Overload – Review

Overload

Space knows no boundaries. It knows no government or order. For humans, space is a frontier to which to rule and to conquer, reaping its riches and plundering its resources through immensely powerful mining corporations. In space, greed can be deadly. When a multitude of mining facilities go offline in the depths of space, a distress signal is sent out. 

A lone starship emerges from the black gulfs of space. A mercenary has been called to investigate and respond. Unknown signatures are emerging from his facilities, and the only way to find out what happened is to shoot first and ask questions later. This is Overload, a first-person spaceship combat adventure and exploration game from a legendary group of video game makers. Inspired by titles from 1995, Overload is a classic title that proves that some classics don’t die or get old. They just reload.

In 1995, a special video game was launched for the then brand new PlayStation console. This game was known as Descent, a first-person shooter with a very different take on the genre. Players piloted a small combat space interceptor and infiltrated the labyrinthian network of bases.

In the original game, the bases were scattered across the solar system ranging from asteroids to planetary surfaces filled with erupting volcanoes. The objective was to fight waves of dangerous combat robots and destroy the base by destroying the core. Each level was fraught with danger, with players having to navigate an unpredictable base, where enemies could appear at any moment. 

Additionally, players had to conserve ammunition, energy, and their health. Finally, players had to learn their escape paths. When the core is blown apart the base is sent into self-destructive, leaving players to fight for their lives to find an exit. The original game was a fantastic experience for me growing up. Being nine years old at the time, I could never beat the game, but playing the first few levels was incredible, between the gameplay and roaring alternative rock soundtrack.

Overload accomplishes this same feeling and much more, becoming its own interesting experience that feels incredibly nostalgic but immensely refreshing. In an age of Battle Royale shooter, online only wold, and microtransactions, Overload is a game that reminds players of a time when video games could become video games. 

Overload puts players in a small gunship investigating mining colonies that have gone offline. Like descent, players will be navigating mining bases that act as puzzling gauntlets of rock and metal. Each base is filled with waves of dangerous mining robots, re-tooled and repurposes for combat. With the exception of the first mission, the goal is to navigate the base, defeat enemies, and survive to destroy the base core and evacuate.

Structurally, Overload is similar to Decent, which makes sense as the developers of Overload made Decent. Players will navigate every possible corner and crack to locate weapons powers ups, search for survivors, and obtain upgrade points. Where Overload feels immeasurably refreshing is in its gameplay execution. 

The original Decent, and now Overload, greatly embraced the gameplay mechanic known as 6DOF, known fully as the Six Degrees of Freedom. Players can move up, down, left, right and diagonally to the four corners. Very few games have this functionality and it works extraordinarily well with Overload’s navigation and combat.  Combat in Overload is fast, fierce, and silky smooth. 

Enemies will aggressively pursue and confront the player, and not all enemies are the same. From lightweight scout bots to heavily armed weapon platforms, the machines in Overload are cold and emotionless, unafraid to give players a really bad day. To fight back, players have a wildly fun assortment of weapons, ranging from flak cannons to swarm missiles and heavy laser cannons. Fortunately, players can choose from these weapons when attained, provided they have collected ammo for that particular weapon.

Each enemy encounter is euphoric, as every gunfight is a matter of life and death. How fast you move, how quickly you dispatch your enemies, and what weapons you use ultimately determines players live or die. It is a high-stakes, white-knuckle combat scenario unlike anything else. If the challenge is too difficult, players can change difficulties and even save points mid-mission. There are no checkpoints or auto-saves during missions, so players should manually save during missions, especially before big encounters. 

Outside of the main campaign, there are several modes, including challenge missions and online multiplayer that crossplays between PlayStation 4 and PC audiences. The fun of Overload is going back and discovering the various hidden secrets scattered across the stages, as well as engaging the enemy on higher difficulty settings. This gives Overload a truly classic feel to the classic first-person shooter of the 1990s. 

The gameplay and style of Overload are compounded sharp visuals, high framerate, and a wonderful soundtrack. While the visuals can become a bit repetitive, with the game taking place within asteroids and underground facilities, the enemy designs and layouts are fascinating. The soundtrack composed by Dan Entz and Allister Brimble evokes a heavy industrial percussion with digital sounds and guitar. Their collaboration makes for a fantastic soundtrack that evokes the original game Overload is based on.

Overload is a sharp, refreshing, action-packed, and fantastic game. Its gameplay is still among the very best in game’s today and it’s presentation embraces a long-lost mechanic in video games. Playing Overload truly feels like freedom in a sense, as it breaks from the traditional views often seen today and embraces something special. The presentation of Overload is fantastic and the ever minor detail is evident, displaying the care that Revival Productions placed in this game. Overload is an incredible exploration and shooting experience that shouldn’t be missed by anyone.