BIOTA is an indie metroidvania and for some reason it really got to me. i really love it I love the choice of color palettes, at least one of which brings a sort of holiday ice chic to the game’s sci-fi horror. I love the rudeness of art. I love the chugging chiptune soundtrack. I love the fact that it’s all set on an asteroid.
Most of all, I’m a fan of games where each screen is its own fixed entity of the world. For some reason, these are the games that feel the most like real locations. Run over the edge of the screen in BIOTA and you’ll land on a new screen. Go back and the enemies have reappeared. I love it.
I think it’s particularly useful for a Metroidvania because your brain kind of has a snapshot of each environment, the layout of the platforms and what you have, and so it’s easier to start creating your own internal map – a map that at least in is Share a map of exits and entrances, of invisible doors connecting highly visible spaces.
Because you’re on an asteroid in BIOTA, it’s very mining oriented – the worlds I move through in the first part of the game are industrial areas, hasty shafts cobbled together with lots of fans and vents and temperature management. For some reason, the pixel art captures this particularly well: I can almost feel the uncomfortable heat radiating off the screen. Going deeper – a must in this type of game – also means getting warmer.
It’s a relief to have things to lash out at, especially as this clunky art brings a sort of gormless charm to the horrors of Cthulhuian. I especially love a kind of puddle of eyeballs that can stick to walls. It’s disgusting, but deeply endearing. I never tire of meeting him.
Initially, BIOTA was a bit overwhelming: it’s compact, but also densely tunneled – you have to make a lot of left/right, up/down choices, which are choices I always find a bit crippling in Metroidvanias. Eventually, however, I died enough and chose enough that I began returning to familiar places from unfamiliar angles. So the decisions aren’t the kind of decisions that mean you’re missing out.
I’m staying with BIOTA. It brings back fond memories of Gato Roboto, another chunky Metroidvania full of charm. And it’s a pleasure to explore. And most importantly, I just found something incredible in the depths and it really changed everything.