The cuteness potential of axolotls remains woefully underutilized in modern gaming, a problem that new action roguelites are addressing AK-xolotl tried to solve. It’s a gun-filled, cutesy game about everyone’s favorite endangered neotenous amphibian that mixes the shooter mechanics of the defining classic roguelite Nuclear throne with some light cooking and baby care mechanics. From its beginnings as a successful Kickstarter project to its full release, the end result feels a bit like a game jam entry or a test case for a larger project, but AK-xolotl remains a good way to bridge the gap between more substantial action roguelite activities.
A charming intro sequence brings Sir David Attenborough-esque commentary to a family of axolotls in the wild. The adorable creatures are absolutely fascinating in real life, despite their cartoon counterparts AK-xolotl are more concerned about a stolen meat locker than the family members murdered off-camera by an unseen predator, but this act of violence sends them on a quest for revenge for their losses, completely locked and laden with their namesake.
Yes, the game’s armed amphibious premise never goes far beyond the titular pun, but it’s a serviceable shortcut that gets the game straight into the action with minimal effort. The feeling and essence here is largely derived from Vlambeer’s now ten year old title Nuclear throne, an early warning shot for the action roguelite genre that combines challenging top-down run’n’gunning with randomized levels and three mutations. However, this isn’t a deciding factor, and countless other games have followed this same framework. Here it is allowed AK-xolotl‘s gameplay too Feel instantly recognizable and responsive as players can shoot, switch weapons, dodge and romp around each small procedurally generated arena.
A lot of AK-xolotlThe novelty of is the hub area, where players are abruptly returned after each failed run. Here, eventual options appear to interact with any baby “Axolittles” found during a playthrough. These can then be cared for, aged, and fed special cooked meals and desserts to add various modifiers to their playstyle. Once they come of age, they become a new optional character, who may have a simple active ability or a slight change to their starting stats.
Other features of the hub include providers such as a Vulture that non-lethally absorbs the luck of Axolittles to provide permanent buffs and summon direct references The Dark Crystal. It is not the only reference of this kind in AK-xolotlwhich gets pretty sloppy with its memes, pop culture hat tips, and even direct references to other action roguelites like… The Binding of Isaac or the less known Flaming beaks.
Simplified gameplay and limited content
It is therefore concerning that one of the games referenced in AK-xolotl tends to have more gameplay variety, mutations and unpredictability. The five primary levels/biomes are mostly simple reskins of each other, and the individual battle arenas tend to be simple and small. The enemies are mostly a variety of anthropomorphic animals with weapons, and the supply of random weapon drops can be increased by spending gems in the camp. Blue Treasure Chests provide one of three selectable benefits, but aside from a few drastic damage boosts, most don’t have much of an impact or provide any creative inspiration for a unique build.
Each level contains one to three alternating routes with no backtracking, and they all end at the same boss every time, with no mini-bosses, corruption effects, or elite enemies to mess with. There are hardly any environmental hazards, no challenge loop system, no multiplayer mode, or seemingly anything else that extends the game’s longevity in any way. It’s a shame, because AK-xolotl‘s shooting gameplay is still simple but effective, and it would be better utilized if the game gave players more interesting things to shoot or better skill tests. Even the Axolittles baby-raising mechanic is functionally wasted after enough luck has been reaped, as creating multiple avatars is a given in practice; Find a favorite combination of buffs and abilities, and there’s little reason to ever try another.
There are also a few small problems and bugs AK-xolotl which will hopefully be eradicated in the near future. Any enemies that throw projectiles will also push the player around, as it appears that no depth system has been programmed into these types of weapon effects. There’s a bug in shops that causes all items to be free to purchase after the table is reset, and explosions and fire effects have an irritating tendency to damage the player even after the visual effect is over. The soundtrack contains a nice, energetic mix of tracks, but most focus on a single motif, which can become tiring after the first few hours.
Final thoughts and evaluation result
Perhaps AK-xolotl The game was rushed to market, or perhaps the developer is already working on the next game. What’s left is an entertaining but underweight action roguelite that could have used a little more polish and a lot more content for the asking price. The end credits should last around five hours for most players, which is a low number for a generally demanding genre that practically requires a number of meaningful post-game mechanics. These are the missing fundamentals that are disappearing AK-xolotl Looks like a hungry creature looking for a better place to live.
AK-xolotl will be released on September 14th for PC, Nintendo Switch, PlayStation 5, PlayStation 4, Xbox One and Xbox Series X|S. A digital PC code was provided Screen rant for the purpose of this review.
https://screenrant.com/ak-xolotyl-review/ “An entertaining but underweight action roguelite”