IntroductionOverfall is equally delightful as it is grueling. You'll often crack a smile at the absurdity of how scenarios play out, while also wanting to face-palm at the difficulty of combat. It was crowdfunded on Kickstarter and is the first completed project by the developer, Pera Games. After an initial early access phase, the game officially launched May 17th. It is currently available on Steam for $14.99.
StoryAlthough Overfall provides the player with little context, it's pretty clear early on that narrative is not the game's focus. Upon emerging from a mysterious portal, your characters are told that they have been sent 300 years into the future and that their king is nowhere to be found. After, you are immediately released on a small ship in the realm of Dys, tasked with earning recognition among the land's six races to assist in the search for the missing king.
To gain reputation, the player has freedom of choice of what islands to explore in a randomly generated open world. The variety of situations encountered span across a wide range. For example, you may choose to form an alliance with the Dwarves and their fight against the goblins or improve community relations by solving a murder mystery at the local pub.
Depending on your allies, the outcome of the game will vary incrementally leading up to the end of your journey. By slowly building up trust and improving relations with a race, a true sense of progression and attachment is made. Unfortunately, without spoiling too much, the conclusion is rather anticlimactic and almost seems detached from the overall experience. However, considering the manner in which it was handled, the game was clearly intended to be played more than once. On a second playthrough, I was met with a much more fitting and satisfying outcome, although still unable to wash out the bad taste left by the first time around.
Overfall has somewhat of a steep learning curve, which may seem overwhelming at times. From the beginning, you're thrown into the deep end without being told how to swim. How do you gain reputation? How should my party be set up? Where do I obtain additional resources? Answers to these questions and additional knowledge aren't explained but instead discovered through experience. The game is roguelike in nature and encourages the player to learn with each attempt. It's likely that players will inevitably meet their demise a few times before actually beating the game. However, with each try, you'll walk away with something new, like a new character class or weapon. Although intimidating at first, it shouldn't take too long before getting your sea legs.
The game allows you to go in any direction with your ship. Simply, choose a strip of land and encounter a random situation. Depending on its features, the islands will be associated or controlled by different factions.
When visiting islands, you'll be met with a battle scenario, dialogue interaction, or both. Fights are turn-based and take place on a hexagonal grid. The grid adds interesting mechanics to the combat by forcing you to consider positioning and movement before taking action. One slight misstep may lead to devastation, thus resulting in a brutal restart back to the portal from whence you came. In some instances, the game feels merciless. Enemies could decide to gang up on a party member barely clinging to life or quest rewards might not yield the resources you most desperately need. Each resource has vital significance - Food lets you replenish health after scuffles; Frags, the game's currency, allow you to purchase items and upgrades; Dust can be used to purchase ability boosts; Runes let you revive fallen party members. These resources can be tough to manage later in the game when opponents like trolls are added to the mix or Vorn ships are chasing you down. The Vorn are a pesky Viking-type race that cannot be sided with and often interfere with your objective.
The game has a total of 36 playable characters, nine of which can be chosen as your two starting members. As you progress through the game, you'll unlock two additional slots for a maximum party size of four. Whittling down your class preferences can be tough since each individual character has a unique and interesting set of skills. Personally, I found the monk's "Quickstep" followed up with a "Six Inch Punch" to be the most strategic and creative. This combo allowed me to teleport to a location, strike with a blow that shoves the enemy a few spaces and then revert back to my prior location. Through unlocks and separate attempts, it's likely that you'll need to experiment in order to find the most suitable composition to fit your needs. Some may opt to choose a class like the Rogue, who can remain hidden and sneak up behind his enemies, while others might prefer the Ranger, who is most effective from a distance.
Worthy of noting is the myriad of status effects or conditions involved with combat. Although some are self-explanatory, others like "Bone Pore, Trauma, and Desperation," appear unnecessary and difficult to remember.
The game's most commendable aspect is its writing. Each island has its own small storyline that conveys a captivating sense of humor, drama or sheer ridiculousness. Interacting with these events occurs through visual novel-like speech bubbles that will affect you and those involved in often unpredictable ways. For example, you may choose to keep the relationship between forbidden lovers a secret or screw them over by blabbing to their families. On different attempts, it's interesting to see the varying outcomes of the same situation. It frequently makes you wonder whether you've made the right decision. Overfall is also a game that's not afraid to have fun. I came across references to things like David Bowie and Game of Thrones cleverly woven in through with the plot or achievements. Coming across small winks like those gives off a vibe that Pera Games was passionate and enjoyed development.
The art direction of Overfall is teeming with personality. Despite, having cartoony disproportional heads, the character models are surprisingly detailed and charming. The mural-like pictures of loading screens are even impressive; its vibrant colors are eye-catching and mesmerizing.
The cut-scenes are also beautiful with their ink and parchment style animation accompanied with stunning voice-over work. It's a shame there are only a few in the game. Battle animations also add to the game's flare with abilities like "Entangle," which forms gigantic vines around an enemy, binding them for a turn.
The soundtrack provides appropriate fantasy themes ranging from epic tracks that will pump you up for a battle to catchy toe-tapping tavern tunes. Don't be surprised if you find yourself bobbing your head along with the beat of certain songs as I found myself doing many times.
The interface is sleek and clean, there is no unnecessary clutter on the screen. However, parts of your ability bar are hidden depending on what phase your turn is in or needs to be hovered over to see. A permanent bar would have been much more pleasing to look at and navigate. Also, not being able to gauge the opponent's movement and attack range seems like an obvious combat and UI oversight.
Pera Games is off to a great start with their first title. It utilizes elements from multiple genres and manages to balance them in order to create a pleasant fun experience. The roguelike aspects and a wide array of options provide high replay value, while the compelling plot lines should keep you entertained for hours. It also deserves praise for being quite easy on the eyes and ears. Despite being marred by vagueness and a weak ending, Overfall is a wise choice to pick up if you're interested in a tough turn-based adventure with some twists.
|+ Fantastic scenarios||- Lack of explanation|
|+ Imaginative abilities||- Disappointing finale|
|+ Great soundtrack|