The game mostly plays like a traditional First Person Shooter, where the screen is your field of view, with a small proportion of it at the bottom taken up by your weapon (the symbiotic Macroterra bug), and an area at the top of the screen is your H.U.D.. You move around the maze with the usual combination of WASD (PC version) with additional actions using the Space and Tab keys... As is customary now, the game uses mouselook, and the mouse buttons fire your primary and secondary weapons... the scroll wheel is also used to change between different fire modes, and unusually, scrolling up changes the primary by looping through the available attacks, and scrolling down changes the secondary. For me, this took a little bit of getting used to, although I tended to stick with the same attacks.
Where xotic differs from other FPS games however, is the emphasis on scoring points, collecting multipliers, beating the clock and getting a High Score on each level... there are lots of ways to ramp up the points too, with bonuses for killing enemies while in mid-air... collecting Orb essence in mid-air... racking up long chains of scab plant kills.. etc. It also feels like a 3d platform game, as a lot of the time you will be jumping either between objects, or onto platforms that you create.
Another main difference is that enemies are a lot less frequent than in most FPS games, with maybe a dozen or so on each level, in varying combinations of moving humanoid enemies and static gun emplacements. There are also some nasty crawling insects that spawn from hard to spot dirt-heaps. Therefore the main focus of play is in shooting the scab plants, collecting the orb essence and killing the orb brains in the time, though all the enemies need to be killed in order to complete the level, and this can be done regardless of what proportion of the other goals you have completed.
The focus on collecting points over killing enemies makes the game feel a bit more casual for a First Person Shooter, however the time pressure and level design definitely doesn't make it an easy game.
Graphics and Sound
While not the best FPS game graphics I've seen, Xotic certainly has a very distinctive and rather lush graphical style that seems to fit the game rather well... there's also an interesting contrast between the background, which is a decaying technological world, and the bright colours of the plants that you release by shooting the scabs.
The Macroterra weapon is very cool looking, and has some neat animations when you are firing, jumping etc. It does lack the variety of having different weapons that you can change between, like in other FPS games, though the variety of attack types is not lacking, with a total of 8 different primary and secondary weapons.
The sound is well done, with some really nice sounds effects for shooting, scoring points, killing enemies etc. While the background music is good, without being either particularly memorable, or too intrusive... it fits in really well with the game and adds to the atmosphere without being distracting in any way.
Duration and Replayability
I completed the campaign mode in the base game, on easy difficultly, in about 5 hours, which may not sound like much, but is pretty good for the price. There are also 3 other game modes on each level, which are Scab Attack, Essence Attack and Brain Attack, where you concentrate on one type of goal.
There are 3 difficulty levels, which affects how much time you have to complete the level, and in addition to that, on each level you earn a star rating out of 5 for how well you performed, so if you are a completionist, then you can spend a lot more time trying to perfect each level. I have managed 5 stars on maybe 60%+ of the levels so far, on easy difficulty.
I can see myself dipping into this game occasionally, given the nature of the levels and the slightly casual feel to the game, I see it as a good FPS game to 'relax' with.