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Progression in a game is so important. That inspiring feeling of getting stronger as you overcome obstacles can feel so rewarding. But what if instead of you getting stronger, the world around you and the challenges became more and more extreme. Overwhelm, the new “anti-metroidvania”, tries to take that concept and put it to the test. With a world, where enemies evolve, you can only progress by sharpening your small set of skills provided at the start of the game. Are you up for the challenge?
Overwhelm came out just a few days ago and I decided that this concept was interesting enough to check it out and boy, am I glad that I did. Let’s start with the fact that this game is not going to be a cake walk. It is tough! The main concept is to navigate through the map, find the five bosses, defeating them and bringing the crystal they drop back to your base. At first glance, it feels very similar to a regular Metroidvania but instead of you receiving power-ups from a boss, the enemies throughout will receive various buffs when bosses are defeated from wall clinging feet, faster flying speed, or spitting poison at you. This can be super challenging especially since you die in one hit and only have three lives until you start it all over again. That being said, the main progression for this game is learning the mechanics and the feeling of being a badass when you make a crazy play that gets you through the next boss battle or enemy filled hallway. I will admit at this point I have only been able to do 3 out of the 5 crystals at the same time, but each run I improve a little more and it has been a thrilling experience.
You have only a gun and the ability to dash attack enemies but you are in there to clear out this immense amount of creatures. Luckily, the game does provide a Co-op mode where you can team up with a buddy to help you along the way who can revive you if you are downed as long as they can get to you in time. For me, I had an amazing time hanging out with a good friend screaming and panicking while we jumped, dashed and shot our way through the hive. The game really does a great job at staying true to its name by really feeling overwhelming. You can die in one hit, enemies can often blend in with the environment, a number of enemies grow over time and each time you die your vision becomes more tunneled and it gets harder to see the world around you. All of this together with a world that is getting stronger just becomes the horrifying icing on the cake. I also must admit that there are a couple of times where I literally jumped out of fear from some of the enemies that will appear on your screen and attack out of nowhere.
Not everything is perfect about this game, unfortunately. The mechanics for jumping and dashing feel a bit clunky at times but that could just be me getting more used to the play style rather than it being an actual issue. What was a pretty big issue was the fact that it crashed on me twice, which can feel extremely upsetting in a game where defeat causes you to start back at the start. The silver lining to this is that the game crashing had no effect on the Switch and I was easily able to just restart the software, which is relatively quick. A few small other nitpicky things such as certain platforms that you would fall through randomly but overall the immersive theme and intense gameplay make up for it.
For only a ten dollar price point this is, in my mind, an easy pick up if you are looking for a challenging couch co-op game for your Nintendo Switch. Need some more convincing? Check out the trailer below to see exactly what this game is all about.