Aesop once wrote “Adventure is worthwhile.” In the case of Pera Games’ Overfall, however, the adventure isn’t always worth the while. Now Overfall contains two main portions: the main game and the encounter creator. I will be dedicating one part of this review to the main game and the other part to the creator. To start we will talk about the core game itself.
From the opening sequence of the game you are thrown into a story that seems to understand and accept its own nondescript nature. You are told of a journey of two heroes, commanded by a magical king who kept all of the races of the world together, into a strange land where they steal, and I quote, “…an artifact of great power and mysterious origin.” Then they are then chased by a group of monsters called The Vorn.
The game begins with you exiting the realm with the two heroes, a warrior and a cleric. You are met by an old man who tells you it’s been two hundred years and the king who sent you on the mission is missing, oh yeah, and all the races hate each other again. ALSO you should probably go stop that stuff and find the king because the Vorn are already here and messing stuff up. That is the start to your journey and it doesn’t get any clearer from there.
One of the biggest problems that Overfall suffers from is how vague it is. That applies to more than the story as well. Once you start the game you see that each character available has their own dialogue options and have more understandings on certain things than other heroes. For example, in the beginning the cleric can say that the time distortion is clear while the warrior is just wondering what is going on. However, you’re not really told much about each hero other than their job title. Why does the cleric understand time distortion, why is the warrior capable of talking someone out of a life of crime? Nobody knows nothing is really implied or explicitly stated.
This gets worse as it applies to the gameplay as well. Once you’re done with old man exposition you are represented on a randomly generated map full of islands as a boat. From that moment you have no clue where you should be going or why. With the only real information you have at this point being to get the races to like each other, the best thing you can do is run into a races’ ship and ask how to get to their homeland. Which they will respond by telling you they don’t trust you and to earn their trust generally attack the race they don’t like. This of course leads to you floating around looking for that race’s ship and whatever island type they are known to live on, hoping to push a few bars at the corner of your screen telling you your relationship to each race.
Luckily the in game combat isn’t all that bad if a little simple. The combat in game, which you will likely be seeing quite a lot, is similar to most 4x games especially to the likes of Endless Legend. Every character is given three phases in a turn: A movement phase, a skill phase, and an attack phase. This phase system requires you to think about your moves as enemies in the game are unforgiving even at the easiest difficulty; doing whatever they can to beat you. This challenge is appreciated as it makes the rather simple skill system a way to help the player as you don’t need to be min/maxing gear and heroes just to be successful.
When it comes to heroes you have a selection of nine classes. You are given the fighter and the cleric at the beginning of the game and have to unlock the others through meeting them in the world. Each class has their own personality and skills. They each fill a role and if you lack a role during combat you will feel it. However, when it comes to upgrading these heroes’ skills I found it overly simple. To max out a skill I talked to a guy until he dies of his injuries, then found a ship with a trainer who I paid to max out my skill. That was it. No experience points, no milestone to achieve, just pay somebody and you’re good.
This issue of little intrinsic payoff is compounded by an issue diminishing extrinsic rewards. Near the end of the game you will find yourself gaining more for completing quests that aren’t required than those that do. Also since the end game is mostly filled with you spending your money and resources on healing your team you find even less reason to complete combat based quest lines.
Along the way in your journey you’ll get any number of companions who are useful for combat. These companions range from a witch doctor to a wrestler, each of who you usually get by helping them in whatever situation they might be in. One added point of challenge is that if a companion dies they cannot be revived so if you like companions you may want to do your best to take care of them.
Another feature to note of in the game is the fact the world is procedurally generated so no two play-throughs will be alike. Since the world is just a series of islands and boats it’s unlikely you will care to notice that detail. However, with that it should be noted the games art style is one of its strong suits.
The style of art in the game is very original. All characters are cartoonish and feel very fitting for the world. Heroes have this sort of stereotypical look to them; I mean this in the sense that whatever you imagine each class to look like they do. The characters are generally defined by their small bodies and abnormally large heads, this adds to some of the game’s own outlandish humor. Things like fighting sharks that walk on two legs and enemies exploding into giant white poofs are all small details that make the experience a little more entertaining.
The game also makes good work on defining each race with a specific look: Elves are ghastly and almost appear translucent; dwarves have scrunched pug-like faces and are covered in scars and tattoos. These little details certainly help the game and all of their characters feel original and creative.
The art also makes up for the bland sound design. Other than the game’s opening narration there is no voice acting to speak of which is rather disappointing as it would have been nice to hear some characters actually have a voice. Now this can be overlooked as many games have skipped the use of voice acting, especially indie games. But the soundtrack is bland and uninspired; sound effects are boring and hollow. The sound of a sword supposedly cutting through the air sounds more akin to someone blowing on a microphone creating a swooshing noise. The sounds just became so uninteresting I found myself blocking them out subconsciously because I had no wish to hear them.
I am now going to write about the other big part of Overfall, which is its encounter creator. The game allows you, and encourages you, to create your own series of encounters and stories. The creator in the game is simple and straight forward which is actually quite good in this case. It is not hard at all to create a piece and publish it. You are able to make levels as long and as varied as you like. This sort of simple creativity is nice as you’re able to make up for the game’s somewhat flat and uninspired story. However, I will note that the more you add into the branching encounter creator the more it seems to lag, so unless you don’t mind moving at the speed of a VIC-20 computer you’ll probably want to keep your encounters short and sweet.
At the end of the day Overfall is an adventure RPG that has potential that shows throughout the game, but it’s vague and unrewarding gameplay experience make it hard to recommend as a game to buy unless you’re willing to try your hand at a game that is more interesting in theory than in practice.