Rogue-lites have hit it big in recent years. Many players believe that the sense of excitement offered by the possibility of losing everything you’ve worked for add a lot to a game, and generally I’m inclined to agree. While “roguelike elements” has gradually turned into a buzzphase to try and move indie games, sometime those elements are surprisingly well-implemented.
Overfall, an Early Access title from Pera Games, uses these to add a significant amount of replayability and stand out from the crowd.
Overfall casts you as a pair of heroes who’ve successfully completed their mission to nab the magical Disk of Ages. Hooray! The problem is that the act of nabbing the disk actually took hundreds of years, so the Everking who asked your valiant heroes to do this is long gone. The world has kind of gone to Hell since you were gone with the appearance of the Viking-like Vorn. Your goal is to stop the Vorn by seeking out the Everking.
You can create your pair of heroes to your liking..though at first, you’ve only got two basic classes to choose from, so it’s not going to be a very difficult decision. When that’s done, you’re given a boat and told to get to work. This plays out a bit like the indie classic FTL; you’re fighting the clock as you explore the various islands scattered throughout the world. This will lead to quests, battles and companions to add to your party.
Sailing to an island typically presents you with a scenario to deal with. Your characters can approach any given scenario in a number of ways, again much like FTL; you don’t necessarily have to battle your way through every confrontation to succeed. Sometimes a gentle hand will win out over brute force. The characters in your party play a large part in what options you’re given during a quest, which means there’s lots of replay value.
That’s all well and good, of course, but brute force remains an option regardless. Sometimes all the talking in the world won’t save you from having to fight. Overfall uses a turn-based combat system with a hex tile grid that can get complex pretty quickly. There’s a very strong focus on status effects, which adds a unique feel to the game but can make the proceedings pretty confusing. Managing your buffs and debuffs is a big deal and it’s not long before everyone on the battlefield is covered with little status icons.
It’s a fairly deep system that can take awhile to reveal its intricacies. Even if you die, there’s a good chance that during your adventure you’ll unlock new options to using character creation, which is certainly an encouraging reason to try again.
Overfall’s art style is fairly distinctive. Characters have a sort of hand-drawn-puppet sort of look, reminiscent of some RPGs running on Flash. It doesn’t look bad, per se, but this isn’t a graphical tour-de-force and you shouldn’t come in expecting that. Likewise, sound is fairly standard and isn’t going to blow your mind. You’re here for the gameplay and that’s solid enough to keep your interest.
Overfall is currently in Early Access, aiming for full release in “a few months.” If you’re cool with this scenario and, as we’ve come to expect with these non-standard release patterns in this digital age, then Overfall is absolutely worth a look. The sheer amount of replayability here makes the game a unique experience amongst this rogue-lite craze. Oh, and it’s got writing from Planescape: Torment’s Chris Avellone, so that’s pretty cool too.