Game review: Overland, PC, 7/10
Overland is a charming and difficult to define game of unknowable genre. Is it a roguelike? Or a horror game? An isometric roadtrip simulator?
While the answer surely rests somewhere in the middle of these descriptions, Overland undoubtably rests somewhere in the the upper echelons of unique indie games that are saturating the market.
Overland is certainly a great game, but what makes it refreshing is just how unforgiving and sometimes downright unfair it can be. You start out on the east coast of the USA, with very little preamble before you are tossed into an apocalyptic world populated almost entirely with lovecraftian abominations armed with nothing more than a vehicle and a random companion (this companion is sometimes a dog). What separates Overland from the rest is the game's unwav
ering focus on the sheer strength of your opposition. Killing enemies rewards you not with a pat on the back, but with a kick up the rear, as every foe felled is generally rewarded with two more popping up to take its place. Thus, Overland seems to be about avoiding combat. With no stealth to speak of, every map is a mad dash to refuel, resupply and then make your escape before you are totally overcome by the enemy.
Overland is the archetypal "not for everybody" game. For those who enjoy a fleshed-out narrative with bucketloads of exposition, then Overland will probably have a difficult time meeting expectations. All interactions between you and your randomized party members tend to be simply recounting things that happened on the last map.
Backstories are generally confined to a single sentence. Surprisingly, you can actually pat the dog should you be lucky enough to receive it as a companion.
Funnily enough, Overland's stripped-back and minimalistic approach to both its visuals and story make for a game that produces great story in your own head. It's easy to impress your own artistry on a blank canvas and Overland's overwhelmingly abnormal and creepy atmosphere is a source of never-ending inspiration.
Perhaps many will see Overland as an unfinished game, or a game that the developers tired of working on before they got to the narrative stage of development. That may be true, but Overland is also a nod to the hideously unfair and barebones games of the past, where imagination reigned.