Overload (2018, PC)

Overload is a sci-fi first person shooter/flight sim that allows you to fly around interior levels without worrying about pesky things like gravity and blow up a bunch of angry flying robots. If this sounds familiar it’s because this was the premise of the classic shooter series Descent, and this game was actually created by many of the same people that created the Descent games (and is not to be confused with the similarly-themed Sublevel Zero or possibly-eventually-to-exist Descent remake/prequel/whatever).

This isn’t one of those spiritual successor type deals either, where things are similar to an old series, but still doing its own thing. No, this is exactly like Descent in every way, even down to the same little cutscene that plays when you beat a level. It’s really just Descent 4…and that is delightful.

The gameplay, weapons, items, enemies, level design, and catchy electro-industrial soundtrack will all bring back wonderful memories of the classic Descent games. The only real differences are the updated graphics and new skill point system. Many familiar old lasers, missiles, and robots await in the horribly twisty tunnels making up each level. The convoluted level design and ability to spin around in such a way that any direction can be up may be a bit intimidating to anyone who hasn’t played one of these games before, but the well-hidden skill points make thorough exploration worthwhile and there’s a convenient holo-guide drone that can lead you to objectives if you’re feeling too lost.

There are a few little flaws due to them sticking so closely to the same formula from the 90’s PC game days though. There’s almost no information given to the player about the controls or various abilities. You have some moves you might not even realize exist for hours because the game never bothers to mention them. Hell, it never even tells you what the basic buttons are, it just assumes that you looked up the key mappings or read the manual (who reads game manuals anymore? [who MAKES game manuals anymore?]). Having played the old games I was already familiar with the basic controls, but I had no idea about the new boost or ram moves.

Other minor issues include the same old ancient map system that really could have used some kind of upgrade to make those super complex later levels a bit easier to read and the fact that you have eight different guns, but only two ammo types, which doesn’t help much in the way of encouraging weapon variety (though you’ll be doing a ton of missile switching at least).

These are pretty minor things in the long run though. Overall Overload is an extremely well done revival of Descent. If you ever played and enjoyed a Descent game and have the itch to go back and play one again, this is what you need. It’s more of the same satisfyingly familiar zero-G space-robo-annihilation, except now it looks fucking amazing. I believe it’s also available on PS4/Xbone too!

One comment on “Overload (2018, PC)

  1. Being a fan of Descent back in the day, this is something I have my eye on. I may pick it up during the summer lull.

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