose, is the more important thing.

OTXO is a great attempt at turning Hotline Miami into a roguelike. It may have some unmemorable stages, but tight controls, satisfying gunplay, and a banging soundtrack make this an essential purchase for any fans of the old ultraviolence.