The 3D platformer is my home—some of my favourite memories harken back to the days of timing difficult jumps and eventually getting so good at the game, replays would be all about “how can I break this game and beat it faster?”. Heck, a lot of my 3D awareness I owe to platformers. An abundant genre decades back, it saw a slump (thankfully covered by the occasional indie) before picking back up once more. Particularly by many Polish developers, putting out solid romps like Kao the Kangaroo and the recent SpongeBob.
Purple Ray Studio is another studio to that list. Developers of Boti: Byteland Overclocked, a 3D platformer that takes place within the confines of a person’s computer. Boti recently caught my eye, its beautiful visuals and unique setting piqued my curiosity and I was eager to try it.
There’s a few ZIP files to unpack here—let’s get decompressing.
Boti starts off being shipped to the Kernel, who inspects our little bot before assigning him the position of ‘courier’ and giving him a set of companions to help him out on his work. These two floating adorable bots are aptly named ‘Zero’ and ‘One’ and though the game doesn’t say much about them, they may as well be sisters—but I’ll touch on that later. Kernel mentions off-hand that the workload of their computer would go faster if they would simply overclock the processor. And so the bots get ahead of themselves and head to the central tower, hit a bunch ‘o buttons, and everything goes wrong—So now you’ve gotta fix it.
I would say the world of Byteland is the game’s biggest draw. The way the environments draw inspiration based on the workings of an actual computer are adorable. Like a recreation of a child’s imagination were they to think about the machinations of a PC. You have bots running around, fulfilling their duties or taking breaks. Some are at home, living their lives and watching the telly or throwing parties. Other parts of the computer are dank and decrepit like the overworked graphics processing unit (“GPU”) or the far side of the world that the power supply resides in.
It’s also a beautiful game. There’s a lot of energy to the world, be it the animated denizens of Byteland doing their thing (or getting smacked by you) or the varied environments that you’ll come across as you progress through the game. The lighting is excellent as it emphasises Byteland’s strong art direction and the reflections that come from the RTX features are a nice touch.
Do note however that this makes Boti quite a demanding game compared to it’s contemporaries. Graphical settings are limited, but the game does offer a dynamic resolution setting. The developers have mentioned the game is particularly demanding on your central processing unit (“CPU”) so bear that in mind.
Run, Jump, Cycle
Exploring Byteland as Boti and experiencing it’s progression, it reminds me a lot of Crash Twinsanity. Boti has roughly eight levels of exploration and a hub world which you can expand with collected Megabytes and Botcoins found throughout Byteland. These levels start out as very large playing areas with quite a few nooks and crannies to check out and this is where I primarily found a lot of my fun. A lot of my playtime was primarily spent breaking ZIP-file ‘crates’ and collecting “all the data” as One would frequently say. Our little guy has a lot of costumes he can find and unlock through QR codes as well, which is really nice.
Boti features an excellent character controller. He walks, dashes, and spins with no problems and he’s got a lot of weight to boot. He’s easy to use and beginners to veterans should have no problems combing Byteland for its secrets. One thing I didn’t like about Boti, however, is that our little guy is unable to hang from ledges. This one is a bit surprising because, of all the 3D platformers I’ve played in my lifetime, that was the one ommission I wasn’t expecting at all. Sure, little Boti doesn’t hands but I’m sure it could’ve worked somehow, as certain jumps became a little more frustrating than they had to be as a result. But nothing that would block anyone from progressing.
Boti also has a few environmental puzzles he can work out that usually involve magnets and dragging ballistas or spheres around. The usual stuff, but they work well when they do show up. There’s a little sliding minigame that all the levels feature that I enjoyed, which involved hitting all the notes on your way down (and they’re easily repeatable). I did not enjoy the karting sequences, however, as controlling the thing was like trying to drive a car on a straight road, but the car was more interested in strafing all the way.
Otherwise it’s pure platforming, though I do wish there were more puzzles scattered around because the levels do lose their luster over time—lemme follow up on that.
Boti has just about all the right ideas, the recipe for success. But as I played the game through, I began to lose interest in its level design and challenges. One of the reasons why is that the large exploration areas start to become more narrow and focused on heading to the next checkpoint. I found said large roaming areas to be Boti’s strength, because otherwise its level design is very straightforward and outright punishing if you try to backtrack. That’s where most of my deaths came from, seeing that I missed out on a coin and me trying to jump back on platforms not timed for that got me a bit flustered. Besides that, if the game has a collectible that you can potentially grab with the right footwork, Byteland doesn’t like that and you’ll sometimes find invisible walls at the most inopurtune times.
Another issue I had with Boti is that, despite the beautiful visuals, those don’t trickle down to sound effects and player impact very well. For example, Boti will run into these platforms that despawn and respawn moments apart. Fair enough, seen those a bunch. But unlike other games, these platforms aren’t accompanied by proper sound effects (or at least, they weren’t audible). Sound is key for platforming as it is for combat. Boti will run into groups of baddies that will try to swarm him and wack him down a peg. Hitting these bots isn’t impactful as I hoped it would be and a lack of sound effects on hit or death had me uninterested in engaging in combat—when I could avoid it, I would.
But in the end I rarely had to fight baddies. My playthrough of Boti was hit with a number of bugs, particularly in the later half of the game. Small issues like persistent UI icons aren’t a problem, but at some point my game had enemy AI becoming nonfunctional, causing me to skip certain sections of the game unintentionally. I had cutscenes load in with no audio, platform models not load in, level end triggers not functioning, the island hub not calculating bits exchange properly, etcetera. Some of these required a client restart to get past and a PC reboot for good measure. Certain mechanics that get introduced have no context pop-ups either, so figuring out how they work is a bit of guesswork.
I did run these by the development team and I am confident that any large issues will be fixed. And hey, maybe the game just hated me. Stranger things have happened.
Boti is a charming game. The ‘sisters’ I mentioned, Zero and One accompanying you helps keep the boredom at bay. They’ll comment on your actions and new parts of the level that you come across. And even though they have a tendency to repeat themselves quite a bit (Alarum Bots) I’d find Boti to be a lot duller without them around. You can disable their idle chatter in the menu if you’d like, however. Lastly, Boti has cooperative play. The levels are designed for two players in mind, so you’ll have no issues running about and causing chaos. I did local coop with my little sibling and had a good bit of fun, but online play is supported otherwise.
Ultimately I’m a bit torn on Boti: Byteland Overclocked. On one hand, it’s gorgeous and charming, but it’s gameplay and the myriad of bugs I ran into really soured the experience. On the other hand, Boti is still fun to play and I wouldn’t mind going back for the collectibles and a hundred percent run in the future. ∎
Boti Byteland Overclocked is slated for a Windows PC release on Steam on the 15th of September. A console version is planned for next year.
Boti: Byteland Overclocked
Windows 11 PC
- Beautiful visuals and a charming world await in Byteland.
- Strong character controller makes Boti fun to play, even if he can't quite ledge grab.
- Level design loses its luster as the game progresses.
- Combat lacks impact and sound effects aren't as prominent as they should be.
- A number of bugs soured my experience, particularly towards the later half of the game.