It's hard to dislike a game that isn't afraid to include a mission goal that calls for you to "Climb into the deepest depths of your soul." However, this one then doesn't make that mission goal some kind of purgative final encounter or, at the very least, the final task of that particular level. So it's hard to dislike but not impossible to dislike Psychotoxic, a long-in-development shooter from Germany that--despite occasional bursts of endearing "deepest depths of your soul" wackiness--is ruined by sloppy design, bugs, and a desperate need for some editing.
The cartoon bunny world.
It's 2022, and the Apocalypse is either about to start or has started. The state of Armageddon isn't entirely clear. Regardless, you play Angela Prophet, who, according to one of the game's many misspelled dialogue captions, is the "Choosen One." Because you're half angel, you've been "choosen" to stop both the fourth horseman of the Apocalypse and the self-proclaimed reincarnation of Aleister Crowley, a guy called Aaron who wears a giant cowboy hat and runs a death cult committed to worldwide chaos.
In keeping with the biblical theme, Psychotoxic's bugs--much like the demons living inside the possessed man in Mark 5--are legion. Expect these bugs to corrupt save games on a regular basis. And when the game's good and tuckered out from that, expect it to faint directly to the desktop. Sometimes your weapons will refuse to reload until you cycle through them a couple of times. Other times, Psychotoxic will grind to a two or three frame-per-second halting stutter for the remainder of a level. In one mission, you're wearing a big diving helmet, except when it sporadically disappears. When it's in place, however, your gun is alarmingly inside the helmet with you. So it's kind of a relief when the helmet goes missing. At one point, you're supposed to locate a contact in Central Park. There's a good chance you'll scour the park for hours before accidentally stumbling across the empty bench that triggers the meeting...and the end of the level. Is the missing character model a bug or a design problem? In a game rife with both, that's a real toughie.
On the positive side, when they're working, the quicksave and quickload are truly pretty quick. And for once, a marketing blurb actually understates some of a game's features. When the back of the box claims there are 29 levels, it's being modest. We counted 30. But who's counting? Well, us...and anyone else forced to trudge through the seemingly endless parade of endless levels. In a time when 10-hour, 11- or 12-level shooters have become the standard, Psychotoxic features 30 long missions and maybe 20 hours of gameplay (more depending on how unlucky you get with the game's inherent instability).
Psychotoxic proves that longer is not necessarily better. The design philosophy seems to have been: If climbing two sets of stairs with an enemy on each landing is fun, 10 sets of stairs must be a hundred times better! Most levels consist of cramped, twisty corridors inhabited by enemies standing around waiting for you to shoot them. Enemy artificial intelligence is primitive, and your movement is way too loose, the combination of which makes the combat simultaneously boring and aggravating.