Xoo: Xeno Xafari

A lot of games offers a lot of things to see and do. I’m currently playing through the (probably) last expansion for the Binding of Isaac, which brings a lot of new things to the table (unlike the last expansion). But I don’t have the time to see it all, especially since I’m rusty and mediocre at the game (Jacob and Esau suck though)! Hell, I am a fool that wants to go back to 100% OMORI because I love it that much, but I can’t focus on that.

But what if… there was a game that offered a lot of things to see… that doesn’t take forever to do?

Xoo: Xeno Xafari is a game by Willy Elektrix/Andi Hagen made in OHRPGCE. It was a part of the Shorter Games with Worse Graphics bundle and it’s a remake of a game from their 1999: Megallennium 6-in-1 Mega Cart compilation.

In Xoo, you play as one of three characters going out on a safari on the titular Xoo Island, a place populated by strange creatures across the universe referred to as xenos. The main difference between characters are the small bits of narrative attributed to them via e-mails and their endings.

Playing the game is simple. You walk around, spending energy with each step, finding things to interact with. Interacting with a xeno gives a paragraph of nice flavor text, which your character records in their substantial xenodex. You can also pick up eggs to sell that will help you buy items that will enable you to find more xenos, as well as nuts that will give you more energy to walk around with for the next day. Run out of energy and your character returns to the last campsite they set up; there are spots around the island where you can set up a new home base so that you can start out in a preferred area on the next day.

Xoo: Xeno Xafari reminds me of one of those big open world games with tons of collectables that kinda piss me off unless I’m super invested in them. However, Xoo presents a far more condensed version of that experience. There’s lots of things to see, but you don’t put a lot of work into the act of doing so. You just have to go up to a xeno to get it recorded. Do you fight anyone? Nope. As I said, you’re just looking at cool things. Collecting the side objects is a simple percentage chance at fixed locations that you don’t really have to go out of your way to see, and if the roll doesn’t work in your favor? Ah well, just gotta come back tomorrow.

While condensed, the act of collecting still feels meaningful with the game’s flavor text. Each xeno has their own entry, painting their alien origins and their nature of being. Nuts and eggs may be generic collectables, but they’re also assigned a random bit of flavor text detailing the specific nut and egg they are. While there’s no mechanic difference between those passages (except for the egg rarity levels) and you’re likely to see all of them before collecting everything else in the game, it’s still a nice bit of flavor to the world. Through the writing, Xoo emulates the joys of discovering things without the work.

The only kinda game mechanic to really worry about is the game’s attribute system, because the attributes influence how you discover things. Hunting and Foraging affects the chances of creature spawns and nut spawns respectively. Exploring affects your likelihood to get into different areas, while Collecting affects the likelihood of getting the side collectables.

While you only get to invest in two of those attributes at the beginning, you can also randomly find books that will increase those attributes during your exploration. So honestly, just take your time. The game is perfectly designed for taking your time in that there’s enough collectables in the game that you’re bound to discover at least one new thing each day. In the process, you’re slowly building up the funds that will help you discover new things or things that you’re missing, so really, no rush.

The game has a really nice, bright look to it that brings a happy mood to your adventure. Though, the colorful yet mundane setting of the game is contrasted by the xeno designs. Each xeno has a unique look, from strangely colored versions of animals that we know and love, to the more alien and bizarre. Not to say that the developer skimped out on other areas, but it clearly feels that a lot of the art focus went into the hundreds of xeno sprites you’ll come across – which is fine by me! Also, I really love the music for the game. The game uses music made by Amiga Deluxe, repurposing their chiptune music into this island adventure. It really gives a peppy high energy vibe and a chill vibe simultaneously that I was really into, and I’ll be honest when I say that I left the game on in the background when I was doing something else at one point just to listen to the music. If you’re into nice chiptunes, you’ll be right at home with this game.

Xoo: Xeno Xafari is a nice, chill game to play with on an afternoon. It provided a relaxing time while still fulfilling my inner need to Do Stuff, and really, is there any better feeling?

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