One of the most overpopulated genres in the indie gaming scene is the platformer genre, but a rarer and better known variety is 3D platformers. This means that every new 3D platformer release inherently feels a little more unique, and Boti: Byteland Overclocked is no exception, but being a 3D platformer is perhaps the most special thing about it.
At first glance the game looks pretty simple, and I’m not going to lie and say that it promises anything more than the basics of a good 3D platformer. However, it has everything you need and has a few new ideas, which is all you really want from a platformer in my book. The potential is off the charts with the objectively “cool” idea of exploring the insides of a computer, but we’re grading for execution here.
- Developer: Purple Ray Studio
- Publisher: Untold Tales
- Release Date: September 15, 2023
The visuals of Boti: Byteland are beautiful, harmless, and undeniably good. From the sound of it, you’d think my ass would be full of splinters if I sat on a fence like that, but in my defense the game gives me no reason to jump off that cheesy metaphorical fence.
They’re not chasing something special. That’s what half of the games on the Unreal Engine look like. You know, the ones that combine models and textures under light shading and over-include bloom. You can’t customize the graphics outside of presets, which is frustrating.
I’d really like to turn off the bloom, but that’s mainly because I don’t play all video games with the brightness at 100 and Vaseline smeared on the monitor. Otherwise, it’s fine; I would have liked a little more commitment to the bold art style, as it looks identical to the Astro game room on the PS5, which is a tech demo.
Overall, it’s a completely inoffensive art style that requires no risk and never looks nasty or gross, but with the caveat that it’s pretty uninteresting. Imagine what this game would be like if they had focused entirely on the aesthetics of the computer-generated interiors, rather than giving us the usual grass fields and buildings that don’t make me feel much. My brain was overheating as I opened 15 different tabs with ideas for levels or characters, but the game didn’t seem to have enough RAM to keep up.
Speaking of making things seem safe and harmless at the expense of keeping things from getting interesting, Boti’s gameplay loop is pretty simple, straightforward, and almost always engaging, but it’s never that exciting. You break objects, perform simple platforming, fight enemies, and solve simplistic puzzles in large open levels to collect data and then use it to unlock the rest of the level.
This cycle is fun and already works in games like Banjo-Kazooie or A Hat in Time, usually because they distribute various collectibles throughout their levels that unlock a variety of things. Booty does this, but mostly for extra, unnecessary things like extra leftover data for fun hub purchases, cosmetics for your character or house, less necessary upgrades and some knowledge.
You can only do a few movements by default: jumping, jerking, sliding, and attacking. I’d stick my neck out and say that jerking is the only sport that’s even remotely satisfying, but it’s limited to a long delay at the end and doesn’t maintain any momentum in your normal movement. Later you get access to magnetism, which is as interesting as fiddling with real magnets, especially using them as a hook (as in real life), but limited in that it can only be used to explore certain areas.
The exploration isn’t really stimulating as you only get mildly amusing cosmetics or more data, and the movement is perfectly functional and good, but not incredibly interesting. It’s all good, acceptable and harmless, and if you see a pattern here, so do I! Another exceptional gameplay feature is the scan feature, which turns everything into solid colors and makes it easier to recognize enemies and objects.
It’s a great special abilities feature that also makes it easier to travel the world and understand things. It’s one of the only experimental and interesting features in this game that doesn’t just allow you to secure yourself and leave it at that. As someone with terrible eyesight, I genuinely appreciate something like this. Overall, this gameplay is improved, but it feels like someone is playing all the notes of a song correctly, but usually playing them tentatively and too quietly. This could have been so much more if there was a bit more passion.
Progression in Byteland Bothy is accomplished in a rather unique way. It’s a very linear game, and while the difficulty of the levels increases slightly each time, it relies heavily on fun level-based tricks for each stage rather than allowing each level to be a pure platformer. I wanted it to be a bit harder (especially since you can die to a boss and it doesn’t reset his health, so you can easily die to him and still win, what the hell, man), but for what it’s worth, I had a lot of fun with each level.
There are a few boss fights, but while the rest of the game has decent button fights, these boss fights are completely a gimmick. You have a Trojan Horse (which is exactly as corny as you think it is), and you have to knock his legs out using magnetic cannons. I appreciate the variations, but overall this game focuses more on gimmicks than testing the player on advanced techniques (since there aren’t any), and I want more.
Bothy’s soundtrack is completely as expected: almost entirely synthesized tunes that match the levels. It wasn’t anything special, but it was very good nonetheless. Each level has a different piece of music, and while none of it stood out, it was all good; I’d love to hear it on its own. It’s easiest to compare this soundscape to Portal 2’s soundscape, which sounds like high praise, but if you can honestly tell me you can remember more than three songs from the entire Portal series, you’re crazy.
As for the overall sound design, the companions (creatively named One and Zero) add a twist to the game. However, more often than not they get on my nerves and feel the need to comment wryly on every death; they more often than not got on my nerves rather than adding a good joke or fun charm, especially with repetitive voice-overs for seemingly no reason. However, everything else is fine; nothing in particular stood out, and that’s a theme throughout the game.
The plot of Boti: Byteland is kind of like a typical cartoon plot, kind of like how Banjo-Kazooie or Spyro would do it. The story has a clear goal, basically consisting of finding a new quirky character to tell you a new place to go, add a few unexpected twists with evil characters, and, bam, you have a good, fun plot.
I like the game’s scenario, and the simplistic plot isn’t bad; it’s just a weirdly nostalgic feeling, because I haven’t seen a game written with such an emphasis on characters (though that’s probably just because I don’t actively seek out games like this, but I digress). When the idea for this game was to bring back PS1/N64 Rareware and Insomniac had that in mind, and honestly, I’m here for it!
Despite everything I’ve said, Boti’s Byteland seems like a fun game for speedrunning. This is primarily due to the fact that you can reset your spurt by doing a short jump, which means you can move fast if you’re precise and keep up the rhythm (which I never did more than three times in a row, but it’s a certifiable skill. problem); the fact that each level trick is fun and unobtrusive certainly helps, and it’s not the only reason you’ll want to replay the game.
That, in addition to all the collectibles you might have missed in the rather extensive and confusing levels, the huge variety of unlockable items in the center of the game, as well as the various cosmetic items and items to strive for, make this quite fun to replay.
Overall, I feel like Byteland Bothy holds a lot of promise, especially because it’s Purple Ray Studio’s first big game. It’s hard to get everything right on the first try, and for what it’s worth, this game gets almost all the basic things right, but it’s like writing an essay in a perfect MLA format that gets everything right but shows no passion or desire to go above. and beyond meeting those standards.
It’s a stable, properly made and well thought out game, but it’s not overloaded with personality, and every new idea it offers can be half realized at best. I don’t see the typical factory among the grassy plains when I creatively interpret CPU as a video game level, and I think the developers wanted to do more but didn’t.
It’s a fun game, and I’d recommend it if all you want is a fun platformer that won’t be too challenging for you but still reminds you of the old days, but I can’t contain my yearning for something more. I want to explore the backstory of Windows XP, browse the files on my desktop, and enjoy the concept. Maybe I’m just spoiled by games like Inscryption or Deltarune that do much more exciting things with the idea of exploring a computer, but this doesn’t satisfy me.
- The game is pretty intense, with a lot of content
- The computer theme, at least, is charming and seems like a cool concept
- It’s just a well-made, fun 3D platformer collectible game
- The companion characters are sometimes annoying, and there’s no way to turn them off without turning off all the voices
- The game lacks ambition, often half realizing its great ideas or not being satisfying enough
- There were a few bugs, but they never particularly disrupted the game