I absolutely love the Descent series, as I mentioned in my first post about Overload. Descent instilled in me a lifelong passion for the six degree of freedom (6DoF) genre, and I’ve purchased every 6DoF game made since ’94. While there have been some impressive single player 6DoF titles, notably Sublevel Zero and Descent: Underground is looking more and more solid, in my humble (actually, not-so-humble) opinion, nothing has captured that ‘multiplayer in the mines’ feel that I grew up playing with my brother and friends, and later competitively in Descent 3. Nothing, that is, until…
Revival Productions, the studio behind Overload that’s comprised of former creators of the Descent trilogy, has nailed the feel of the original Descent games, and yes, possibly improved upon them. If you’re an old school Material Defender, this is immediately evident in video without even downloading the gameplay teaser – that’s how good a job they’ve done. Perhaps I shouldn’t be as surprised as I am because after all, these are the guys that not only created Descent, but created the 6DoF genre. But after decades of playing Descent and every other 6DoF game made, I am, because it hasn’t been done since 1999. I’m not only surprised, I’m excited as hell. There hasn’t been a title that’s gotten me excited about multiplayer gaming in 5+ years, and I’m sure glad that’s changed.
Overload (assuming their Kickstarter succeeds, so go back it!) is the game multiplayer 6DoF pilots (read: fanatics) like myself have been waiting for since Descent 3‘s poor netcode finally become unbearable for most of us in the mid-2000’s. The gameplay is smooth despite the alpha release’s non-optimized state, and the weapons are well made and well balanced. Many of the base Descent 1 & 2 weapons make a recurrence, albeit morphed slightly (the Flak Cannon doesn’t have the range of Descent 1’s Vulcan Cannon but has a stun effect, while the Vortex is a combo of Lasers, Spreadfire, and Helix) but some of the silly (from a competitive multiplayer perspective, at least) weapons such as the Omega and Microwave Cannons are thankfully missing.
Overload’s dynamic lighting and particle effects are amazing, especially contrasted against the otherwise dim and foreboding lighting of the mines you’re in. You’d think this was an AAA title, rather than a few veteran indie devs with the Unity engine. The robot death physics are also varied, awesome, and lengthy, sometimes lasting 5-10 seconds.
Overload sounds as good as it looks. It’s kept the classic techno-industrial MIDI soundtrack of Descent 1 but with surround sound. The soundtrack definitely adds to the immersion, inciting the ‘alone in the mines’ feeling that every Descent player remembers.
Let’s Play Overload
6DoF games have a very high learning curve. Overload mitigates this somewhat by decreasing the ‘chording’ speed advantage (combining your forward thrust vector with horizontal and vertical vectors), allowing keyboard, gamepad, and joystick controls, and should the kickstarter succeed, making the game available on every major platform (PC, Mac, Linux, PS4, Xbox One). Brave that learning curve people, because you don’t know gaming satisfaction until you’ve mastered the mines.
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