Boti: Byteland Overclocked review

Boti: Byteland Overclocked review

A meta experience about a glitch in the system

Ever since seeing and playing Super Mario 64 at a Target kiosk when I was a child I became instantly enamored with 3D Platformers going forward. Since such games need tight controls to be any good there were always going to be ones that stood above the rest. When I got the chance to play Boti Byteland: Overclocked, Purple Ray Studio’s debut title, I was eager to see if that core concept was realized. It wasn’t.

The player takes control of Boti, a cute robot in a cyberverse who, along with their two flying robotic companions, are tricked into overclocking the system. Their universe and all its various worlds break down with glitches in the forms of enemies, environmental obstacles, and well…glitches? Boti Byteland: Overclocked is easily the most broken and glitchiest platformer I’ve ever had the misfortune of coming across. I’m not even sure it’s possible to finish the game to 100% in its current state, so I resigned myself to just getting to the finish line rather than trying any longer.

There are seven levels and a main hub world for us to explore. Each of the levels has a set amount of collectibles to find and currency to earn rankings upon completion. It’s very basic; the only thing setting the levels apart being the visual aesthetics. Until the last two levels there are only two enemy types to come across, the lightweight grunt and a large exploding type that continually spawns ads until vanquished. Only the small enemies come in different elemental forms for us to defeat, while the bigger ones are always the same. Half the time their AI doesn’t register, making them stand still while the player wails on them. When they do attack there is no rhyme or reason for when either Boti’s attack makes contact or the enemy’s does. I would experience several instances where there were mundane objects that Boti would come across, like a trash can, which due to broken code caused damage if attacked. There are also times where full on models were not present, despite being able to run into them.

To break up the monotonous formula of the level design, a slide minigame is added to each. Such a concept isn’t new to the genre, but what is neat is that it adds a rhythm based mechanic. Similar to how Guitar Hero creates a visual representation of a fretboard with notes dropping down to be pressed as they pass the line, the slides in Boti have notes we need to slide through. One gameplay difference here is that there are obstacles to slide past or jump over. Another, and it’s a big one, is the execution. There are obstacles like revolving blades or rolling barrels placed in front of notes, but each attempt will have them in random positions so plenty of times a perfect run is impossible due to an unavoidable hit. We need to do a perfect run to unlock collectibles. Fortunately, if we mess up there’s an Unstuck feature in the menus to reset at a checkpoint, but half the time Boti ends up above an abyss to fall to their death. I managed to get 100% on all of them except for the last, since the counter reset at various intervals for no apparent reason.

The developers also add segments that let Boti race on a motorized raft, but they are always a pain due to having no camera control. Well wait, that’s a lie. The camera does move, just confusingly with the left analogue stick, which is how we turn the vehicle. I had to move as slow as possible because the camera would wonk out as I went through the various turns. I quickly changed over to keyboard and mouse in one of these segments to see if it was a controller issue, but the mouse didn’t do anything; the WASD keys handled both the camera and the turning of the vehicles. These incredibly unfun scenarios are compounded by the fact that when Boti enters a vehicle their life bar changes to that of the vehicle’s, but after getting out the vehicle the health never resets to normal; in fact the game doesn’t register us picking up health anymore until we die and reset at a checkpoint.

Any time the game became difficult it was due to glitches and bad design, so I was glad to see the ability to upgrade abilities and my health in the hub world. But once the game bugged and stopped recognizing the ability to pick up hearts in a level it didn’t really matter anyway.

I could go on for a long time more about the glitches in this game – such as how I discovered a way to repeatedly crash the game on a slide by selecting the option to travel to the hub world, or how when I wanted to change cosmetics in the hub world, Boti ended up disconnecting from the camera and stood straight up against a wall like they were cursed by the Blair Witch forcing a hard reset – but I don’t want to write a novel. I’ll just say, the only enjoyment I had with Boti Byteland: Overclocked is the irony I felt at experiencing so many glitches in a game about fixing glitches.

This review is based on a Steam code sent to SideQuesting by the publisher.