The Eye Of The B.I.O.T.A. – A Stylish Retro Metroidvania

A difficult title for SEO, but a great one for puns, B.I.O.T.A. is an action platformer from solo dev small bros, with plenty of characters, guns, vehicles and colours!

Game Boy fans might have a field day with B.I.O.T.A, but not being a fan of handhelds (excluding the Switch), it wouldn’t typically mean anything to me. However, after reading about it, I downloaded the demo on Steam and really enjoyed it. While writing up my thoughts, I received a review code for the game. 

Ask the universe, and who knows what’ll happen? Still, asking for a smaller penis hasn’t born fruit.

B.I.O.T.A. is a Metroidvania set in a mining colony infected by a plague. A crack team of mercs(?) are sent there by V-Corp to investigate and, assumedly, save the day by blasting their way through and commandeering a vast number of vehicles.

There are four playable characters at the start, each with a brief background and skill. It’s the usual setup of sniper, all-rounder and what-not, but my favourite from out of the stable was Zeed – a close combat specialist. They sport a shotgun that shoots three ways, and in truth, when has a shotgun been rubbish in a game?

B.I.O.T.A. Review - ED-20 What
ED-20 what? Source: Screen capture

You can shoot, jump, and perform a special move with each character. B.I.O.T.A. has auto savepoints and manual ones. Pending there are no enemies on screen, saving on the fly is possible. Note that health is very scarce, and enemies respawn each time you enter/exit a scene, so be prepared for many deaths.

It took me about an hour of aimless wandering to realise that you can access a map on command. This is essential due to backtracking for keycards and occasionally keys or fuel to unlock the mini-games (vehicle sections). In the same menu for the map, you can return to the surface to swap out your character, though ideally, you’ll need to locate elevators for your return as they serve as a checkpoint.

Overall, each character acts the same, though they have advantages such as Kirill’s gun and C4 helps for boss fights. Unit-34 is the only droid and thus isn’t affected by the radiation part of the game, and Flynt the sniper is great for platforming – not because of their jumping skills, but because they can eliminate any enemies from afar, reducing the risk of a knockback.

Visually, B.I.O.T.A. is super stylish. If you can cast your memory back to the beginning of this review, I’m not a Game Boy fan, but I loved the visuals here. It actually reminded me more of Green Beret’s presentation on the Spectrum (a good thing). There are moments where it’s hard to decipher what’s on-screen (like The Eternal Castle Remastered), but to counter that, you switch palettes. 

There are 54 4-colour palettes in the game, which sounds a little bit excessive, but for a customisation whore such as myself, I couldn’t help but try them all out. Interestingly, this does change the game up too. Sometimes the visuals are very striking; other times, they look good but are impractical. A bit like the cinematic cameras in Rockstar games. 

The game delivers in every way for the core gameplay, and I was pleasantly surprised by how much fun was had. But it’s not all bells and whistles. Let’s poo on the game from a reasonable height.

My only real issue with the game was the timing for the vehicle sections. They’re a nice way to pad out the game with variety, but they outstay their welcome. Play in a mech, a vertical scrolling starship, a submarine, a gun turret, and a ‘freefalling’ rope section which was like pulling teeth. This isn’t an easy game, so it’s irritating when you inevitably die and have to repeat these areas. And, because we’re being honest, boring.

Other than the story mode, there’s an arcade section of mini-games. Again, this adds value to the game; only these tasks drag, such as a sniper mode that feels neverending but is relatively short. That said, it’s an optional mode and a bonus. Besides, I surprised myself and finished the speedrun challenge, but with depressing results! Except for the vehicles spoiling the tempo, small bros – a solo dev! – has done an exceptional job with their second game.

To be clear, I really liked B.I.O.T.A. despite a few niggles, and can happily recommend this to fans of retro gaming, handhelds, arcade, Metroidvania and entertaining platformers. It would be perfect on the Switch, but in the meantime, endorse it on Steam, which was the version I reviewed here. Stop fannying about and go look it up.

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