Monday 4 July 2022

B.I.O.T.A Review (Steam)

wears four colours on its sleeve. And cuffs. It has the CRT filter and a billion palettes to earn, each one more eye-searing than the last. A lovingly crafted little blaster that gets away with more than it should be able to, B.I.O.T.A. gets under your skin, but maybe not for long enough to lay eggs.

I could tell you the story the game has but I’ve already forgotten it. Something to do with planets, meteorites, alien infestations, and a crack team of teensy soldiers who have to clear up. It is gleefully silly, bombastically throwaway. You can pick a character from the team and dive into a xenomorphic hell, with a half-and-half platforming and shooting adventure. While each soldier plays differently, there is little difference, but they bound along with an energy that is sort of infectious.

You can grip onto walls, leap about, use a unique special ability, avoid environmental dangers and blast an expansive and imaginative array of enemies. The realisation of the world is the selling point here. From the little players to grotesque larvae, betooth’d blobs with extruding eyes, and a bunch of things that jump and ooze. It’s all on the slime-ooze side of the spectrum. Similarly, the levels are sci-fi, bio-horror staples such as mines and reactors. There are layers of detail, moving parts, and atmosphere crammed into very few pixels. It is quite a dense thing to look at and thrilling because of it.

As this has a strong metroidvania leaning, there is a broader navigation task at hand. The shooting gives the effect of it being more run-and-gun than it actually is. While this keeps the pace up, you will be travelling around the various locales, and it is important to keep track. I wasn’t really paying attention to this at first and had to re-orientate myself a lot. The world, however, keeps you engaged and interested, despite the ability to get lost easily and that it is broadly unforgiving. While you can save your progress, B.I.O.T.A. requires a bit of focus. The shards of Risk of Rain or Caveblazers that I felt at first, were wiped away fairly fast. Yet what remains has less speed, it still has an urging pace to it.

The music throbs along in a creepy, driving, tense way, and the dialogue between characters and the little nuances of the “lived-in” world do a lot with very little. It is great to get the back and forth between characters in the rare moments you meet others. I believe this side of it to be so effective, I wish there was much more. Indeed, the style is what keeps the score at four out of five here, but this would be a really solid four if more of B.I.O.T.A.’s parts were developed a bit more.

The controls don’t feel totally right, a little spicy or frenetic. I never felt quite grounded or weighty. In fact, this could’ve been a way to make the characters feel more distinct. Also, the abilities and powerups don’t feel exciting enough. They almost don’t live up to the mad, exciting world that is on offer. B.I.O.T.A. feels, despite these irks and complaints, like a bit of a gem. It has enough depth to have staying power, and when you get on a roll, it has a thrilling little world to be in for a while. I urge you, however, to play this windowed. And don’t stare too long at the CGA palettes on offer as they will sour your eyesight. Sour, I tell you.

No comments:

Post a Comment