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  • Writer's pictureBarely Magic Mike

Boti: Byteland Overclocked Review - The Perfect Game for Fans of Astro Bot?

Boti: Byteland Overclocked Review - Written by Barely Magic Mike


As somebody lucky enough to own a PS5 and a dedicated gaming PC, I wouldn’t blame PC-exclusive gamers for casting a jealous eye toward Sony’s Astrobot series. Though the adorable little bot is himself pretty underutilized, having only starred in a Playstation VR-exclusive 3D platformer and then an incredibly short but masterfully executed launch title for the PS5, there’s no doubt that Astrobot has won over many hearts including my own. I’m a huge fan of 3D platformers, albeit a bit picky with them, and frankly I love indie devs for working overtime to give the genre the revival it needs in a way most AAA devs aren’t bothering with.


boti byteland gameplay
The game is shockingly demanding but can look quite lovely on the right rig

The reason I bring up Astro Bot at all, though, is because it’s very clearly the inspiration for Boti: Byteland Overclocked, the latest in 3D platformers to have you run, jump, glide and slide through beautifully colorful computer-themed landscapes. And in the first couple of hours, I have to say – I was surprisingly impressed and wondered where the heck this game even came from.


Make no mistake – Astro Bot’s ungodly levels of polish were not present here from the beginning, but it was a solid approximation in the same way store-brand crème-filled chocolate cookies could taste just like Oreos if you close your eyes firmly enough. If only the aftertaste of Boti: Byteland Overclocked wasn’t so bitter.


Boti: Byteland Overclocked is a classic 3D platformer that can be played either single player or coop with a friend either locally or online. You play as Boti, a databot that spends the game’s 5 hour runtime traversing Byteland’s wildly vivid environments, interacting with other bots and getting rid of bugs and viruses along the way. Boti is accompanied by two floating robotic orb companions named One and Zero, whose primary function in the game is a complete inability to shut the fuck up.


I’m so serious and can’t get this point out of the way quickly enough – while the characters are voiced well and charmingly written, the overwhelming regularity of their repeated quips is like a cheese grater to my goddamn brain. During many a combat encounter, for example, you will likely hear this: “Nice work Boti! They won’t be bothering anybot again! Thank goodness for that”. And you’ll hear it over. And over. And over. I might have heard it 100 times, I’m not even sure. And this is the first of many examples of how Boti, despite the best of intentions, is a game of reasonably good highs and deeply mediocre lows, and all the while struggles to come out of Astro Bot’s shadow.


But let’s start with the good. Boti’s presentation is excellent. The environments here are clearly designed with so much care, and there’s no better example of this than the numerous robotic NPCs littered throughout each level. Generally these characters pay you no mind, but similar to Astrobot, they’re just hanging out, playing games, or doing something silly everywhere you look. As a result, the worlds you traverse throughout the campaign feel vivacious and full of life. It’s really hard to play Boti without a smile on your face when you’re constantly passing two bots enthusiastically playing volleyball or a group of them joyously watching a group of dancing crabs.


This wouldn’t have near the same impact if the animation weren’t up to par, but all of the animations in Boti are stellar. Boti himself is incredibly cute, from the way he uses his ears to break apart boxes to the way he rotates them like helicopter rotors when you want to float down from a high jump. Even the music is a total winner, with catchy tunes that genuinely would stay in my head long after I’d powered the game down. If you’re looking for a 3D platformer that looks and feels modern, your first impressions here will be very positive.

As long as you have the rig to run it. Hopefully this won’t be too much of a damper for many, but Boti is a demanding game. I didn’t struggle to run it at max settings and 4k on a 4080, but on lower end hardware I could certainly see it struggling. On the steam deck especially, seemingly even the very lowest settings, use of FSR included, could not get the game to even reach 30 fps, nevermind stabilize it there. So while it does technically boot up, I would call the game playable on Deck only by the most technical stretch of the word playable. It’s not a good experience at all and if you’re hoping to play it that way, I’d highly recommend you hold off for some optimization.


boti byteland more gameplay
Players looking for a challenge won't really find that here

I should clarify, the reason I worry about lower end hardware is because while I ran the game fine with a 4080, lowering settings or turning raytracing off didn’t seem to impact the frame rate very much at all. Turning on dynamic resolution scaling, which is so vaguely labeled in the settings menu I couldn’t tell it if was FSR, DLSS or just a standard resolution scalar, is the only thing that seemed to yield a material number of extra frames, and even then at a serious cost to visual quality. That said, at least at the time of this review, Boti has a free demo available on Steam. So I implore you, if you’re at all interested, please play the demo before buying Boti to ensure that you can run it in a way you deem acceptable.

Boti’s presentation is its greatest asset, but the basic gameplay is also pretty solid. Once you get past just how shiny and charming it all is, this is a classic 3D platforming collectathon at heart filled with lots of areas to explore, costumes to find, and challenges to beat. While there is currency like Botcoins you can collect to get upgrades, the upgrade system isn’t especially interesting, including things like extra health and a larger range for the scanner that I literally never used. Controlling Boti, who has a double jump, dash, body slam and a couple of magnetic abilities that come into play later on, feels responsive and satisfying… for the most part.


But there are some key problems that firmly hold the game back and made my extremely positive impression of the first hour or two feel a little hollow in retrospect. For one, while I don’t subscribe to the notion that platformers always have to be difficult, I prefer them to not be trivially easy either, and Boti is certainly what I’d call trivially easy for a vast majority of its runtime. In earlier levels I think I only died once and by accident, and in later levels I died a lot more, but not for reasons I’m particularly happy about - I’ll get to that shortly. The core of Boti’s issues with difficulty tie hand in hand with its issues in level design – because while this is a short game at only about 5 hours long even with some extra exploring, after the 1 and a half to 2-hour mark, my enthusiasm started to deflate as I watched the game rapidly run out of ideas and start repeating obstacles ad nauseum. Repetition, sadly, seems to be the core design philosophy at play here. While a few new types of obstacles like disappearing platforms or grapple points do appear as the game goes on, the concepts never really get off the ground and build to anything interesting. The disappearing and reappearing platform you go past in the second hour of the game is going to look and behave identically to the one in the last hour of the game, and certainly doesn’t become any more interesting for it.


And frankly, the less said about Boti’s combat, the better. It’s inoffensive at least, but could not possibly be any simpler. You can dash into enemies, you can hit them with Boti’s standard attack, or you can jankily jump and body slam them in a way that doesn’t feel especially accurate or effective. I can’t recall any more than 3 or 4 different enemy types I even faced throughout the game, and even among those there isn’t really any difference in the way you fight them. Just run up, bash away for a bit, and maybe get out of the way of certain enemies that explode upon death. That’s really it, and while none of the combat presented the slightest bit of challenge, the monotony of it by the final hours was a challenge of its own.


robots boti byteland
Despite some bugs and odd design choices the game is still fun at times

Unfortunately, another challenge I faced as I made my way through Boti’s story is the game just gets more and more buggy and janky as it goes on. The early hours felt pretty polished, but later in the game I was dealing with multiple progress-blocking bugs, such as jumping platforms that were inexplicably invisible and gadgets that wouldn’t activate. Closing out and restarting the game fixed these issues immediately, and the developer is aware of and actively working on at least the former of them, but I’m hoping the game that releases is substantially more polished than the one I played, and of course, can’t promise that it will be.


Actual bugs aside though, some design decisions in Boti felt increasingly strange as I made my way through it. Many levels have rails you could seemingly grind on like a throwback to Ratchet and Clank, but instead Boti slowly walks along them, and might just yeet himself off the edge if you dare point the camera far enough off his intended path. Our protagonist’s speed in general could have used a little kick in the bot, with him often moving at a pace that made me want to dash forward a few times just to hurry things up.


Overall, if you’re craving a 3D platformer and have a capable enough rig to run it, Boti: Byteland Overclocked is a pretty decent time. It’s not going to win any awards for level design, and its limited design ideas wear out their welcome far before the finale, which itself was oddly abrupt with credits popping up in the middle of a dialogue sequence. But if you can handle some jank and want something cute, charming and easy to play through, Boti’s not a bad choice. And hey, the hub area lets you walk around with a cat on your head, so that’s something. Boti may not reinvent the 3D platformer or live up to its inspirations, but keep your expectations in check and you might have a pretty good time.


Pros:

  • Excellent all-around presentation

  • Characters are charming and well-animated

  • Levels are fun to explore

Cons:

  • Later game gets pretty buggy

  • Uninspired level design

  • Companion quips get very annoying

  • Rough optimization


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