Boti: Byteland Overclocked Review – Bot, Why?

Boti: Byteland Overclocked’s Steam page is a bit confusing. It is a game about robots inside a computer, but the game does not seem to reflect that very much. The aesthetics are that of a generic, kid-friendly platformer, very bright with greenery, blue skies, crates, and little fellas scattered around everywhere. But do children know about the inside of a PC? RAM, kernels, GPUs, overclocking; these are not things that they would be particularly fascinated by, are they?

Furthermore, there is no local co-op. You would think that a game like that would be there for a family to play together, but first, they’d need at least two PCs, even though there is a split-screen function. At least, I could not get it to work using multiple controllers, or keyboard and controller. Maybe this will be fixed down the line, but how do I know?

Boti standing next to a black cat in a building
I may not be able to play in co-op, but I can at least pet a cat

The version of Boti I received for review was riddled with all the worst types of bugs: getting stuck in geometry, cutscenes not playing, enemies missing from a scene, enemies not reacting to the player, missing triggers, missing kill planes allowing me to walk under the level, lack of tutorials, lack of voice lines, character models remaining in the world after cutscenes, invisible walls preventing progress and forcing me to restart the game, the HUD disappearing, the in-game cursor remaining on screen after quitting the pause menu (which unpauses after a few seconds by the way) and more!

Honestly, even if all these issues were fixed in the last pre-release update, I would not know. The most egregious examples occurred during later levels, and the game seemingly deleted my progress when I accidentally pressed “Play” instead of “Continue” after finally allowing me to switch my language with a new update. There was no warning about it whatsoever, one miss click and it was all gone.

Standing on the bottom of the world, beneath the level
Even the void refuses to accept me

Had I enjoyed Boti’s basics I might have played through this five-hour-long adventure again. The problem is, I did not. I did not enjoy the movement, the visuals, the music, the combat, the level design, the puzzles, or the humor. Each aspect would rank towards the bottom of the 3D platformers I have played up until now. They create an incongruous experience that is dull, and occasionally frustrating to go through even without the technical issues.

The movement, in the beginning, allows the titular character to jump, double jump, glide, dash, attack, ground pound and pull themselves up for ledges. These are barely animated, it is sort of difficult to wrap your head around how the messily designed Boti lifts in the air. The attacks are a bit better; they attack using the ear-pieces with a three-hit combo, the final attack being a full head spin.

Boti pulling a platform
Sometimes Boti has to pull platforms by themselves, which adds to the list of things that slow the game down

Jumping feels awful because Boti uses the hold functionality for gliding. This means holding down the jump button does nothing to the length of the jump itself, making basic platforming extremely imprecise and unintuitive. Every piece of mid-air traversal requires course-correcting or just a bit of extra height, meaning that the double jump and glide are a necessity for each and every single leap. This slows down the pace of even the simplest of platforming sections to a crawl.

Combat involves the most boring, basic version of 3D platformer attacks imaginable. You hit the enemy three times with your basic combo and they are gone! Woohoo! This was trivialized even more because the various viruses would very often just not react to me, and would get smacked to death while standing still. Even then, there appears to exist a period of enemy invincibility that activates randomly or some missing hitboxes, because direct hits tend to not register.

Boti attacking a dummy, while Zero says "let's take it down a notch"
I am showing my superiority to an inanimate object by pressing the attack button three times

The level design alternates between these two aspects for up to 25 minutes per stage. Sometimes they open up, allowing for collectible searching. There are quite a few of these, including botcoins (which are bitcoins), hidden currency stashes, and recordings of the computer’s leader: Kernel. These are sometimes hidden in genuinely fun ways, and the less observant players are provided with extra tool for finding them with both the scanner and audio cues by Boti’s two infobots: the overwhelmingly positive One and the overwhelmingly negative Zero.

These two characters are just the worst. They only have so many quips for each collectible and combat, about two or three, and they begin repeating themselves many times during each level. During combat-heavy sections, I counted up to five times they repeated the same thing. They can also be sort of mean-spirited for no reason. After dying, the typically positive One may ask if you did not see what killed you, to which my response is that I did, but I died because the game did not register my hits.

Dancing robots inside a building
These little fellas are scattered everywhere around each level. Sometimes they do a wiggle, say something basic or reference pop-culture. It gets tiring very fast.

Most of the time, the range for their audio cues is very wide, ruining the exploration segments, and some are less enjoyable. Many hiding techniques Boti uses repeat themselves, while others are laid out in the open. This technically makes sense, as some of the currency is required to progress the level through gates, but there is plenty of it to go around in the level itself, either by simply existing on the path forward, or inside destructible objects scattered around every platform.

The scoring system at the end of each level rewards having as much currency as possible, which incentivizes mindlessly destroying every single box, crate, and plant, extending the already needlessly long levels. The currency is useful, as in the hub one can upgrade Boti’s health and collection range, as well as build new facilities to play around in. Too bad this also did not work in the version I played.

Two big "E" button prompts stuck on the screen.
E. E.

There is one more collectible in each stage, one on each: the music note. This is earned by completing slide sections perfectly and collecting every note laid out on its tracks. This is the worst part of each level, as Boti is not stuck to a given lane as he slides, he simply moves forward. There are twists and turns obfuscating the path forward, and sometimes jumping is required to clear obstacles.

Boti would move to the right if the path was winding left, and I had to clumsily try to keep him on the same path without even seeing where the notes were up ahead. One track was also not able to be completed if I jumped over an obstacle, meaning I had to get hit and pass through it to get the trophy. There are similarly weird decisions throughout Boti.

Boti on the note slide
I hate these slides so much, you have no idea, with the HUD gone I don’t even know how many hits I can take.

For example: later on, Boti gains the ability to attach to ziplines, where they can lean left and right to collect things. This, for some reason, is not done by using the movement keys, it is done using the camera controls, which are extremely sensitive. The same magnet ability is used to attach Boti to pieces of metal and have them launch off of them by using the push button, which is the only situation in which it is required. There was no tutorial for this mechanic and I forgot I can push by that point, so I was struggling there for a good second.

There is nothing even pushing you on with this game, the aesthetics are basic but overblown (this reminds me of how I had to quit the game during an event with the skybox turning red and meteors falling, and after loading back in it was all gone and peaceful once again) and the music is dull and has very, very short loops. If characters did not speak (and sometimes they did not, as certain cutscenes were missing audio) to mention computer parts, I would not know it was taking place inside of one. Basic platformer-level themes such as sewers for the GPU, a city, and a beach do not scream “computer” at me. And they are all so bright and overtly colorful, lacking visual cohesion.

Boti riding a little dinghy on a green waterslide
What, do you not know there’s a poisonous sewer ooze slide inside your PC?

The bosses, which should be the culmination of each world, were no better. Sometimes they were lacking damage indicators, one had their entire body be a hitbox and move toward the player without warning, sometimes the floor would be dangerous but the effect indicating this would just glitch through the panels. The final section, on the other hand, was just dull, providing way too much leeway to be even remotely tense.

The game I played was unfinished, but even when, or if it will be, I do not think I would find any enjoyment in it. I simply did not find anything in Boti: Byteland Overclocked to attach to. It was a mess on a technical level, but also on pretty much every other level. It has a good spirit and the voice actors give it their all, but the game I played is just something I just hope to forget as soon as possible.

Mateusz played Boti: Byteland Overclocked on PC with a review code.

Notify of

Inline Feedbacks
View all comments