Overdriven Reloaded is a game that took me back to the days of top down space shooters of old and upon starting the game I instantly went back in time. With only my Atari ST and Pro 5000 joystick missing, instead replaced with an a Xbox One X and Xbox Elite controller, I had flashbacks of the insanely busy levels and varied difficulty that these type of games had back in the early nineties and the rage I used to feel while trying to defeat the same boss for the 27th time. Overdriven has the charm of a retro shoot ‘em up with a modern sharpness to it, but be warned, it’s a very busy game and when I say busy, I mean there is so much going on on screen at once that it might just make your eyes hurt.
With its very retro look and feel, Overdriven does a good job of capturing the essence that made games like this one of the most played genres of the late 80’s to early 90’s and with its simplistic approach to its controls it certainly comes close to looking and feeling like a top down shooter of old. Consisting of up, down, left, right, fire, special, shield and mines, there isn’t much to master in terms of its controls but rather how you deal with what is going on on screen determines how well you will do overall. As mentioned earlier, the on screen action gets very busy, so busy in fact that it’s almost impossible to see any of the level design due to the amount of enemies, neon missiles, lasers and bombs flying around the screen at any one time.
The hectic action going on throughout feels very distracting and you won’t have any clue as to what’s happening, almost firing blind in to space, hoping that you shoot something of importance. It doesn’t ease up either as the further in to the levels you go the more manic things get. While the overall gameplay is responsive and simple to master, it’s somewhat overshadowed by the overly busy goings on within the levels. I felt as if luck was what I was relying on rather than actually mastering the game which lead to some regular occurring frustrating moments. The difficulty of this game is so up and down and lacks the consistency needed to enjoy the overall experience and the fiddly frustrating boss fights don’t help things either. The key to the success of these shoot ‘em up games way back when was the progressive difficulty levels that needed mastering, but unfortunately here, Overdriven suffers with a lack of continuity.
While it plays fairly well overall, it is sadly let down by its dull level design and overly hectic action happening on screen all at once. There is very little story to follow and the audio, while it’s not particularly bad, is however somewhat underwhelming at best. Visually, Overdriven looks sharp and vibrant, with the multicoloured neon bombs, lasers and missiles all popping out of the screen. It is an accurate representation of the top down shooter games of old and the overall look has been faithfully recreated. The issues with the visuals though come with some concerns and what this visual style and manic on screen action can also bring is some potential issues to anyone sensitive to bright flashing images and lighting effects on screen. There is so much going on that it may be somewhat of an unenjoyable experience for anybody with sensitive eyes or somebody who is unable to look at constant flashing images for a prolonged amount of time.
There are various modes and difficulty levels to choose and as this game was originally a PC release, Overdriven Reloaded on Xbox One comes packed with all the additional DLC added after the base release on PC, so everything is included for one fairly small price point. There is certainly enough to keep players busy here and at just short of £7 on the Xbox Store, it offers pretty good value for your money. I will say though that Overdriven Reloaded in its current form is a very niche game and will only appeal to fanatics of this genre and who love a challenge that tests their patience and durability of their controllers. While it ticks all the boxes of a nostalgic trip, it unfortunately falls short with too many little issues getting in the way of what could of been a more enjoyable experience than it ended up being.