Under the Microscope: Overlord

posted in: Games, Reviews | 0

Overlord 7It’s been just over a month since the release of Overlord at the Wakefield show, so it’s about time we got a review up on the site. In the first commercial game release for RISC OS in quite a while, Overlord comes from brand new game studio Amcog Games.

Lead by Anthony Van Bartram, who only started using RISC OS back in June 2014, has produced a retro-themed space shooter with 47 minutes of original music including 7 in-game themes, original sound effects and graphics – all written in BBC BASIC (source code is included!).

Although there were some hard copies available at the Wakefield show, the game is a digital purchase via the Pling Store. The process is quite easy, if you haven’t used the Pling Store before, you just need to download the application itself, unzip it and place it wherever you want on your computer. Once run, you’ll need to register or login to the Pling Store, the registration process took me a few minutes when I signed up a few months back and as far as I’m aware all information including card information is kept locally on your computer rather than in a data center somewhere.

Once I’d found Overlord in the Games section of the store and purchased it, it took an hour or two for my payment to get processed then the game was ready to download. The download took under a minute and the game ran straight out of the box.

The first thing you notice with Overlord is the look that Anthony is clearly trying to go for, it’s designed to give you that nostalgic 90s space shooter feeling, and it does it very well. The game’s story is portrayed through on-screen text summaries, with accompanying music that provides atmosphere quite nicely.

There are two difficulty modes to choose from, there’s Beginner and Master, I found the latter to be horrendously difficult at times, so I’d start with Beginner unless you’re quite brave!

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The control options at the start of the game

Controls-wise, at the main menu you can click on what control system you’d rather play with, there’s the standard keyboard controls (Z for left, X for right, space to shoot etc.) or you can opt to play the mouse.

The mouse controls are by far the hardest to control, I couldn’t stop my ship from floating around in massive circles to begin with, although this is probably down to my inability to use the mouse properly rather than a defect with the controls, but it does feel slightly too sensitive at times.

Overlord involves you taking control of a space ship in forward-scrolling combat. The game is built up a number of missions, each one sees you commandeer your ship to its objective by avoiding and destroying enemies and asteroids that fall into your path, as well as picking up any power ups on the way. Once you’ve reached the final location for your mission, there will be a final stand off with a boss-type enemy. The format is quite simple, but to play the game well is a bit more difficult.

A nice option that Overlord provides users is the ability to play in different languages, as well as English, the title can be played in French or German – a good idea really considering there are a lot of RISC OS users in countries like France and Germany.

Overlord features 47 minutes of original music as well as sound effects and themes. The audio is all very well produced and fits in nicely with the style of the game.

Overlord 8Stability was never going to be much of an issue with a game of this nature, the application itself takes up very little room and is written entirely in BASIC from what I gather.

Longevity-wise, the game’s novelty doesn’t run out as quickly as you might expect for a game that has a simple objective of survive a swarm, kill a boss, play the next mission. The game’s music provides very appropriate atmosphere to a title that is coupled with tidy graphics and simple yet solid gameplay.

The game should play fine on a vast majority of RISC OS machines, be it legacy 26-bit computers or 32-bit machines. I’ve played the game for a number of hours both on a Raspberry Pi 2 running RISC OS 5.21 as well as Virtual RPC-SA and RISC OS 4.02.

Overlord is a game that breathes some new life into a RISC OS games market that has been stagnant for a while from a development perspective. Ports into RISC OS from platforms like Linux is a trend that seems to have overtaken native development. The game is solid and well-authored, it successfully delivers that retro space shoot ’em up feel for the ever so reasonable price of a tenner – worth a pop if you’re a serial procrastinator like myself.

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