by Matt Porter
reviewed on PC
Harder to play than the 1812 Overture
It took me an hour and a half to get past the first level of Overture. Hard doesn’t begin to cover it really. It’s a fast paced, action ‘Rogue-lite’, with a lot of monsters, a lot of loot, and not a lot of story. While the game is certainly fun in short bursts, you are going to have to sink a lot of time into it before you can progress.
There are 24 playable classes split up into four types: warriors, rogues, mages and shamans. At the start, you will just have one option from each of the four types, the standard warrior, a ranger, the wizard and the cleric. The others are unlocked using the money you accumulate each time you venture out into one of the randomly generated dungeons. This money is also used to upgrade the attack power of a character once it has been unlocked.
Early on you will probably only be getting a few hundred goal per run, so it’s quite a limited resource. It seems odd therefore, that money is used both to unlock new characters and upgrade them. If you want to get anywhere in the game, you will need to upgrade a class a fair number of times before it is powerful enough to take on the end boss of each level. This means you will need to unlock a character you actually like playing, which is impossible to know beforehand. If you don’t get lucky, you will probably end up feeling like you have wasted some of your time, and money, on a class when you could have just been upgrading another one.
Into the action
That said, the classes aren’t all that different when it comes down to it. You move around with WASD and attack by using the mouse buttons, where the attacks will go towards your mouse cursor. Right clicking will use your class’ special ability. You will either be up close with a melee weapon or firing from afar with a ranged weapon or a magic spell, but there aren’t a great many differences between these. You will be safer firing from a distance, but you won’t be able to make as many hits, so it balances out. However, even the sturdier characters can die pretty quickly in a bad situation.
To get out of a bad spot, you have the ability to run fast. In order to do this, you stop attacking, and run towards your mouse cursor. Dust picks up behind your character and you start hightailing it away. It is a clunky mechanic that could have been improved by just having a button assigned to it. It’s just too finicky to get right in a high pressure situation. It’s also not helped by your cursor often being lost in the mayhem on screen. This also hinders you in situations where you need to quickly attack in another direction.
However, when you are in the thick of the action, it is a lot of fun. Damage numbers fly out of enemies and gold and items pour out of corpses and chests in a hugely satisfying fashion. Equipping items is as easy as walking over them and pressing a button. They will be ‘identified’ when you step on them, and some green or red text will tell you whether it’s better than what you currently have equipped. It won’t tell you deeper stats such as special powers, like a weapon which has a chance to reanimate slain enemies to fight for you. But this information can be viewed from a pause screen.
Frustrating, yet rewarding
What you get is just the luck of the draw though, so you will sometimes find yourself woefully underprepared for the final boss of each level, and even some of the smaller enemies will pose a tough challenge if they manage to gang up on you. The randomness of loot drops doesn’t help the overall difficulty. It’s obviously supposed to be hard, but the difficulty invariably comes from not having the right stats for the fight, rather than based on player skill.
Overture is frustrating at times and has some odd ways of doing things, but when it works, it really works. It takes cues from the likes of Diablo, Zelda and Realm of the Mad God, and there are many reasons for fans of those games to check this one out. Just know that you will be spending a lot of time in the game, and much of it may feel like a grind. There’s no story, and no other modes to speak of. Thankfully, the action makes up for it in most places.
Great, simple action, and satisfying amounts of loot.
Overly hard, much of the game feels like a grind to progress.