Hightail across Overland…

I’ve been playing the latest build of Overland, and am already extremely excited for the full version of the game.

As soon as the alpha of Overland released I dived into it, and in my long time spent with it I’ve had a lot of time to think about what kind of game it is. As of yet I haven’t yet come across any games that are like it or comes close to matching its unique vibe. It doesn’t hold your hand or give you much advice, but this works in the best way possible.

In Overland, you will travel from the East Coast to the West Coast  of America in what seems to be an eerily silent and post-apocalyptic world, one that has been ravaged by faceless creatures which burrow underground and emerge to hunt ruthlessly at the first hint of sounds.

Overland may initially sound as though it has some similarities to other games when you say what genres it covers; Roguelike, strategy and turn-based. But this little gem stands out from the rest in its own way and it seems very promising.

There is a small tutorial segment of the game, where you start off with a randomly generated character — you are quickly taught how to pick up weapons and various items, such as fuel, which you need if you want to get into a car and drive off to your next variation. In the tutorial, you will bump into someone else who will accompany you on your journey.

Sounds a bit easy so far, right? Wrong. Not only because the longer you linger in a certain area, the more you hear large rumblings. Creatures will begin to emerge from the earth and start exploring the area as well as listening out for any sounds and rapidly pursuing then attacking anything it can. On top of that, you need to make sure you’re grabbing resources to help keep you alive after you are inevitably attacked. You’ll also need more fuel. More and more fuel. You can’t get anywhere without fuel. Although, you can walk from zone to zone, but then you’re completely out in the open all the time and will have to travel through extremely hazardous, infested zones, which are only worsened once night falls.

Along the way you will sometimes come across other stragglers, who will be happy to join you (as long as you have the space in your car!) and you can even get dogs to come along with you in your journey. (Although, it does bring in a whole new level of emotion if you lose one. Tissues may be required for a possible “I Am Legend” scenario.) But, even though having new companions may have its advantages, that isn’t always the case. Maybe your car gets too damaged and you have to make a mad dash to another that’s within sight on the map, but unfortunately, the faceless creatures catch whoever is at the back of your pack… sometimes, sacrifices are the better option in order to keep soldiering onward to the West Coast.

This isn’t to say that all your American road-trip adventure is about escaping wherever you are as soon as you can. Occasionally, you will find yourself coming across another band of travellers and then you have some options; you could trade something you have for some tools to help fix up your ride, buy some food or a med-kit — if you’re lucky you might be able to purchase a more efficient weapon for when you get into a tough spot. Or… you can take it all, by force, if you’re up to a fight. Overland is packed with tough choices and will constantly force you to make hard decisions. Make sure you look after those doggos you let into your car earlier.

I love the vibe that Overland gives off. There isn’t a lot of music, but what music there is during levels is very atmospheric and helps give it an eerie feeling that sets the tone for the entire game. The graphics aren’t pop-popping, but I think they’re appealing and appropriate. They are simple and very effective graphically, as they should be. In the many attempts I’ve had after starting over repeatedly, I have not once come across any characters with the same appearance. In fact, none were even remotely like one another, which helped to make each run feel unique and a bit more personal than perhaps the last.

The layouts for each of the areas you visit aren’t sprawling landmasses, but rather small and fit into a square that doesn’t even take up the whole screen. While this may seem like an odd choice, and may feel a bit restricting, I feel it adds more pressure. Instead of having time to wander and find resources, time is of the essence. Get to where you need to go. Find resources or people, haul out to the next location and pray you are not heavily pursued. As the enemies get bigger and more intimidating along the way, you are not going to want to hang around.

I cannot wait for Overland to come out on Steam. Whilst I have only played the game in its Alpha stage, I very much like what I am seeing. Overland is harsh, unforgiving, tactical and to some degree, emotional. You will fail repeatedly, but sometimes you may get lucky. You’ll get further across America and discover more people, creatures and so much more. I haven’t made it to the West Coast yet, but I will in due time.

Overland will be releasing later this fall for PC, Mac, Xbox One, PS4 and Nintendo Switch. It is currently available in a closed-access capacity on itch.io.

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