Botolo [official site] – a two player landgrab game with a kind of stylised quilt aesthetic – is out now and it does look lovely. You might need to bear with me a bit today because insomnia has resulted in a vastly diminished vocabulary. I’ve already called the fridge the “cold oven” and the washing machine a “clothes masher” today. Anyway! What do you do in Botolo?
The trailer refers to it as a “mindsport” which I like, although watching said trailer was actually less instructive for me than peeking at the gifs on the website.
You and your opponent are the red and blue blobs and you’re fighting over the beight ball with the shield around it. Holding the ball and hovering on a point zone is how you capture it and you can see the meter filling up with your colour as you do so.
You can steal the ball from someone by moving your blob next to theirs and pressing the action button, but they can press their own action button to try to block you. Successful blocking gives you a point boost, failure to block means you lose the ball.
You can’t just stand there pressing “block” though as that means your shield (the concentric ring around you and the ball) shrinks. If it disappears you can’t block at all.
There’s also a single player mode where you can play against an adaptive AI but generally it feels really friendly to the kind of pick-up-and-play you need at public gaming evenings or if you’re having a local multiplayer party at your house. I like how Ian Snyder, the developer, explains it:
“Imagine skill in a game, especially in multiplayer games, as a kind of language — anytime we play a game together, we’re holding a conversation. Let’s say that we’re playing one of your favorite games, and you’re really, really good at it. You’ve spent months learning the language of this game, immersing yourself in its grammar of input, and when you play it’s like beautiful, fluid poetry. However, this is my first time playing. I’m still learning how to pronounce words, what those words mean, when to use them… I can only hope that you’re patient with me as I babble incoherently. When I lose, as I inevitably will, I will not be able to understand why beyond a sort of vague notion that you’re better at the game than I am even able to comprehend.
“But it’s beautiful when two people finally do reach the same level in a game like this. They volley back and forth, responding to one another with alacrity and wit. My aim with BOTOLO was to create a game whose competitive language was still just as expressive, but, perhaps, whose words and grammar were simpler and easier to learn. I wanted new players to very quickly be able to speak.”
I’m also a big fan of the feature list :D
- Gorgeous, rich textures of pattern and color
- Eleven playable classes, each with a unique twist on the core game
- Robust AI that adapts to and learns from you as you play
- Procedural music that swells and recedes with the flow of the match
- Score thing
- Singleplayer mode for when your friends just can’t be bothered
- A gradual merge of the self and the other until one cannot be certain whether a thought originates from within oneself or without
- Endless void
- Player two
Botolo is out on Windows and Mac for £10.99/14,99€/$14.99 through Steam, Itch, and Humble. I figure that at that price point I’d probably wait until I’ve tried it at an event (I know some people will have played at EGX) or when I’m next hosting a multiplayer thing. If you had a go at EGX can you let me know what it was like? I’m wondering whether the textures and patterns affect the legibility when you’re actually playing? I’m guessing it might also be a bit tougher on people with particular forms of colourblindness.