Overload Review

Robot toasters, mad scientists, a girl with an electro-gun, and a snarky pal. More than just a video game concept, Overload’s story brings to mind an 80’s Saturday morning cartoon. It’s even set in an airship! This game has so much whimsy I found myself grinning the second I got to the cut scenes.

The plot is simple: Professor Goodman is visited by his granddaughter Elle and her ennui-stricken friend James. Elle, to story’s protagonist, is a spunky girl who wastes no time getting to business when Goodman’s lab is attacked. His rival, Doctor Shwarzmann appears with destruction in mind, armed with a fleet of evil/possessed household appliances. Desk fans, toasters, and tea kettles begin destroying the airship and endangering the crew. Elle takes up Goodman’s most recent invention, the Elec-Glove, and uses it to literally over-power the robots until they explode. For such a developed storyline the gameplay is quite simple – tap the robots as they appear on screen until they explode.

The robots are released onto the game field via portals. The portals open slowly so you have a half-second’s warning before another one pops out. All you need to do is tap the robots enough times to blow them up. The stronger machines take more taps to blow up, and the evil toasters are my favourite because their little piece of toast pops out with a ding. They also zoom around the screen with increasing speed as you progress. At time the game field looks like a strange ant farm with all of the robots flying around blasting holes in your airship. You are fighting a timer in a lot of levels, so speed is the key to success in this game.

Overload’s strongest point is its simplicity. No complicated walk throughs are needed. Robots appear on screen, you tap them, they explode. It really is that simple. But just the same the developers clearly enjoyed creating this steampunky world. They put a lot of thought into the character personalities, the opponent design, and the music as well. Even the menus are steampunky, with clanking sounds as the options reveal themselves. The design is delightful from start to finish, it’s a game you’ll want to show your friends. Lots of little detail makes what is really a very simple game more engaging than you’d expect. My favourite touch is the *ding* sound made by the toaster as it explodes and toast pops out.

Unfortunately I found that Overload’s biggest drawback is that same simplicity. You tap robots and they explode – nothing more. The story is cute, but unnecessary to learning how to play. Not all games need a story (did Asteroids have a story?), but Overload needs help from its characters to get you to buy in to the action. After all, frantically tapping frantically on your phone’s screen gets old rather quickly. The story is cute, but there’s not a lot of draw to return to it.

This app has proven to be a nice, quick diversion when I have a few moments to kill when waiting for a bus, but otherwise it’s not worth devoting much time to.