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Preview: Overfall

29/02/2016
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Kickstarter is a domain racked with financial apprehension. Indeed, it’s a realm teeming with inviting propositions for wondrous games, but there’s always the innate possibility that your crowdfunding exploits will stretch your wallet, whilst leaving your quest-hungry digits decidedly under-worked. But whilst the notion of the demo – the revered ‘try before you buy’ – remains largely deceased, Pera Games’ venture into beta-testing offers a promising indicator of the dedication underlying Overfall’s fledgling Celtic adventure.

Developer: Pera Games
Publisher: Pera Games
Previewed on: PC Windows
Also Available On: Mac
Release Date: March 1

A review copy was provided by the publisher.

Overfall can simply be described as a roguelike strategy RPG that prides itself more on mechanics and gameplay than a clear-cut storyline. There’s certainly a tale at play here, but it’s a narrative ultimately driven by the player.

You’re cast in the role of two High-Seas heroes, who’ve been boated off by the King to venture through a magical portal, only to return three hundred years later, to a land in partitioned disarray. Your story is weaved from the realms you visit and the folk you meet; something that translates well into Overfall’s nordic atmosphere, the saga changes with each return you make to the game, and with each new encounter.

Overfall map

I began my quest with two classes at my disposal: The Fighter and the Cleric. Whilst there are many other types available, you’ll need to unlock them by completing various in-game quests. Each character class has its own specific skill-set, so there’s a little room to adapt your plucky adventurers to suit your play-style.

Darkest Dungeon also forged its path on Kickstarter, and I’m already seeing similarities between Red Hook’s foreboding RPG and Overfall. Procedurally-generated maps and class-specific skills can be expected to arise here, as well as permadeath rearing its notorious head through Overfall‘s combat system. When you die, you lose all previous items and progress, but the game’s loose narrative and randomized world guarantees a fresh adventure every time, so each return I made to Overfall found me more often pleasantly surprised, rather than spiraling into incalculable fits of frustration.

Overfall character create

Despite its similarities, however, Overfall is still very much its own beast. Taking place on a hexagonal board, the turn-based combat consists of three separate phases that employ different tactical maneuvers depending on character class. The Fighter leaps heroically between hexes to deal additional clobberings to enemies, while the Cleric can heal and pull enemies towards her. This plays well into Overfall’s strategic elements, opening up a variety of attack patterns and combinations that allow the player to alternate equitably between their two character classes.

You’re permitted to move several hexes during one movement phase, so combat encounters are relatively swift, but since enemies move just as freely, calculating your actions is encouraged and thoroughly recommended. Overfall’s combat beckons with an experienced hand, and whilst its triple-tiered combat system is easy to understand, encounters offer a tough challenge, especially when it comes to facing hordes of frenzied goblins.

Overfall dialogue

Frenzied though they may be, however, they happen to be amongst Overfall‘s most appealing aspects. Your hexagonal antics are captured with a hand-drawn art style reminiscent of Don’t Starve, that adds a quirky, comic quality to Overfall’s rustic world. My encounters with bulk-headed celts, treacherous shark men and curly-tusked Minotaurs were made thoroughly more delightful by their cartoonish depiction, and even served to emphasize Overfall’s occasional daft humour. Against its brassy Gaelic soundtrack, the visuals almost seem laughable, and there’s something inescapably endearing about a squat, bearded Elder uttering the words ‘pew pew’.

The dialogue options also fuel a large part Overfall’s charm. Whilst the majority of quests include the option to bludgeon your foes, there’s quite enough room to evade or sneak during encounters. You can choose to befriend native island folk, or gain their trust and betray them later on. The routes you take will forge different alliances, and you’ll come to learn more about certain races as your raport with them increases. If your reputation is high enough, you can even recruit faction warriors to aid your nautical battles.

Overfall Battle

Combat for all encounters remains the same, but there’s certainly no shortage of wittily-penned exchanges and eccentric mini-quests. My oceanic odyssey has so far found me hunting glue for disabled Lizardmen, mocking ‘gorilla’ warlords and embracing my inner thespian with some theatrical seafarers. Some of the simpler quests can feel mundane, with little contribution to narrative or gameplay, but Overfall‘s distinctive humour and swift progression ensure the boredom doesn’t stay long.

Pera Games offer a promising adventure. Balancing a structured combat system with welcoming humour, there’s a discernible vitality to be beheld in Overfall‘s distinctively sketched realm – and it’s something that instills a reassuring optimism for its post-Early Access voyage.

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Charlie is a platforming romantic from England, that still speaks in a fashion that died with the Elizabethan era. Having been gaming since the days of Crash Bandicoot, he champions the Playstation, and is only a little bit embarassed that Super Mario Land keeps spelling his defeat.

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