REVIEW: Overdriven

Shooters of any vein have typically been my bread & butter, so in watching the Dream.Build.Play trailer for Overdriven (80 MSP), I couldn’t help but take notice. It looked fantastic, for one, and all the not-too-picky elements I look for were present; one ship shooting a bunch of other ships in different and interesting ways. See, easy to please.

Overdriven takes on the vertical shmup across seven levels, using the shooter-standard ‘unknown alien invasion’ premise, ‘last human hope’ etc. etc for a setup. Sine Mora it is not. What Overdriven (the ship / pilot, not the title) does get is a pair of lovely ladies whispering sweet nothings into his / its ear, and by that I mean pertinent information about the current stage and twenty variations of ‘watch out!’.

The game’s big sell and namesake mechanic is a beam shot that slows your ship’s movement but makes for a stronger, concentrated fire. Health is also sacrificed while ‘overdriven’, dropping your ship to within an inch of its life. It creates a tense trade-off once the screen gets lively and comes in handy for the bigger baddies and end-level bosses.

In a twist, stages aren’t unlocked simply by beating the previous. Beyond the first three, you’ll have to find a set amount of ‘alien artifacts’ scattered around town or dropped by enemies (5 per stage) to earn the right to advance. I found (more like stumbled onto, all dumb luck-like) the majority the first time through, though there are some cleverly-hidden ones. For collectors, there’s plenty of said artifacts and oddities (hidden cows?) to find, set to excellent music throughout. Also seven level-specific challenges that play out like self-contained mingames, with Awardments to pin to your digital chest for bragging afterwards, do well to invite extra playtime after clearing the story.

Minor quirks abound. The game suffers from the same ‘bullet recognition’ problems as other shooters, with enemy fire hidden in your own leading to some cheap hits. The bosses don’t vary much (except in name) from stage to stage, and bits of the art recycle. In fact, Overdriven‘s only serious problem is its art, pretty as it is. Especially in darker stages and during a firefight, it becomes almost impossible to tell your foreground from background, leading to health-sucking grinds along barriers and / or deaths. Repeated runs through the level will commit these segments to memory, but it’s a mentionable annoyance that could be an issue for players on higher difficulties.

Otherwise, it’s reliable. The controls feel solid, shot patterns are tough but navigable, and it forgives almost as much as it forgets. Overdriven slips comfortably into its Bullet Hell suit, and posits a good challenge for both ends of the shooter skill set. It doesn’t do anything extraordinary with its shmup license, but it’s fast, fun, and assembled the right way. Competence is a compliment here.

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7 thoughts on “REVIEW: Overdriven”

    1. I couldn’t tell you specific locations, but a lot of them are dropped by out-of-the-way enemies (big and small) or hidden in environmental hazards, like minefields or by those different-colored block-matching ‘puzzles’ (hope that’s not confusing…). Best advice, save up a bomb, and just launch it once you find a spot with a lot of stationary or well-obscured enemies.

    2. Thanks, I found most of them in the end. Not a long game but I had fun with it. It felt a bit nostalgic, in a pleasant way. Which is weird, since I didn’t play many shooters back in the day. I was more a platform/RPG gent.

      One day I need to get round to Sine Mora.

  1. You beat me to reviewing this. It actually sounds better than I thought it was (and I already thought it was decent). I should put some more time into it once I’ve finally got Aqualibrium out of the way.

    1. Glad you got that from the review, whew. I really liked it, but no matter how I worded this one, I couldn’t make it sound exciting. I mean, it’s all stuff that’s been done before, but it’s solid and good-looking. $3 well spent.

      Still wish Aqualibrium had ditched those cannons mid-development. I love the game despite them, but it’s unfortunate. Need to get back to it and finish off the last few levels.

    2. Yes, Antipole’s turrets have been gradually eroding my initially very positive opinion of it.

      I’ve increasingly been using XBLIG for shooters. I never got that much into 2D shooters the first time round, so it’s a voyage of discovery for me.

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