Posted:  Oct 05, 2023
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AK-xolotl was provided by Playstack for review. Thank you!

There is something that pulls me in when a developer creates a game that puts a weird or unlikely spin on something adorable. And that is exactly what 2Awesome Studio has done with AK-xolotl. They decided to put guns into the hands of these adorable axolotls and send you on an adventure through the animal kingdom to kick-ass, use powerups, and raise your army of baby Axolotls that can have different abilities you give them as they grow up. While this roguelike shooter has a lot of charm and some interesting mechanics, it feels like they made a solid foundation that lacks substance.

The general core gameplay is similar to games like Enter the Gungeon. You will go into a roguelike dungeon, which puts you through multiple levels in different biomes and shoot your enemies. As you clear levels, you can choose which room to go in, giving you better secondary guns, more currency, power-ups, cooking items, or increasing your health. When you die, you go back to your hub and use the currency you have to unlock new items you will find in the dungeon.

AK-xolotl on Steam Deck

AK-xolotl spices things up a bit with your ability to shape your army. As you progress, you will find baby Axolotl and need to nurture them. You will use cooking ingredients to feed them and give them special abilities, which can be interesting. The game is packed with charm, coming from the adorable cutscenes when destroying bosses, your abilities, or even just nurturing the babies. But ultimately, the rest can feel a bit lackluster at times. The foundation is here, and it can be fun, but it needs a bit more polish and some item balancing before it becomes what it should be.

Thankfully, the developers have an extensive plan to do that with their new roadmap, with 4 themed updates planned out, with more coming after. I like what the game tries to do, so I am optimistic, especially since playing on the Steam Deck is nearly flawless.

AK-xolotl - Steam Deck Performance

Just as I had hoped when I first saw the game on Steam, AK-xolotl runs flawlessly on the Steam Deck without needing any changes or outside help. Right out of the box, the game runs at 60 FPS with around 7W - 8W battery drain, giving a solid 4.5 - 5 hours of battery life:


As for accessibility, we can choose different languages, change control inputs, change audio sliders and toggles for analytics, screen shaking, blood, vibration, and choose where the camera focuses. You can also change the level of aim assist you can get from the game, which could be helpful when playing with a gamepad.

The game doesn't support 16:10 resolutions, so there are black bars, but if you set the game to windowed mode and you are on SteamOS 3.5, you can stretch to fill those. There is also full controller and cloud save support.


AK-xolotl is a top-down roguelike shooter similar to Enter the Gungeon. It is packed with charm and an interesting meta-progression feature to build up your army of Axolotl. The foundation of something amazing is here, but there isn't enough to justify it yet. There needs to be a bit of balancing and more variety as you go through each run, especially at the beginning, which can feel like a slog. But I am optimistic. There is a lot of love here and potential for something great; it just needs to be realized.

It also runs so well on the Steam Deck without compromises, which makes it a Best on Deck game! Once this game has been updated, this will be an easy recommendation.

Our review is based on the PC version of this game.

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SDHQ's Build Score Breakdown

AK-xolotl has a ton of charm and a great foundation, but is missing some polish to elevate it. Luckily, it runs great on Steam Deck!

Build Score

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Noah Kupetsky
A lover of gaming since 4, Noah has grown up with a love and passion for the industry. From there, he started to travel a lot and develop a joy for handheld and PC gaming. When the Steam Deck released, it just all clicked.
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