Overcome – Review
01 Mar, 2019
Overcome is a challenging platformer about grief, based on the developer’s own experiences. Did it break out hearts? Here’s what we think.
Overcome is a deceptive game. It only has four levels, and each of the four levels is geographically very small in size. Given free reign, I could have finished the entire game in a matter of minutes.
It took me 8 hours to beat.
The game took so long because of the very careful placement of enemies and hazards in each level. Each obstacle requires fine-tuned reflexes to get past, and for me, that meant dying hundreds of times. Attempt after attempt, minute after minute, the time blends together into a paste of failure.
And then, there comes the one run. You can’t distinguish it from all the other, failed runs, until by a hair’s breadth, you survive and make progress. Then, you die again, a little later.
Even if Overcome’s style is quite in line with such precision platformers as Super Meat Boy or Celeste, it uniquely shuns micro-levels in favour of lengthy gauntlets. Checkpoints are hard-earned, and the bigger chunk of your playtime will be spent trying to get a sequence of jumps and deflects just right.
According to lone developer Kabir Lal, Overcome is something of a reflection on his own struggles in life. The New Delhi-based developer underwent cancer treatment and college at the same time, before enduring a break-up.
There’s not a lot of direct storytelling to illustrate this, but the game instead conveys feelings by way of its mechanics.
There are the usual culprits: the pain of failure, the frustration and the despair of it all, the numbness that comes with trying a section over and over. Then there’s the relief and ecstacy of making it through. But there’s also lighter touches, like having to deflect attacks at the right time, or baiting ‘bull’ hearts into charging at you, or being immobilised by massive jumping hearts.
These snatches of sensations skim across the surface of the developer’s experience. It’s not overbearing or spelled-out, and leaves things mostly to your imagination. Rather than a deep dive into a pool, it’s more of a ripple-flecked reflection image.
Overcome is a simple game, but the developer has not foregone production quality. The pixel art graphics fall just above the line of adequacy, while the game’s sound capably blends into the background, providing both crucial play feedback and a musical rhythm.
The game is both difficult to play and difficult to put down. The former outstrips the latter in one grating section of the game that involved pitch perfect timing versus wall-mounted lasers. Maybe that’s intentional? Once I got past it, it didn’t seem to matter so much. It took a long time to complete what was really a short journey, and it involved a lot of punishment along the way, but none of that really mattered compared to the victory of making it through.
Developer: Overcome Studios
Country of Origin: India
Publisher: Overcome Studios
Release Date: 27 February 2019
Platforms: PC and Mac
This review of Overcome is based on a copy provided by the developer.
For more information on Overcome, have a look at our coverage of the game.