There’s something about Turbo Overkill that makes it so easy to slip into a state of flux and get lost in the carnage. The way you glide effortlessly over wet pavement, chainsaw leg outstretched, tearing through crowds of cyber demons, feels like you’re flying. From an outsider’s perspective, I can only imagine it all looks like frantic mayhem, but when you’re in the driver’s seat, running and shooting feels as natural as moving your own body. Ironic, given that your own body is separated and reconstituted with all sorts of new ways to mutilate and dismember throughout Turbo Overkill.
We can’t talk about Turbo Overkill without first talking about Doom 2016 and Doom Eternal. The triple-A reimagining of the Doom series has revitalized the entire “boomer shooter” genre, and it’s thanks to the success of these games that gamers have such an appetite for the high-octane gory mayhem genre in Turbo. Overkill. It’s easy and necessary to compare these two modern take on classic shooters, but relying on New Doom to be a yardstick by which to measure Turbo Overkill may be doing both games a disservice. On the contrary, it is more useful to think of them as branching paths in the genre. Doom 2016 and Doom Eternal represent an evolution towards complex puzzle-like combat, while Turbo Overkill refines the core gameplay of Doom and, perhaps to a greater extent, Quake, to deliver the fastest, most powerful version. fluid and best controlled of any game like this. It is brilliant in its simplicity and perfect execution.
If learning to use Doom Eternal’s multitude of weapons and abilities is cognitive overload for you, Turbo Overkill should be a refreshing change of pace. You have guns and you can shoot bad guys. You can jump, you can dash, and you can run on walls. It doesn’t really get much more complicated than that, but luckily there’s plenty to do. As you progress you’ll gain a few new abilities and the ability to purchase augments for your body and alternate fire modes for your weapons, but there’s such a gradual progression and so few mechanics that never becomes overwhelming. Most of your mental energy is spent mapping the giant levels in your mind so you can find your way back to a secret chest when you finally get the key. The combat itself is pure instinct, and it’s amazing.
The aforementioned chainsaw leg is your best friend. Sliding accelerates you forward at ridiculous speeds and lets you charge through waves of enemies to give you space. Eventually, you can upgrade the Chainsaw to give you health and armor as well, so a valid (and fun) strategy is to simply back off and block off a mob until only red streaks on the ground. Your arsenal of shotguns, SMGs, rocket launchers, and miniguns are just as effective and even more satisfying to unload in Turbo Overkill’s bestiary of bizarre cyber monsters.
Cyberpunk setting is definitely the flavor of the week, but Turbo Overkill makes it its own with imaginative character design, compelling art direction, and vertical levels that often transform in unexpected surreal ways. One second you’re staring at pink neon lights strewn across rain-soaked rooftops and the next you’re blasting your way through a synthwave dreamscape. Low-res assets contrast with dynamic lighting to create an otherworldly aesthetic. This is exactly how you take a popular style and stretch it until it becomes something new and cool that others will want to emulate.
My only real criticism of Turbo Overkill is how much the Secret Hunt disrupts the action. You’ll miss upgrades if you can’t find the secret box and key on each level, and sometimes they’re both incredibly well hidden. As exciting as it is to rush through each level clearing anything that stands in your way, things get frustrating as you re-explore empty expanses in search of missing secrets. As much as it might bother some people, I would recommend skipping secrets on your first run just to get the most out of the experience, then replaying levels to find the missing keys. It’s the same problem I have with modern Doom games, for what it’s worth.
Turbo Overkill just launched in Early Access, so the story is incomplete, but it’s pretty polished and bug-free, aside from the occasional enemy stopping moving before they’re dead. You won’t mind much, as they usually don’t live long anyway. Normally, I’d play an Early Access game for a few hours and then put it aside until full launch, but I just can’t get enough of Turbo Overkill, even when it kicks my ass. There’s a free demo available on Steam if you’d rather try before you buy, but trust me: as soon as that chainsaw comes out of your leg and you fly kick a dude that looks like Sid from the cursed action of Toy Story figures, you won’t want to put it down either.
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