Overfall has been available on Steam Early access for a few weeks now. I had intended to write about it earlier but then The Division review happened. Now that I’m free from shooting cleaners for work and just shaking my head at Massive Entertainment’s post launch decisions, I’ve been able to divert my attention from the AAA scene and pay more attention to the indie titles out there that deserve a mention.
Overfall is the story of two adventurers that pop through a time hole and proceed to find out about a dead king. After your initial discussion with a sage whose family has been waiting on your appearance for generations you’ll hop on a boat and go on a trip. You’ll come upon both islands and ships at sea that trigger encounters. Not all of these lead to combat. Some will have you try and deduce who murdered the local village chief. Others will task you to find help for poisoned elves. These are entirely driven by dialogue and player choice. You can even get half way through and say the heck with it and leave.
Beyond these quests created by Pera one of the developer’s chief goals is to have quests that are created by the community present in the game. I’m not clear on the vetting process to make sure that there is nothing off the wall offensive that sneaks in but ideally other players will be able to encounter ships or islands that trigger quests that were written by members of the community. Since the islands of the world of DYS are procedurally placed, no two playthroughs should be exactly the same and player created quests should blend seamlessly with those created by Pera.
A few things struck me immediately with Overfall. First was that there are a TON of status conditions for your character. I also noticed that while initially you could only choose between two character classes there appear to be a bunch more tucked away behind certain unlocks or achievements. I think this is a clever twist to increase the replay factor. It doesn’t appear that the typical campaign is supposed to be very extensive so a third and fourth play through would be natural.
I also felt abandoned as soon as I took possession of my boat. I understood there was a greater mission to accomplish dealing with a king but I wasn’t sure how to go about it. The UI made it painfully clear that there is a conflict between the races and I could gain reputation with them at the cost of others. They are paired off Dwarves vs. Goblins, Elves vs. Hollows, and Orcs vs. Forsaken - each with their own island type. I also understand that player created content was an important idea to the developers. They even had Chris Avellone of Obsidian fame create a writer’s style guide. But I found it odd that Pera was more concerned with bite sized play sessions than a cohesive narrative which guides you through the world. It’s still in early access though so hopefully this gets brushed up.
The second major feature that jumped out to me is that I do not like the art direction and unfortunately with aesthetics making up so much of the experience I had a hard time getting over it. Whenever I see characters with heads as big as their bodies I just want to turn the other way. This is a clear stylistic choice Pera made and I don’t want to fault them too much for it. Other people could adore it. I just know it’s not for me.
While I didn’t care much for the character art they did do a good job on the environments and animating the character and enemy NPC abilities. The tool-tips on the abilities also do a superb job of spelling out exactly what the abilities do. They leave little room for confusion. This is nice because a character’s turn is broken up into three sections; movement, utility, and weapon. Having to memorize all of this in the early game could get a bit confusing for those new to these type of games. That said anyone familiar to the strategy RPG genre will feel right at home in combat.
If you are the creative type and enjoy making small little adventures for yourself and a burgeoning community Overfall might be worth looking into. It’s currently available on Steam early access for $9.99. If you are looking for a solid strategy RPG with a compelling narrative you may want to wait on this one a bit until it gets a firm release date.