The realm of turn based strategy and survival games are completely foreign to me. From afar, they’ve always looked too complex and intimidating. There have been times when the look or swagger of a game in the category grabbed me, but I would never come too close because of my unreasonable fear of the genre. I’m really glad I got over that hump to try out developer and publisher Finji’s Overland.
What’s immediately striking about Overland is its presentation that challenges one’s expectations of what a survival game looks like, and what it feels like to be present in a post-apocalyptic space. It’s art direction, from its character art to its menus, is modern and has a sharp artistic appearance to it. I often find that many games with a post-apocalyptic motif go for a dire mood with a grit that is reflected in every corner of the game. Overland does place its players in dire situations, but it’s in a minimalist and neutral color wrapper that works well. It’s a welcomed change of pace.
The goal in Overland is of course, to survive. While exploring small, detailed dioramas of the world through the game’s turned based system, your first survivor attempts to find other people and supplies to live to the next day. You will find all sorts of survival tools and interesting people along the way, including really good dogs.
The number one resource in Overland is the gas you’ll find to fuel up your car to get you to the next destination. Run out of gas and you’ll find yourself in a “no man’s land”, an extremely dangerous area where you’re surrounded by mysterious sound-sensitive creatures that typically roam the game in lower numbers. After completion of every level, your presented with forks in the road where you have to choose where you want to go, what resources you want to go for, and how you want to spend your precious gas.
I’m new to this type of game, but I found surviving and planning my next move in Overland to be really engrossing and even frightening at times. Its style instills a quirkiness into every character, and an intrigue for the world around you. What I’m not so sure of is how strong the game will be after so many hours or how dynamic and interesting its procedural generated levels will be as the game develops.
Overland is currently an early access project, and in my demo I did run into a level with no gasoline, the resource you need most and is supposed to be present in every level so you have the chance to make progress. The game’s developer made note of the issue to fix it for future builds of the game