As gamers we’ve been treated to some downright incredible revival in recent years – Doom (2016), A Hat In Time and Timespinner are all games that have taken a genre and reinvented it for 2018, giving us updated and streamlined gameplay and providing a new spin on genres that had otherwise become fairly stale. Overload from Revival Productions is no different.
Back in 1995, amongst Star Wars: Dark Forces and Super Mario World 2, the Descent series began. A 3D first-person shoot-em-up, Descent¸ was revolutionary for its use of six-degrees-of-motion gameplay which allowed the player free reign to manoeuvre through space while fighting off hordes of virus-infected robots.
Flash forward to 2018, and Revival Productions (formed by founders of Parallax Studios, the studio behind Descent) released Overload – a spiritual successor to the Descent games – following a successful Kickstarter campaign which raised $306,537.
So, how does Overload stack up in 2018? Overload manages to build upon its pre-existing gameplay and presents something new and genuinely enjoyable to play.
In Overload, the player first awakes from cryostasis aboard the MPSV Iberia which is approaching Ymir, one of Saturn’s many moons, after distress beacons were received from a mining colony. The player soon learns that the problem is much bigger than first anticipated: The autonomous robots used on the mining facilities across Saturn have malfunctioned, turning on their operators and destroying entire colonies – it is up to the player to destroy the malfunctioning robots and overload the reactors of each mining facility.
At its core, Overload is a first-person shooter in space – but this does very little to describe just how satisfying that feels. The six-degrees-of-movement gameplay allows the player to fully rotate and manoeuvre through the game’s maze-like levels, it truly feels like Revival Productions has mastered the art of space combat as movement feels insanely fluid and compliments the shoot-em-up nature of this game.
Other than its zero-gravity combat, the best way I can describe Overload is it’s like Tower Of Guns (2014) meets Doom (2016) but in space. You move through each moon colony – which are best described as labyrinths, as they are that big and contain many secrets – destroying waves of enemies, collecting power-ups and destroying reactors, which are the main goal in most of the levels. It’s a simple gameplay loop that manages to keep you engaged due to the varied nature of the combat and the power-ups you can obtain along the way.
Sadly, the one thing that does let Overload down is its lacklustre and repetitive level design. Due to the setting of the game – space age mining colonies – there is very little in terms of level design that can be achieved, but that still doesn’t excuse the lack of variety Overload presents.
Prey (2018) is a game based on a space station, that still manages to give the player a variety of locations and tasks while keeping the level design similar. Overload has you delving through the same looking mining colonies over and over – sometimes breaking up the monotony with the hot magma of the moon’s core, but generally maintaining the same grey and orange colour scheme across the board – which is a shame as otherwise, Overload is a perfect shoot-em-up.
I consider Overload to be a successful attempt a rebooting another old and weary game genre – it manages to reinvent the Descent games for a new audience, providing new challenges and new experiences. Not to mention its incredible implementation of space combat and movement. It’s a game I’d happily play more of, if the design was amped up a little.
*Code kindly provided by the publisher for review*