The adventure game genre has really taken off in the last few years. Of course, as an older gamer I remember playing some early adventure games as a kid. Titles like Police Quest and Leisure Suit Larry (Remember those lame questions they used as age protection?) really shaped what an adventure game should be in my mind. So, I tend hold modern adventure games to a stricter standard than the youngsters out there! Some times I find some bad ones…and other times I find some good ones.
Lighthouse Interactive gas recently published Overclocked: A History of Violence, created by German developer House of Tales. Overclocked puts the player in the role of Dr. David McNamara, an Army Psychiatrist sent to a mental hospital on Staten Island in New York City, to determine the cause behind the seemingly out-of-nowhere psychotic behavior of five young individuals. As you might have guessed, the truth is something that you don’t expect to be the case and, without spoiling anything regarding the game’s plot, it really is a thrilling ride.
Gameplay: The game, I am happy to say, is actually a fairly simplistic adventure title in design, which might sound like a negative, however this really allows the player to enjoy the story being presented and not get mired down by pointless puzzles. Moving the good doctor around is done simply by clicking on a location or object you want him to move to or use. At the bottom of the screen are the player’s inventory items all laid out for easier access. Items can sometimes be added to one another inside the inventory area and can also be selected for use in the game world.
One of the big plot devices in Overclocked is that you will ‘jump’ into other character’s shoes to relive their past events. These past events are all intriguing and, sometimes, just plain creepy! However, these change-ups to the flow of the game really do keep the story moving and interesting.
The only complaint I have regarding the gameplay system is that the event-triggering in the game is a bit too linear at times. For instance, at the end of a day I tried to call one of the contacts listed in Dr McNamara’s PDA-phone. He didn’t answer the call and wouldn’t until I was back in the hotel room. This inflexibility can lead the player to wander around for a bit until they perform the correct action at the correct location.
Graphics / Visuals: Visually, the graphics in Overclocked are pleasing to the eye and have just enough ‘chutzpah’ to keep it interesting. This is no simple 2D adventure game. House of Tales has done a great job integrating 3D models and 2D elements. They also implemented a facial animation system which really helps sell character’s emotions. Environmental effects such as rain are also done very well and give Overclocked a very organic feeling.
Additionally, the in-game camera performs various ‘Hollywood-style’
transitions throughout the course of the game, adding to that
‘cinematic feel’ the title is ripe with.
Sound / Music: The sound design is well done in Overclocked and the environmental visuals would be much less interesting without the ambient noises to go with them. The voice acting in the title is average, with some cheesy dialog scattered in every so often but otherwise enjoyable. Additionally, the score of Overclocked is exactly what you would expect to hear in any Hollywood psychological-thriller movie. It dances from the eerie all the way to the truly anxiety-ridden.
Conclusion: The atmosphere created by the graphics, sound, and story all combine wonderfully in Overclocked: A History of Violence. This game is a must-play for adventure game fans out there looking for an engrossing experience. There are definitely alot of modern features in the game while at the same time it holds on to the basic tenants of adventure gaming set forth so long ago by the classic titles I mentioned at the beginning of this review.