The independent video game industry offers a huge variety of experiences, but there are some genres that are much more exploited than others. Maybe it’s because of how accessible they are to programming or because they are intuitive formulas for gamers that don’t require too many tutorials, but los metroidvania with retro graphics they have ceased to be a trend to be a very particular phenomenon. In the sea of indie options to enjoy the genre, this week has arrived BIOTAthe new work of Little brothers. Does it have elements that separate it from other experiences?
The title begins with a story worthy of an ’80s action movie, because much of its essence seeks to pay homage to a retro era where games weren’t characterized by graphics. A special forces team must travel to an asteroid to contain a threat that could destroy Earth.
Players can choose between different characters to take on this adventure, each with a unique main weapon and special weapon. Some soldiers are ideal for ranged attacks, while others rely much more on explosives or short range weapons with greater impact. In addition, other protagonists can be added over the course of the levels, such as a doctor who can heal and a fundamental robot to overcome a small segment of the game. Completing the campaign also unlocks more characters for those interested in replay value.
BIOTA doesn’t have too many explanations of its controls because they are quite intuitive. The title also features classic mechanics from other metroidvania and platformers, such as jump on the wall, which allows us to act instantly. To extend this feeling, the game also has a dedicated quick save button, allowing you to not only save the game at almost any time, but also get back to the action almost instantly when you die.
Navigation through the different scenarios and biomes takes place with the map, which reveals the areas when we visit them. To advance to all the bosses and beat the campaign you need to go through the map in a certain order, getting keys and activating door switches that block the passage. Along the way there are also shops that allow you to improve the life and ammunition of all characters, as well as obtain improvements, keys or specific items to advance in the campaign.
If these descriptions of BIOTA’s mechanics are applicable to dozens of other video games, it’s because the Small Bros title doesn’t innovate too much on that side. The action is frenetic and some particular scenarios force you to try again and again to survive, albeit without unfair enemies or a diabolical difficulty.
BIOTA has some interesting segments with vehicles, like spaceships, submarines or robots, which have a very different pace and sometimes change the camera perspective too, turning it into another game for a while. This is a sensation similar to that generated by Cyber Shadow last yeareven if without its elaborate pixelart.
Instead, BIOTA’s unique feature is its palette modifier. During the adventure, players come across specimens that they must collect to better understand this threat that could come to Earth. Aside from the fact that these are items that will determine which of the two possible endings you get, they also unlock different color palettes for you to experiment with. In total there are more than 50 palettes of four colors and each refers to specific eras or game titles.
It is a more than interesting mechanic, which manages to change the aesthetics of the game from moment to moment without transitions or loading screens. The only drawback is that some of these palettes can be a little tiring to look at, but the variety is so wide that it’s virtually impossible to get bored with this section.
I had the chance to test BIOTA on an ASUS Vivobook Pro 15 OLED notebook provided by the people of AMD and I can’t think of a better screen to see the color palettes than a Pantone validated. While not a video game that requires a powerful PC behind it, the AMD Ryzen 9 5900HX processor with its Zen 3 architecture allowed for an uninterrupted gaming experience, something that goes hand in hand with BIOTA and its fast-paced action. In addition, the ability to configure game-specific profiles made it possible to take full advantage of the machine’s features without sacrificing image quality or increasing the volume of the fans.
Beyond color palettes and enemy-laden vehicle segments, BIOTA doesn’t have much else to set it apart from other metroidvania. Fortunately, every new video game doesn’t need to revolutionize some aspect or mechanics with its gameplay. As well as Infernax a few months ago, BIOTA is an ideal title for those who want to relive the nostalgia of 8-bit titles, but without their cumbersome mechanics, their primitive save systems or the limitations of the technology of the time.
With BIOTA and its previous title, Spectral matter, the Small Bros studio has shown that they are fans of retrogaming and that they know how to elevate some of the formulas that have been exploited for decades. In both cases they managed to innovate with new and more than interesting elements while presenting very refined adventures with a fairly modern pace. Without being wonderful, they are experiences lasting a couple of hours ideal for cutting between open world titles of hundreds of hours and games as a service that require even more.