I’ve played a bunch of FPS’, starting as a child with DOOM, Blood, Quake and working through Chex Quests all the way up to contemporary titles like ULTRAKILL, Dusk, Cultic and Prodeus. This familiarity and continual engagement with the genre is what initially led me to be interested in this new entry.
Turbo Overkill is a cyberpunk parody, hitting every trope of dystopian worlds. Our main character Johnny Turbo (possible nod to the turboGrafx-16 mascot) is a cybernetic human equipped with a prosthetic leg literally made of an actual chainsaw.
The city of Paradise is controlled by a rogue AI called Syn who is working towards leading a human crushing world domination. Your mission is to find the ‘biocores’ (biological cores of the AI) and destroy them one by one.
The developers understand both cyberpunk aesthetics and the 1990s Boomer Shooters that the game gestures to. I think even if I’d never picked up any FPS game, and held zero understanding of cyberpunk I would still enjoy this game.
From the start, our character has twin guns, a double jump, a double dash and a chainsaw-leg first slide to annihilate whatever enemies get in his way. Depending on what difficulty you selected, this can run from a fairly challenging shooter to something approaching bullet hell, with quick movement and reflexes necessary to succeed.
Aesthetically it begins in a very familiar place with post-industrial cityscapes, mixed with the LED neon that we see in every bit of cyberpunk media. As you progress closer to the biocores this aesthetic changes. The use of VHS filters and representation of older technology, as well as tissues of plant matter. So as to reflect the ongoing corruption of Syn’s code. The breakdown of this aesthetic lends a certain level of suspense to these moments, its environmental storytelling functioning to tell you “Oh, so something is going wrong here”
Using the environment to gesture towards broader themes.
Developer, Sam Prebble (who has a background making DOOM II maps) spoke concerning the game and how this influence is felt throughout the experience. Turbo Overkill certainly feels and functions like a game which is aware of both traditional and contemporary FPS’, having classic level design tropes with familiar reference points such as blue/red keys to open doors and elevator transitions, but also understanding concepts that were not present in classic shooters.
As the game progresses, you move from a simple run, slide and jump mechanics to more vertical skills like grappling hooks and wall running. This leads to absurd chaining acrobatics, the game pushing you to explore all the motion it offers.
Similarly to other current FPS’, such as ULTRAKILL, speed and creativity are rewarded. Stylish play rewards you with coins, which you can use to buy upgrades and augments from one of the multiple vending machines that vocally attempt to convince you to spend your money.
The augmenting and upgrade systems give variety to a combat which was already interesting through the inclusion of the chainsaw-leg. The additions to the various weapons in the game add further interest to the combat: sliding into enemies with your chainsaw-leg is already fun, but adding an augment which allows you to gain HP when you do so incentivises you to get good at the action. Which – to me – is one of the core attractions of FPS.
I play it, so I can get better at it, the game absolutely facilitates this style of gameplay.
Often with FPS of this sort, a player decides on a favourite weapon. However, I was unable to really do this as I usually play with a controller. I will say that in my playing experience, I did see an improvement with the controller’s sensitivity, possibly due to a patch. However, I found the weapon selection particularly difficult.
The controller’s use of the right trigger and then the right stick to select weapons wasn’t particularly intuitive, nor accurate, leading me to go through the game only using 2 of the available arsenal.
I also found some of the enemies to be a little ‘bullet spongey’.
As this game is in Early Access and still has an episode to release, the developers have plenty of time to address these issues. I sincerely hope that they do, as Turbo Overkill makes clear that it wants to be spoken of in the same way as DOOM, creating a classic style fps for a contemporary audience. One that centres speed and acrobatics, alongside satisfying gunplay.
If Trigger Happy Interactive and Apogee Entertainment If the last chapter can keep this tone and momentum, we’ll have a fun, fast-paced, self-aware game that understands its appeal. Right now, it’s only a good game, but certainly one to watch.
- Good soundtrack, not intrusive but fast and driving.
- Interesting level design with nice aesthetic.
- Multiple areas for cover.
- Good gunplay, nice kickback.
- Alteration system adds some interesting variety to game play.
- Movement compliments the faster paced moments.
- Good difficulty curve.
- Fast reload after death keeps the pacing of the game.
- Good voice work and satirical writing.
- Pacing could be better between exploring and combat.
- Secrets are often accidentally found.
- Very fast, highly sensitive controls to the point of difficulty selecting guns w/controller as well as mouse + keyboard.
- Difficulty sometimes seeing enemies against background
- More ammo drops needed, pace drops to a dead stand-still when out of ammo and force the player to switch between weapons when they may favour one.
- Chainsaw leg is a good gimmick, but I almost never used it during gameplay.
- Enemies can take too much damage. Weapon damage/enemy health seems unbalanced.
- Level design can occasionally be confusing due to lack of environmental landmarks.