Overwhelm: Review (Switch)
After countless deaths and numerous attempts to clear the vicious hive, the desire to keep exploring until the enemy was defeated refused to stop growing. The excitement you feel with each dive into the deadly landscape is as addicting as it is thrilling. Tense moments coupled with sweaty palms and an increased heart rate, make Overwhelm a punishing, yet incredibly satisfying, experience.
Developed by Ruari O’Sullivan and published by Alliance, originally on Mac and PC back in June of 2018, Overwhelm makes its first appearance on the Nintendo Switch, where it fits in perfectly. The premise sets your character on a mission to clear the various enemies of the hive and collect the five crystals that are held by each of the five separate bosses. The catch is, while you progress and defeat these crystal-keepers, the enemies in the world around you will absorb the powers of the defeated bosses, giving them additional abilities while your character doesn’t receive the same power-up opportunities. With each crystal you acquire, the various scorpions, flying bugs, and other enemy creatures will become more challenging forcing you to change your strategy on the fly. Oh and did I mention that all it takes is one shot from these enemies to kill you, and you only get three chances on each run to succeed? Because those features will lead you, depending on your skill level, down the path of multiple attempts to clear the assortment of enemies from the hive. Thanks to the fluid gameplay, catchy, chip tune soundtrack, and the satisfaction of defeating a boss after repeated efforts, multiple attempts to clear the hive aren’t frustrating, they’re actually welcome.
The fluidity of the gameplay is one of the main reasons it’s easy to keep coming back for more no matter how many deaths you’ve tallied. At first, I was inclined to switch up the default control scheme that sets the “jump” option to the left bumper. It didn’t feel natural after I’ve spent so many years being accustom to “jump” being one of the face buttons. The problem with switching that layout was that in order to aim your gun, you need to use the right analog stick. Switching between aiming my gun and having to jump became such a problem that I went back to the default controller layout and was much more successful. Overwhelm challenged my comfort zone on more than a few occasions, and becoming acclimated with their suggested controller layout was one of them. Once the controls were mastered, the game became too hard to put down. As you take down boss after boss, your character movements become more natural to you, and the timing and precision that are necessary in order to succeed become second nature.
A wonderful feature for the Switch version is the addition of a local co-op mode. Co-op will feature the same exact hive that you’d take on solo, but the addition of a partner in crime makes it so your deaths aren’t permanent. Each player is able to revive the other if they are killed leading to a, somewhat, easier trek through the hive. The same strategy you’d apply solo will still come into play, but the ability to separate and distract enemies allows you to use some divide and conquer techniques. Additionally, this is a game that’s just a blast to play with a friend. The fast-paced style coupled with the one-shot deaths make the tension just as palpable in co-op as it is while playing solo. The Switch has done a great job with keeping local co-op alive and well, and Overwhelm is another fantastic experience to share with a friend.
Full disclosure, I’ve never been a fan of games that are as punishing as Overwhelm can be. The patience required to complete a game like this has often alluded me, but there wasn’t one moment while playing Overwhelm that I thought about stopping. While I played through on the default difficulty settings, Overwhelm is equipped with some fantastic accessibility options that allow you to adjust the game to match the experience you’re looking for. No matter how you play through the game, the rush that’s felt when the dreaded “LAST CHANCE” warning that flashes after you’ve died twice on a run through is just as exhilarating. With your palms sweating and your heart rate rising, strategy often takes a backseat and instinct kicks in, for better or worse. If you’re like me and need quite a handful of attempts to take down the hive, you’ll appreciate the fact that with each run you’ll come away with new knowledge which will help lift you to ultimate victory.
Overwhelm is out now on the Nintendo Switch and is a truly, thrilling experience. Evolving enemies will keep you on your toes and the boss fights will test your skill at every turn. With each crystal obtained you get one step closer to an exciting end-sequence that brings your mission full circle. Any fans of the action-horror genre will appreciate what Overwhelm brings to the table, and people like me who typically avoid these games, can still find hours of joy taking on the deadly hive. Are you ready to start your mission?