Sometimes an adventure’s conclusion is where the adventure itself truly begins
Video games set in the fantasy genre will always be popular, although it’s a bit difficult to say why at this point. It seems as though, despite the fact that everything has pretty much already been done in terms of realms containing Elves, Dwarves, and other, varying, types of Kin, gamers (including myself) never have much of a problem jumping into fantasy over and over. The Early Access build of the rogue-like PC adventure Overfall was my latest fantasy foray, and as I began my excursion I crossed my fingers in the hopes that the fantasy genre would once again not fail to entertain.
Overfall begins with the end of a war… followed by the end of a seemingly important quest. It appears as though Orcs ruled the lands for many years, and had just recently been beaten out by humans in the battle for supremacy (and hopefully peace). A deity known as the Everking oversaw this battle and, once the bloodshed had ended, helped to unite all of the races through this new human-won victory (although I’m not sure how or why the Orcs were okay with that seeing as how they were just overthrown). Shortly after attempting to unify the tribes in peace, the Everking foresaw an impending challenge that, if not met head-on, could spell out potential doom for everyone. Not wasting any time, the Everking summoned two heroes to him and sent them into a hostile alien world inhabited by a bloodthirsty race known as the Vorn. The heroes traveled for many days, fending off numerous attacks, until they finally reached what they were looking for; a mysterious artifact known as the Disc of Ages. Though they knew not what it was for nor what it could do, the heroes made off with the Disc of Ages, and successfully escaped back into the portal from which they originally arrived; back into their world. Unfortunately, something was quite wrong; though the heroes had only been gone for what seemed like days, many years had passed in their own homeworld. Nothing was the same and, on top of that, the Everking was missing. Left with only a mysterious message about uniting all of the tribes as one and the Disc of Ages itself, the two heroes set off in search of answers and of the missing Everking himself.
Overfall takes place as a highly randomized, rogue-like adventure game that puts you in control of the two heroes chosen by the Everking, and beginning right after their return from the Vorn’s homeland. The characters can be customized quite a bit, but unfortunately that has to be earned. At the game’s beginning, players are forced to use the Fighter and Cleric. Weapons, skills, and trinkets (equipment that are in charge of giving characters perks such as healing after dealing damage, etc) are also customizable but once again must be earned. It’s a bit of a proverbial punch in the gut, considering the “in-depth customization” is supposed to be a draw, but literally none of that is given to you right off the bat. Hints are given as to how to unlock everything and everyone, but the game is so random that you just seem to unlock things when the game feels like it which is honestly a shame because the unlocking process itself feels quite rewarding.
After the initial cutscene, your party of two takes off on a boat (of which you are given full control) and the player is completely let loose to explore the islands of the world around you. While the information you receive is a bit ambiguous, it appears as though it is up to you to gain the favor of every race within the game (excluding humans, as your characters are human themselves). Every island has a certain “type”, and it is the island type that will determine both what randomly generated events may occur as well as what races you may find on the island. While most races are confined to a certain type of island (Barrens Islands being inhabited by Orcs, Arctic Islands being inhabited by Forsaken, etc), there is always a chance that humans may instead be the island inhabitants.
For the most part, the events on every island are randomized, unless they contain facilities such as Inns or Bazaars, or are marked for certain quests given to players. Seeing as how there really is no telling what you will get when you visit the islands, your best bet is to set about methodically exploring each island one-by-one. Exploration generally will net you situations that have the potential to end in the acquisition of food, which is essential for healing, frags, the game’s form of currency, Dust, an illegal drug that can be used to upgrade skills or temporarily increase your ship’s maneuverability, or Runes, relics that can be used to bring dead companions back to life, buy protection from death, and more. Alternatively, events can also lead to gaining fame (or infamy, if you’re not careful), with the other races. Gaining favor from the other races leads, ultimately, toward your goal so it should be considered one of the most important things. There are a few things that can be unlocked should certain races dislike you however, so keep in mind that infamy is not always bad… just almost always bad.
It is also important to keep in mind that it is not just the events that occur within the game themselves that are of importance, but also how you deal with them. Your attitude toward others and, in some cases, even the characters in your party are a major contribution in terms of how things play out. Being nice to someone could mean the difference between gaining free food and fame and brutally being attacked by an angry mob. Another thing to keep in mind is that, while being nice is generally the way to go, helping every wayward soul may not always be the right thing to do. Trying too hard to play the role of the white knight within these lands may do nothing but leave you with no food, no frags, and no hope of surviving the next skirmish. Rather, it is better to play with a more realistic approach; help those in need when you can, but keep in mind that the world is doomed should anything happen to you and your companion. Sometimes there are sacrifices that must be made. While saying no to someone in need due to concern about yourself, or possibly just due to inability to help, can be a bit disheartening, it certainly makes for good role-playing and prevents things from getting too easy.
As previously hinted at, you’re going to get into a few fights. Maybe you said something you said the wrong thing. Maybe a Vorn ship caught up to you. Maybe you just look too ugly for someone to handle for long periods of time. Whatever the reason, sometimes you’ll sometimes have to let your blade (or wand, or hammer, or whatever) do the talking because words are no longer sufficient. While battles aren’t the primary focus of the game, they do occur quite frequently, and it is very important that you pay close attention to them. Unlike a lot of the mainstream RPGs out there, death is a big deal. In fact, any sort of damage is a big deal because healing can be quite a vexing task if you don’t make sure that you’re well-stocked on food. Also, it’s really hard to ever consider yourself “well-stocked” in terms of food -or any kind of supplies- for that matter.
Battles take place on small grid, and are turn-based in nature with each turn being comprised of “Movement”, “Utility”, and “Attack” phases, with the aforementioned phases always proceeding in that specified order. During movement, players may either walk to, or use a special skill in order to move to a specified hex. The movement skills vary based on what character class the player is using, and may only be used every so many turns. The Utility phase is an opportunity for players use moves that either buff allies or debuff enemies. Lastly, the Attack phase is where players may directly attack their opponents. Rather than having a standard “attack”, players use one of three attacking skills that are based upon the weapon that they currently have equipped. Many attacks will strengthen based on ailments inflicted upon enemies, so it is important to keep tabs on everyone’s status throughout the battles. While it may sound complicated, battles are actually rather simple and straightforward. It is easy to keep track of current standings with both enemies and allies alike, and the game will give a description of any status buff or debuff that a character currently has just by hovering over that affliction’s symbol. With that being said, the sheer number of buffs and debuffs that can happen within a single turn can become rather overwhelming. Having a character go from perfectly fine one turn to having eight completely separate status ailments in the next turn is something that takes quite a bit of getting used to. Fortunately, players are subjected to pretty much every status-changer out there right from the get-go so it isn’t too hard to pick up on things.
The game’s graphical and auditory assets are nice overall, although I must say that having characters drawn in a pseudo-chibi style within a game that takes itself seriously most of the time (minus its occasional share of eye-rolling and groan-inducing memes) is a rather curious choice. Still, it does its job of making the game stand out a bit graphically without going over-the-top in any way. The assets are all very well-done, and even standard NPCs never grow too stale, as they are constantly swapping color pallets, physical features, etc, in a way that makes players feel as though every character is important no matter how small.
The game’s soundtrack fits the game itself quite nicely, although it does fall a bit short in terms of actual track numbers. Regardless, the tracks themselves are quite pleasant and never seem to grow dull.
While still in its Early Access stage, Overfall is certainly an adventure that I would recommend looking diving into. Despite certian shortcomings such as its tendency to be a bit too random when it comes to unlocking features within the game, the exploration -the main focus of the adventure- is quite solid and is enough to make players triumphantly return from each defeat more determined to bring about peace than ever. If you’re ever in the market for a rogue-like RPG and have a lot of time to kill, give Overfall a try; you won’t be sorry.
Final Verdict: 3.5/5
Available on: PC (Reviewed) ; Publisher: Pera Games ; Developer: Pera Games ; Players: 1; Released: March 1, 2016 (Early Access); Genre: RPG ; MSRP: $9.99
Full disclosure: This review was written based on review code supplied by the game’s publisher, Pera Games.