Preview: Turbo Overkill

2022-05-03 by Callum Andrews

Kill em

I don't usually play Earl Access games, mainly because I feel the stuff I buy should be in a finished state. You wouldn't for example buy a table with three legs waiting for the fourth one to be finished or buy a car without an engine because the interior is finished and you can sit in it. But still, this is something that is prevalent in the gaming industry and doesn't look like it's going away. However, there are occasions that one needs to set their rules and principles aside and try something new for a change and for this particular case, I sure am glad that I did. Turbo Overkill with its very over-the-top name could have not been anything else than a shooter, and to be more precise an FPS for that matter. The last time I had this much fun with a shooter was when I played Doom (2016) and Turbo Overkill had me in the same kind of mind-space as Doom. Who can forget the slogan for that game which was basically "Rip and Tear". Well, it might as well have been the slogan for this game as well. Turbo Overkill is yet another one of those games that are throwbacks to the older shooters of the mid-'90s and early 2000s, before health regeneration and cover-based shooting was a thing. Where strafing and jumping and moving around in an arena-like environment was the main form of survival. It does however have a couple of its own tricks up its sleeve making it feel unique and fresh in its own right.

You play as Johny Turbo, a cybernetically enhanced bounty hunter returning to his hometown of Paradise, which has been taken over by the rogue AI Syn and its cybernetically enhanced minions. You are tasked with dealing with this A.I. and shutting it down for good. These kinds of games are usually very thin on story and this one is no exception, it's there to give you some kind of meaning to why you are killing and destroying everything around you and that is usually where it stops. There will probably be more to the story as this is somewhat hinted at by a cutscene in the midgame but that it's going to be anything deeper than your usual rain puddle, I wouldn't count on. What you can count on here is the heavy and meaty combat and there sure is plenty of it. It's fast, it's fun, and it requires you in some cases to think on your feet. The weapons loadout is your usual standard fare of guns in this kind of FPS. Where you've got your starting pistol after which you get your shotgun and then your machinegun and so on. All of the weapons also have (or will have) alternate fire modes. Which in some cases make it into two-different weapons. For example the "machine gun", which initially is an Uzi but turns into a machinegun with better precision once you use the alternate fire mode. The same goes for the double-barrel shotgun, which turns into a grenade launcher once the alternate fire mode is used. The alternates for the weapons however need to be acquired throughout the game. As the player progresses they will come across various vending machines in which these alternates for your weapons can be purchased

Metal surgery

Apart from weapon enhancements, Johny can also buy various upgrades to further enhance his cybernetic capabilities. These enhancements provide Johny with some capabilities both in the form of him being able to kill his enemies in various ways but also in the way of making it easier for him to move around in the various environments. One key enhancement that Johny has and that is critical to the gameplay is the chainsaw augmentation that Johny has on his leg. Apart from being a really cool gimmick, this is also something that will get the player out of several sticky situations. Since whenever Johny decides to whip out the chainsaw they get into a sliding animation enabling them to get out of almost anywhere and there will be situations where the player will find themselves surrounded by enemies and where the chainsaw will come in handy.

As per usual with these sorts of games, there is also a bit of platforming, of which I've never been a particular fan. There is a very fine line of not overdoing it and in this case, I'm sad to say that the line gets crossed. Especially considering that the early access version is only the first episode of the game. It makes me wonder how much more platforming will be added to the later parts. Considering that the player will be able to jump, double-jump, dash, double-dash, and slide you sure can count on that there will be platforming sections where you are required to perform several of these moves in combination. I can understand that the developer wants the player to utilize all of Johny's abilities in some way or another but it should not be forced, which I feel is the case in this instance.

Hope there's more to come

For some reason also, the developer has opted out of giving the player the ability to save whenever they want, instead opting for a checkpoint system. This wouldn't have been much of an issue, but as it is right now this checkpoint system is broken and needs to be looked over. There are several instances where the player will fight several waves of enemies and move to another area only to be killed and have to restart the previous area again. There will also be occasions where the player will have to defeat several waves of tough enemies and later face a pretty tough platforming challenge. If the player dies during the platforming part they will once more need to face the waves of enemies. This can all be alleviated by a save system or a better checkpoint system. Considering what games Turbo Overkill is trying to imitate, this seems like an odd choice from the developers' side. I also felt that some of the later levels kept dragging for far too long. Initially, the levels are somewhat shorter and you get through them fairly quickly once the you get to the later stages of the game, it's not unusual to hit around the hour mark for just one level. Considering that the initial ones were just around 20-25 minutes.

When it comes to the presentation this game hits a homerun. You won't find the prettiest grahics here but what what you will find is some excellent artistry that in my mind represents an aesthetic of what people should think about when they think about the word cyberpunk. It's has that 80's retro vibe, with the pink neon lights and the tall buildings in the sky. Flying cars moving about in the distant sky, pink holograms and billboards flickering in the distance. This give the imperssion that there is a living world out there and that the player is just a spek in a much larger world. The music is also perfectly suited to the occasion and setting, coming in the form of heavy synthwave, amping up the player and edging them on to take on the next wave of enemies spawning in.
Considering that this is still just in earl access a lot of stuff is going to be fixed and tweaked. Even though some of the points mentioned above can take out some of the fun from the experience, this game is off to a great start and I'm already hoping that we are going to see a sequel to it at some point.