Overcome Review (PC) :: If Cuphead wasn’t all that happy

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With most of the PC community in arms over Metro Exodus and the rise of Epic Store, many indie developers are completely ignoring the drama and quietly publishing their games on steam. One such game is Overcome, a game about grief and defeating our inner demons without (directly) attacking them.

Overcome is a fast-paced platformer with no explicit combat, developed by the aptly named indie developer Overcome Studios. The game was released on 26 February 2019 on Steam.  Is it any good? Read on to find out.

Story, Gameplay and Mechanics

There is no overarching story as such, and all background is derived from the game’s steam description. The game is a good representation of feeling lost and unable to do anything, for the “demons” are numerous. There’s no difficulty “curve”, and it ramps up within the first minute of launching the game. The soundtrack is a great addition, and keeps you calm as you die a few hundred times (No kidding, there’s even an achievement for dying a hundred times).

When you start a new game, you’re placed in a grim, dark representation of your inner self, and the player character is your heart. In the beginning, the only thing you can do is move around and jump over enemies. Eventually, you unlock the ability to block and deflect incoming fireballs or charging bulls. The core gameplay mechanics are solid, and platforming feels tight and responsive. The game can be played with a keyboard or a controller, the latter of which is recommended for a smoother experience.

Now, on to the negatives. The extreme difficulty may be passed on as a feature, but there are a couple of problems that make it really difficult to play. The character randomly turns to the opposite direction and exposes itself to incoming fire, which can be frustrating as you have to time the deflections to redirect it back to the enemy. This can also lead to you dying, and having to reload from the previous checkpoint. Which brings me to my second point of contention. The checkpoints. The pacing is absurd and the distance between two checkpoints is sometimes plain annoying, because, after one difficult platform section, there’s no space to take a break, as you might die the next instant and have to clear that area again. At least a few more checkpoints would be a welcome addition. But even this can be forgiven to a degree. The major problem that made me give up on the game six hours in, is the outrageous hit detection. Imagine this: you’re gliding down, a laser whizzes past your glider (which is strong enough to deflect enemy fire, by the way), goes through the glider, you think you’ve passed it, and BOOM, you’re dead. The culmination of the checkpoint design and the hit detection makes for a dreary playing experience.

Visuals, Performance and Sound

On launching the game, you’re faced with a simple but elegant menu screen with the game’s pleasing soundtrack playing in the background. The settings menu is pretty barebones, but it has all the necessities, including the ability to rebind the keys, and change the volume of the SFX and music.

Overcome, like most indie games on the market, uses pixel art graphics. However, the art style is unique and totally fits the theme of the game. Did I say the music is pleasing? Well, it is on the menu, but when the same music keeps looping throughout the level, it gets annoying real fast. I had to turn it off after a couple hours of dying and respawning. The music isn’t inherently bad, mind. It’s actually a really good soundtrack, but mixed in with the checkpoint system, it is a major turn-off.

VERDICT

A game can be both nut-crushingly difficult and very enjoyable simultaneously. Dark Souls and Cuphead instantly come to mind. When the difficulty is due to missteps in the game however, it feels like a chore. I don’t recommend playing this if you’re feeling lonely or depressed. Seek help, or play something else. Is the game horrible? No, it has its moments, and the game shines in its concept implementation and platforming. If you like platformers, you should give the game a whirl. With its issues ironed out, however, this game has the potential of being a gem.

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