REVIEW: ‘Overwhelm’ (Switch)

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Overwhelm

There is a hive. A dark, foreboding hive of unspeakable terror. In it, you’re surrounded by is red, thicker than blood. There is a haunting silence before you and deep within this red is a hive that must be destroyed. This hive does not simply grow: it evolves. This is Overwhelm, created by one-man developer  Ruari O’ Sullivan, and his studio, RANDOMNINE, is an  E3 indie-darling. Having been unveiled during the PC Gamer press show during E3 2018, the game launched in later that year for PC. Now, the game is available for the Nintendo Switch.

Overwhelm is not the biggest or tallest game, but it’s one of the most fear-inducing shooters that you will play this year. Delightfully upsetting, the first thing players will notice is the arresting visual presentation, in which every measurable shade of red has been painstakingly used to color the game’s illustrations. For gamers familiar with Frank Millers’ Sin City, think of Overwhelm as visually inverted from the art in there, in which the entire world is in red, but the enemies, bosses, and main player character are in white. This creates a constant sense of dread, in which players are venturing into an unknown surreal environment, filled with lifeforms that are engineered to kill you.

The goal of Overwhelm is to defeat and destroy the hive, but this hive is something alien and frightening. Within this hive are several bosses, and the player can choose to venture out to any boss fights, similar to Metroid. However, there is a frightening catch to it all: evolution. Each time a player dispatches a boss, this sends a signal to the hive to evolve, including the bosses. Armed with only a single blaster rifle, this makes your quest into Overwhelm dangerous and deadly, requiring players to utilize their skills and talents to survive.

Fortunately, Overwhelm, despite living up to its name, strikes a very challenging but constant gameplay hook, something that will not turn off the player but something that won’t quite hold their hands either. To start, you only have three lives. They will have to trek across giant labyrinths and sci-fi caverns in order to reach their targets. Each time they die, the screen will distort and screeching music will play, highlighting the desperation of you and your character to complete the mission. However, this all creates a system in which you will constantly be asking to give it “one more try.”

Overwhelm

The more players play, the more engaging the game becomes, with players constantly honing their skills and using their discipline to navigate the red mazes. Smaller enemies dot the hive, and will evolve to become more dangerous. As mentioned before, players can ram, jump, and shoot, but will not have access to anything else, such as shields or bombs.

If players die, they do have to start from the beginning. However, Overwhelm has an assist option making the game accessible for those unfamiliar with the challenge of the game or the game’s nature. Additionally, if players die after defeating bosses, those sections will reveal themselves, opening the player to planning out their method of attack to beating the game. Finally, the entire game can be played with another player in two-player co-op.

Overwhelm is delightfully frightening and engaging, with challenging boss fights and a thrilling atmosphere. It certainly is one of the most visually refreshing games on the market today. Its use of various shades of red and the ominous sense of dread continuously intrigued me and kept me playing all the way to the satisfying conclusion. The use of sound effects and limited music also assists in this atmosphere-building as well. It is worth mentioning how the game’s presentation reminded me of the Nintendo Virtual Boy, a short-lived VR console.

I would have liked Overwhelm to be longer and to throw more challenges my way, but not all games have to be many hours long. The game works tremendously well on the Nintendo Switch, both in docked and handheld mode. Overwhelm creates a simple mission in an arresting environment with gripping combat and challenge.

Overwhelm is an amazing game, that shows when you feel like you are in hell, the best way out of hell is to shoot it in the face and push through, evolution be damned.

Overwhelm
  • 9/10
    Rating - 9/10
9/10

TL; DR

Overwhelm is delightfully frightening and engaging, with challenging boss fights and a thrilling atmosphere. It certainly is one of the most visually refreshing games on the market today. Its use of various shades of red and the ominous sense of dread continuously intrigued me and kept me playing all the way to the satisfying conclusion. The use of sound effects and limited music also assists in this atmosphere-building as well. It is worth mentioning how the game’s presentation reminded me of the Nintendo Virtual Boy, a short-lived VR console.