The indie scene has become so wide and varied at this point that it’s hard to say anything conclusive about “indie games” as a whole. Except this: indie developers tend to make way better short-term lunch-break type games. Last year’s Runers was a great example of this. More recently, the resurgence of roguelikes has offered a bite-size RPG-flavored snack to gamers who are pressed for time and want a lot of enjoyment without a lot of investment.
Thus, we have Overture, a hybrid roguelike/shoot-’em-up from the creators of SanctuaryRPG that takes this concept to an extreme. Overture casts you as a character of your choice and has you delving through a dungeon. There’s monsters to slay, loot to grab and spells to cast. It’s all going to happen very, very fast. Your eyes are probably going to bleed.
The selection of characters is wide and varied and gives Overture a lot of its staying power. You start with some basic classes like a Wizard and a Ranger, but a relatively small amount of ingame currency can be spent to unlock new characters and upgrade your favorites. Each character has a different basic and special attack; the Trickster, for instance, can slash anywhere on the screen without being physically there and can also deploy poison gas, while the Monk is a close-range combatant that can temporarily become a ranged killing machine. There are over 20 characters available and a lot of the game’s fun comes from finding choices that really appeal to you. You can further customize your character with gear you find during your adventures, though dying, as you’d expect, means you lose everything.
Make no bones about it: Overture is both intense and intensely difficult. You can fully expect to die in a matter of seconds the first few times you play as monsters swarm in and enemy bullets flood the screen while everything moves at warp speed. Even the more well-armored characters are easily crushed if your attention lapses for even a second. Boss characters are huge and highly damaging, and even more powerful regular enemies can feel like insurmountable obstacles. It’s going to take some practice, in other words. Fortunately, that practice is bound to earn you gold for unlocks and upgrades, so there’s a consistent sense of progression.
The only real complaint I’d have about Overture would be the slight random aspect to life or death. Spawning in a bad place at the start of a game or a new floor can easily seal your fate. Still, though, everything is so quick and painless that it never feels like a huge loss. You can just jump back in and try again. The pixel art style and chiptunes make the whole affair seem like a long-lost classic arcade game; this is one of the very few “retro” indie games to actually pull this off instead of seeming like a nostalgia-based cashgrab, so it’s worth a look.
With this and the game’s extremely low price point in mind, it’s easy to recommend Overture. You’re going to die a bunch. You’re going to swear a bunch. But chances are you’re going to enjoy every second of it.