THOTH is a twin-stick shooter with light puzzle elements. It’s a decidedly minimal game in both gameplay and visual aesthetic.
THOTH controls like a typical twin-stick shooter. The main difference is that after killing enemies, they still chase after you. Because they are already dead, you are forced to dodge them rather than shoot them. This meshes perfectly with the game’s puzzles, which usually involve basic triggers, either timed or based on an enemy’s death. For example, some levels feature enemies that speed up after dying, so you want to save them for last. Other levels have walls that raise and lower every few seconds, locking you into a specific area. There are many different mechanics like this, and they give the otherwise repetitive gameplay new life. The puzzles never become complex or mentally challenging, but they require just enough brainpower to pull your attention away from the mindless shooting. It’s an impressive balancing act that THOTH pulls off beautifully.
Every level in THOTH is a basic rectangle with assorted hazards. Even though this could easily become repetitive, the hazard variety carries the game. Levels are divided into batches of four, usually with an overarching theme. The first one introduces a new mechanic, while the next three expand on it. It’s remarkable how distinct each set of levels is. They always manage to bring a new angle to the gameplay, forcing you to change your tactics to fit whatever mechanics the game throws at you.
Difficulty-wise, THOTH is middle-of-the-road. The later levels get more difficult, but it’s never overwhelming. If you lose twice in a row, you have to restart from the first level in the group. You can beat most of them in less than 30 seconds, so you’ll never lose much progress. The only major challenge in the game comes at the very end when you unlock the challenge groups. Some are randomly generated, which prevents you from practicing or memorizing the levels. Others are exceedingly large groups, such as the final one consisting of 64 levels. These aren’t part of the main game, so most players won’t get to this point unless they enjoy masochistic difficulty, but it’s a fun bonus for completionists.
THOTH is a masterclass in minimalist design. From a technical standpoint, the graphics are bad. Everything in the game is made up of basic geometric figures with essentially no detail at all. Yet THOTH manages to use an excellent color palette to liven up the otherwise drab visuals. To further improve the visuals, 2D objects are also given three-dimensional movement. This means that while most enemies are just rectangles, they rotate like a rectangular prism. It gives enemies an otherwordly quality when combined with the outer space background that their death reveals.
The fantastic soundtrack heightens this aesthetic. It features droning synths, distorted electronic passages, and occasionally booming drums. The heavy use of distortion effects creates an unnerving, bizarre atmosphere that compliments the visuals nicely. There aren’t many different tracks, but it’s more than enough, given the game’s length.
THOTH is an excellent twin-stick shooter that takes a stale genre and breathes new life into it. The visuals are great, the soundtrack is unique, and the gameplay is engaging. The only possible flaw would be its length, but it’s more than enough for a $5 game. I would highly recommend THOTH to anyone, even if they don’t usually like the genre, simply because of how fresh and innovative it feels.