Turbo Overkill Early Access Review: Cyberpunk Chainsaw Man
Turbo Overkill is the type of game your parents were afraid you were playing when you were a kid. It's a loud, gratuitously violent, dark look at a potential cyberpunk future. Despite feeling like the type of thing parents might want banned in the early '90s, it's an Early Access shooter full of potential that grabbed me from the beginning.
While Turbo Overkill takes many queues from modern arcade shooters, specifically Doom: Eternal, it doesn't feel like developer Trigger Happy Interactive's influences stopped there. Turbo Overkill takes lessons from a wide range of titles like Hotline Miami, Left 4 Dead, and the original BioShock that manages to be a Frankenstein of sorts. For the most part, it juggles its mechanics and systems well.
Its fast-paced, aggressive gameplay is certainly not for everyone but it's a fantastic way to spend your time if you've been a fan of any modern arcade shooters of the past 10 years. Even in Early Access, Turbo Overkill has a lot to offer and will only get better as Trigger Happy Interactive continues to work on it.
Turbo Overkill Early Access Review: Cyberpunk Chainsaw Man
On the surface, Turbo Overkill seems like a pretty straightforward cyberpunk-themed run-and-gun shoot-em-up. After completing the tutorial level, however, its depth becomes clear.
Levels are huge and sprawling with hidden secrets and paths scattered about, giving you the option to be an unstoppable freight train of bullets and chainsaws (don't worry, we'll get back to the chainsaws in a bit) or a methodical detective investigating every nook and cranny available to them hidden just off the main path.
It's pretty refreshing to see a game in this mostly linear genre be full of truly secret optional areas worth poking around for. The environments are well designed and pique your interest without hitting you over the head with the fact you might be missing a thing or two if you leave some stones unturned.
The rewards for exploration range from finding collectibles (that don't ultimately add up to much) to accessing new weapons before they're introduced through the main path. For me, that was the true goal of exploring: the variety of weapons is excellent and their abilities are, for the most part, satisfying.
Turbo Overkill features a lot of guns. They're your typical FPS finds from shotguns to rifles and pistols, but their alternate fire modes are where they shine. Shotgun blasts can be saved and stacked on one another, pistols can turn into insta-kill, motion-tracking death machines, and rifles can be duel-wielded to double damage or picked up one at a time for higher accuracy. The list goes on, and there isn't a single weapon that doesn't have its place in combat.
Combat is fast-paced as you shoot your way through waves and waves of horrific cyberpunk monstrosities that have taken over sections of the city. Movement speed is high and each gun packs a real punch, but the true cherry on top is the player character's chainsaw leg.
The chainsaw leg is used anytime you slide, which gives you a burst of speed while you cut down absolutely everything in your path. As you explore the world, you're able to buy body augment upgrades, but the very best ones increase the power of your chainsaw leg and allow you to drain enemy health and armor for yourself. Essentially, most of the upgrades are meant to encourage you to be aggressive with the chainsaw.
It gives combat a real sense of momentum and brutality that sets Turbo Overkill apart from the likes of other popular arcade shooters. Every so often, I would run into a tough room of enemies that would take me a few tries to get through, all before realizing that I could forget shooting my way out because I'm essentially a cyberpunk Chainsaw Man.
Perhaps the best thing I can say about Turbo Overkill is that it feels packed to the brim with ideas. From the chainsaw leg to the inspired level design to its interesting alternate weapon modes, the game keeps you guessing and continues to impress. The one thing that stands in the way of it being one of the best in the genre is its difficulty and poor checkpointing.
I died a lot playing on the recommended difficulty. At first, it seems as if Turbo Overkill is going for a Hotline Miami-type system where death is frequent, but if you have a plan, you can overcome any obstacle. That quickly fades away once you begin to realize how infrequently the game dishes out checkpoints.
I spent a lot of time fighting through a few rooms of manageable enemies before getting to a troublesome room and dying within a few seconds of setting foot inside. After repeating that a few times, frustration become one of Turbo Overkill's strongest foes.
Paired with some clunky insta-death platforming sections, the checkpoints still need work and stick out a bit from an otherwise well-polished experience. If the checkpoints were better, the difficulty might be more manageable since you're back in the fight a few seconds after going down. But as it stands now, there's plenty of frustration to be found in the later levels because of it.
The game does have a story, but it takes a pretty major backseat to the gameplay. From what I could tell, a rogue A.I. is spreading a mind virus throughout the city and you're there to stop it. It's such a minor thing, however, that it hardly feels worth mentioning other than to say Turbo Overkill doesn't have much for anyone looking for a great cyberpunk story full of lore and meaning.
Turbo Overkill Early Access Review — The Bottom Line
- Fast-paced, exciting combat arenas.
- Excellent variety of weapons and enemies to use them on.
- Stylish cyberpunk visuals.
- Chainsaw legs.
- Sharp difficulty curve with no real solution other than turning the difficulty down.
- Poor checkpoint system.
Everything about Turbo Overkill suggests it's a game to watch closely. The problems I had with it seem like the kinds of things Trigger Happy Interactive will be able to fix before it's done cooking, but if they're neglected could be major roadblocks in the way of a truly great shooter.
While it's story-light, it's chainsaw-heavy, and I think that more than makes up for the cyberpunk aesthetic being nothing more than window dressing for a brutal run-and-gun shooter. If you can get past the issues listed above, then a recommendation is easy, even before its official launch. Check out the demo if you think it's up your alley.
[Note: Trigger Happy Interactive provided the copy of Turbo Overkill used for this Early Access review.]