- October 14, 2018 at 6:59 pm #18876
I am not sure how this post will be received. I don’t know if the devs can even care about how their art is responded to now since they are probably busy on wondering about new projects.
But I finally got to playing the full campaign and I wanted to give my feedback. SPOILER WARNING: DO NOT READ THIS POST IF YOU WISH TO AVOID SPOILERS.
I can probably most compare my experience to playing Descent 2, since that game set the bar for me for FPS rogue-like sci-fi maze games. I was surprised that Overload felt small and contained like “Descent” but with much fresher technology. My overall impression was that the game was compact but amazing. There was a lot of focus on visual style (as modern games demand) but a healthy pull towards arcade feeling instead of overly effects laden.
5 out of 5 stars for this reimagining.
VOICES and STORY
My impression is that there is no reason to revisit the storyline of Overload since it was resolved, although the tension of where it would go was also up in the air near the end. We could have learned more about [Lt.] Alex or Gabriel and their relationship would not have to be tied in a neat bow. A safe decision to give us a main character, though it was also at that part of the story where I had doubts whether the Earth AI could be a reliable source for the player’s identity.
I was excited when a character named Harper appeared, since I thought it may have been a reference (and then a nod) to D3’s Kaytlin Harper, one of the few “good guys” from the original Descent series. I guess it wasn’t, but it was still a neat moment, considering any degrees removed from a certain evil megacompany.
The acting was top notch and the integration of the saved hostages in the story was a comfort – bringing us back to Earth in a warm way. Nicely done. It makes me wonder about an ending in which no hostages have been saved. Is that why no hostages appear in the + version of the campaign? Are we meant to find out at the end?
The cut scenes were nostalgic and evocative. Given the incredible visual anticipation of the glowing moon, I wished the big bang were a bit more like the quality of D2’s or D3’s ending. Seems someone should have been a bit more thankful at the end given Earth itself might have been saved a little longer from the alien singularity but hey – maybe that’s a private victory.
A bug I enjoyed was blasting enemies through locked doors. They would sometimes clip through the door a bit, showing me their location (and the location of a secret door) and then I would kill them with missile splash damage.
There were a few moments in the final level where the audio was uninterrupted but everything visual in the game froze for several seconds. I could not tell if it was audio related or not but I took a picture when it happened. It seemed it was calculating something but since this only occurred rarely in the rest of the game, and it never caused enemies to gain an advantage (I guess everything froze, not just me) it may be that something about the relatively small and simple final level needs some optimization.
The entire game felt visually as though it were not as imaginative as the Descent series. The auto-ops were recognizable and served their design function perfectly, but felt a little more cold and less like encounters with the strange private parties of evil cartoon character robots. I guess somehow the auto-ops lack personality and there were only two or three level “styles”. The Kodachi is mostly functional looking rather than having any unnecessary but exciting Star Trek flair. Yet, despite the heavy design focus on logical consistency and logical storytelling, it was a great deal of fun. The physics and the way the auto-ops explode and the way each weapon “feels out” the dramatic space of the “combat story” was entirely enjoyable.
The GUI was nice to have; I always left the cockpit up. The lighting was extremely useful and I highly enjoyed the use of shadows, highlights and so on to create a wonderful blend of “arcade” style gameplay and a modicum of useful simulated realism.
The music is perfect in every way. I can’t think of a way to improve on the auto-op noises or the level ambiance. I wish I could articulate more positive words for this. It was just so atmospheric, just what you wanted to feel and hear, while hunting, battling or searching. Obviously excellent work from everyone involved in sound all around. So incredible given the short development period.
The sounds were mostly excellent, given the “arcade” nature of the game. Something about looking at and picking up a key still feels unfinished and quite different from the rest of the game. I can’t really think of any way to improve on the sounds but the key sounded more like a pinball machine instead of a dramatic security gain. I never got used to that for some reason.
Never had to use the hologuide, not even to learn the level. I liked how many secrets were not too difficult to find so that you could choose to spend some time searching out spaces or leaving them be. The puzzles were so fun and enjoyable. The game never felt like a slog and if there were challenges it only expanded on my own abilities to think and reason spatially. Unlike in the original Descent, I found the auto-map useful for actually scanning and strategizing where to go next to “attack” the problems of the level. I spammed the save function and enjoyed giving some things a few tries before accepting the level of damage I received. By the penultimate level (with the sovereign) I was learning to use the portals to snipe and retreat, break up areas of auto-ops and lure them with flares where I wanted.
This reminds me of another very nice transition. The way the aliens were introduced was a nice “ramping up” of the difficulty at the right time. I have a blister on my trigger finger from the use of the first iteration of the lancer. I never enjoyed any of the weapon switching functions during combat except maybe the keyboard numbers. However, “cycle up” (without a “cycle down”) for both primary and secondary was useful for pausing and strategizing how I would run into an area with a time bomb, then switch to upgraded falcons for example.
It was a great dynamic to try to work out how I was going to use each tool. I enjoyed the crusher and flak cannons only somewhat and in particular situations. Otherwise, my most used ammo weapon was the driller.
I liked the ramping-up spreadfire concept and the ways that weapon could be modified.
The vortex missiles were a fun surprise but not as useful as I liked. I found myself just using them up as much as possible to hold alien AIs in place so that I could preserve the good stuff for heavy enemy areas.
Time bombs became extremely useful to me in the alien levels. I did not use novas as much as I used smart missiles from the Descent series. They were beautiful but somehow there were plenty of tools/weapons that I preferred to reach around corners. Ducking in with homing or the reflex seemed more useful for how rare the novas were. If the upgrades of the nova were less expensive, I would look at those.
I liked learning the different stunning capacities of each tool. I enjoyed the basic lasers (and upgraded ones) quite a lot. Thunderbolt was a lot more fun to use than Descent’s fusion. Not sure why that is.
I love how seamlessly the game feels “multiplayer” just by making clever and difficult enemies near the end of the game, which will sort of prepare you for the basic moves and firepower of a human-controlled Kodachi. I found myself itching to jump in a multiplayer game right away just as a means of interacting with other players. I joined anarchy and got some learnin’ to do but it was a lot of fun. The differently outfitted ships were not immediately intuitive to me but that doesn’t seem very important since you could kind of test each ship for yourself and see what plays best for you.
I hope a good amount of sales and player participation comes to Revival in this difficult glutted market. The level of craftspersonship on the game is just incredible given the price, but it comes from your obvious talent and well earned experience in the industry.
Once more, an excellent fantastic game. A spooky and more lonely version of Descent with satisfying graphics decisions, a story you can “slip on” or “slip off” easily, with some haunting storytelling elements and one of the very best multimedia sound experiences to accompany it. Feels completely replayable due to the familiarity one gains with the weapons and tools and their flexibility. (When I have time to pick it up again I would like to try the + campaign).
Huge thank you for making the game work on Linux.December 18, 2018 at 12:25 pm #19028
I purchased and played the expansion. So cool to see Swingarm’s and Splotchie’s levels in there, and the addition of the fearful crew suggesting whatever was down there would “eat them alive” is hilarious but actually kind of believable for miners stalked by a robot that never gets caught.
I’ve always admired Swingarm’s level designs but never had a chance to play them and it was so awesome to experience them in Overload. I was very impressed with Splotchie’s artistry as usual.
All the levels by all the designers were excellent and it was a ton of fun to see a level progression integrated in a slightly different way. Well done all!
I think I understood that the ending was meant to imply the pilot goes to Ymir to meet its fate? Or is it part of the crew that ends up helping out Alex at the end of the Cronos Frontier?December 18, 2018 at 12:27 pm #19029
I also wanted to add that I have been playing through the plus campaign of Cronos Frontier and noticed after updating Overload to the latest patch the bladesaw robot that clipped through the “surprise” door at the end of the hallway (sorry don’t remember which mission) was no longer present, but I have yet to check if it was removed in the original or just the plus version. It’s kinda funny to just have an empty door there now. I wonder if it eventually pushed through the door in a supernatural way and escaped. hahaDecember 18, 2018 at 9:35 pm #19032
JosheMKickstarter BackerTopics: 7
Glad you liked the DLC. I, too, very much enjoyed the community levels (though I did not contribute for that project)!
Keep an eye out for another DLC to hit end of Q1 next year, as a second level contest is going on to take entries for even more SP and CM content! Several of us (me included) are submitting entire multi-level campaigns, so you’ll have lots of fresh bot-busting at your hands soon enough!
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