Review: Overture

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I don’t know about you, but I don’t need my games to be super complicated. I mean, my favorite games are ones with plenty of depth and discovery to them but I’m also okay with a very simple loop if it’s fun enough. Overture kinda toed the line with me for the first few minutes, and I thought I was ready to put it down after a few runs. And then, an hour and a dozen runs later, I realized it had more of a grip on me than I expected.

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Overture is a 2D arena twin-stick shooter based around traditional fantasy classes and monsters duking it out. There’s no story whatsoever here, you pick a class and you go kill things. Every floor is a big open square full of randomly-generated terrain, items, and monsters for you to traverse, collect, and murder respectively. Once you find and defeat a giant slime miniboss you are ushered to a boss arena, and if you are victorious you move on to the next floor to repeat your rampage.

The first thing you need to know about Overture is that it goes fast. Your character can cross the screen in an instant, your weapons are rapid-fire like machine guns, and enemies will swarm you with only a moment’s notice. Barrels explode their contents over the entire screen in great chaotic flashes and the blood and corpses pile up until you can no longer recall what the floor looked like. While it has light RPG and roguelike elements this feels most like a bullet hell game, with you weaving in and out of enemy hordes as you eviscerate, perforate, or incinerate everything in sight.

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You’ll need to be pretty on point with your reflexes to keep from getting overwhelmed, because the many denizens of whatever this place is are relentless. Spiders, trolls, skeletons, necromancers, knights, and more fill the levels, and once you wake them up they will hunt you until you are dead. There’s a huge variance in how fast they are and how they attack, with spiders being just as fast as you and melee-focused, while cyclopses are incredibly slow but hurl flurries of difficult to dodge projectiles. It’s important not to get trapped and move intelligently, because you move faster in the direction you’re firing so backpedaling or circle-strafing is not going to save you here.

Killing monsters earns you experience towards leveling up, making your basic attack and your special attack more potent and you a little sturdier. The equipment you find also helps with this, split into five slots and conveniently swapped with one button when the simple comparison prompt appears. Items pop out of bosses or racks or chests, and there are even NPC minions you can free from crates to battle for you. You’ll also pick up health and mana vials to replenish your bars, and gold to unlock more of the game’s two dozen classes.

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This is where the game actually hooked me, because of the impressive variety to the classes. Each of the four archetypes (warrior, thief, mage, shaman) have half a dozen specific classes within them, like barbarians and templar for the warriors and rangers and bandits for the thieves. Everything about these classes, from their attacks to their speed to their stats, is wildly different. Whether it be the constant piercing attacks of the peltast or the endless deluge of poison bubbles from the witch, every time you start the game with a new character you’ll be treated to an entirely new experience.

I haven’t even finished unlocking all the classes, but I got hooked on trying out each one and pushing further and further with the ones I liked. The allure of new gameplay helped me overlook the small frustrations of getting mobbed or trapped by particularly difficult attack patterns. Overture is a tough game, though ultimately fair because if you find yourself taking too much damage or not doing enough, you can keep killing easier monsters and hunting loot until you feel more up to speed. It’s not exactly the prettiest game either unless you miss old 8-bit RPGs, but the graphics keep things as clear as they can in the chaos. I doubt you’ll be spending dozens of hours plowing through the hordes with new characters but the frantic fun is good enough to keep you busy for awhile, and that’s all I really ask of games like this.

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