VIDEO REVIEW AND STUDY
WRITTEN REVIEW AND STUDY
I was expecting something completely different then what I got with Pressure Overdrive. I was expecting a racing game mixed with shooting, maybe something along the lines of Blizzard’s old game “Rock and Roll Racing” but instead what I got was a very good; albeit short, SHMUP. Whether it was poor communication and marketing from the devs or the density which can only be attributed to me, this game was not what I expected. But it was good.
In Pressure Overdrive you take on the roll of a young man whose lake has been stolen by a generic green villain. Think Snidely Whiplash without as manly of a mustache. You jump into your steam powered buggy and race towards his factory to try and discover what has happened to your water. Along the way there is only one path that you follow and upon this path you meet a variety of other steam powered baddies who are try to stop you.
The game is short, taking me close to 3 hours to complete; but it was enjoyable. There are a variety of different enemies all with different attack patterns and powers. Some would shoot a spread of bullets, while others would drop lava upon the track. There where small rickety wagons with guns strapped on to them and large tanks that took up half the road. With all the variety in enemies; however, my strategy for the most part remained the same. You are able to tank quite a bit of damage, so though I attempted to dodge incoming bullets I never sweat it if I took several to the face, knowing that I was soon going to be back to full health after passing a check mark.
The game introduces the enemies slowly, you only see around 5 different enemies on the first 10 levels. This ultimately hurts the game as you don’t really start to see interesting enemy combinations until the later stages. Which leads to the next issue with the game, a lot of the levels feel the same. There are 3 settings you travel through; a drained river bottom, a resort, and an underground cave, all which contain 10 different levels. For most of these “worlds” you can’t tell the difference from one level to the next. You might get an occasional different landmark, or new enemy; but there really isn’t anything that makes these levels stand out from one another. With that said, I felt like the last three levels of the game were great. They all felt challenging and fresh. but besides those the levels just were almost something to get through in order to get to the meat of the game, the boss fights.
There are three bosses that come at the end of every location. These bosses were varied and very fun to fight. They required a lot of skill, strategy, and practice. The first boss was relatively easy though still fun. The later bosses were substantial more challenging and took several attempts in order to learn their weaknesses and patterns. After the first boss I had to ask myself, why could the whole game be more like that and less of the fluff. They were great if not few.
I have a soft spot when it comes to games that allow you to upgrade cars. I blame the old game, Off Road, for that. So naturally when I saw that I was earning gold from all the baddies I was killing I was thrilled to see what appeared to be a very robust upgrade system. There were several different guns, all which had three different upgrade levels. Different mounts and abilities for the front, side, and rear portion of your buggy. You could even buy new buggies with improved stats. So I picked a few upgrades and maxed them out close to the start of the second world (level 12 or so). I was unstoppable, somehow I had picked what seemed to be the most optimal setup right from the get go. So as I earned even more money, I would experiment with different load outs just to find that what I had picked from the start really was the most versatile and consistent setup.
The weapons were all very different from one another, but it was pretty clear that there were good guns and bad guns. Pressure Overdrive punishes you if you do not pick a good gun from the start. The different hard points were also very volatile in their viability. Extras that did passive damage were awesome, extra weapons that had active abilities seemed gimmicky and unreliable. I still had fun trying different load outs, but if I ever got to a level that was difficult, I would just switch to my mini gun and call it a day.
One of the funnest things about Pressure Overdrive is the fact that it is a couch co-op game. It is fun by yourself, but even more fun with a friend. You have to balance upgrades and pickups with one another, so even though you have literally double the firepower your buggy advances at half the speed. It is a clever balancing mechanic, and makes for a good time. The game only being around 3 hours also makes the multiplayer that much more enjoyable. You aren’t trying to sit down for weeks on end to try and finish a game, but rather you can play a few minutes here and a few minutes there and still make good progress.
As you beat the game you are introduced to a fun style of play that allows you to revisit any previously played level in an attempt to get perfect scores. This is accomplished by killing all the enemies and collecting every piece of gold possible. As you go back to old levels you don’t retain all of your old gear, rather you have access to as much gold as you had up to the point. For example, I might have 500 gold to spend on upgrades for stage 3 and 2500 pieces of gold to spend for stage 7. It is an interesting mechanic that will keep completion-ist coming back for more, and the more you have to replay a level the more you learn its patterns and it becomes an enemy to defeat, just like any boss.
Pressure Overdrive is a good game. It isn’t without flaws, but it is good arcade fun.
If you are interested you can buy it now on Steam.