In a far dystopian future, an AI named Syn has gone berserk and taken over Paradise City. Sick of humanity and their weak flesh and reliance on cybernetic enhancements, Syn has begun corrupting the masses and bringing them under his all-seeing holographic eye, merging flesh and technology into murderous abominations. Unfortunately for Syn, Johnny motherfuckin’ Turbo is back in town: and he’s on the job. After a vicious attack left him mangled, he underwent heavy Vader-style augmentation to stay alive and get back into the bounty hunting game. Now with his range of augmentations and devastating weaponry, he is taking on Syn to make enough cash to escape his shady past. All he has to do now is purge the many cores of Syn, with a whole horde of converted monstrosities and deadly bounty hunters between him and his goal.
Welcome to Paradise.
I’m usually skeptical of the way games describe themselves but when I saw that THI described Turbo Overkill as a Blade Runner meets DOOM hellscape, I 100% agreed after playing the first episode. The game is only in Early Access right now, which means at the time of writing only the first of three episodes are available. The first episode contains eight levels (or sectors, as they’re referred to in-game), and they are set in a dark gritty cityscape lit up by blinding neon lights and signage and the occasional explosion. Turbo Overkill looks gorgeously modern and yet still maintains that retro gloss of an art style. Screenshots don’t do it much justice; you need to see it in motion to get the real feel. Early Access usually means a lot of jank and weirdness but I didn’t run into any issues until I got to the Ascension level and promptly fell through the floor and out of the game boundaries multiple times in the sewers. Luckily a level restart took care of that. More importantly, the framerate is super-smooth and never dropped on me once, which I say is essential to an incredibly fast-paced game like this.
Some might even say it is too fast-paced. Johnny Turbo is aptly named because boy can this dude hustle. You’ll need every ounce of speed you can muster because even on the lowest difficulty you will find yourself dead in an instant if you even think of slowing down. While the first level or two eases you into it, you will quickly come to realize how frantic and chaotic the running and gunning gameplay is. Just standing around and taking the time to aim is a non-starter. Not only will you need to blast these punks on the go, but you will also need to learn how to do it while using Johhny’s secret weapon: the Chegg. The Chegg is the name for Johnny’s leg chainsaw augment. This is a crucial ability in your arsenal and you will find yourself using it incessantly. Holding the slide button unsheathes your chainsaw and propels you forward until you let go or hit a wall, damaging everyone in your path. The faster you move the more damage you can deal with the saw. Sliding down the many ramped surfaces found in the environment speed you up for even more carnage (eat your heart out, Tony Hawk). Being aware of your surroundings is a must since the game likes to mess with you by having explosives lying around that you can set off by sliding into them and even exploding enemies later on that will likely insta-kill you.
Johnny’s goal is to blast through each level to purge the Syn core at the end and to do that he’ll need more than just a chainsaw leg. There are five different guns available as of this writing; the twin Magnums, dual Uzis, the Waster, the Boomer, and the Twincendiary (In the words of famed business mogul/arms dealer Jean-Baptiste Emmanuel Zorg: “Mah favorite!”). Each weapon has a cool alt-fire option that must be unlocked through purchasing from the gun vending machines in the levels. The ZF-1...I mean, the Twincendiary is a heavy machine gun when used normally, but when the alt-fire is activated it becomes a flamethrower: perfect for chainsaw sliding and toasting unfortunate enemies at the same time. Johnny’s ace in the hole is a powerful lock-on rocket launcher hidden in his cybernetic hand but you won’t get that until much later and it requires a cooldown between uses. You can equip Johnny’s head, arm, and leg slots with augments to gain passive perks but they aren’t easy to come by. Some levels contain a Teratek chest that contains an augment but you also need to find the hidden key to unlock it. Other than that, you can purchase some from the vending machines but they are pricey. Low on cash? Blasting enemies seems to be the only way to get money so far. As is tradition with these types of FPS, health, ammo, and armor pickups can be found everywhere and you never need to worry about reloading clips.
If you’re looking to be a completionist, each sector contains three hidden cassette tapes and three tech-chips to search out. Finding all three tapes in a level unlocks a secret level. The ones I’ve played so far are based around a challenge, from a simple survive x amount of horde waves or outrunning a giant flaming wall of death, killing enemies on the run to buy yourself a little extra time. Collecting all of a level’s tech-chips unlocks special game modifiers that can be turned on or off from the main menu. The first one I unlocked turns on Big Head Mode, while another one constantly depletes your health unless you keep on killing a steady stream of enemies. There are supposed to be more available at launch, with more being added as game development continues. Turbo Overkill also tracks the percentage of enemies killed and the time it took you to complete the level. Go get ‘em, tiger.
Mouse and keyboard are definitely recommended for this game. I tried using a controller but not only does it seem to not be fully supported, it simply does not allow you enough dexterity for the multitasking you will need to do to be able to spin and shoot while sliding through groups of enemies. One of my biggest gripes is the platforming parts. Not too long into the episode, you gain boots that allow you to wall run on specially lit surfaces. The angle you need to hit them at is very specific, else you will just slide down the wall and need to run all the way back up again. It gets even more complicated further in, with one area requiring a whole lot of wall running chained into double jumping and double air dashes just to reach the top of the area and into a group of enemies that may just kill you and cause you to start all over again. Oh and did I mention that some of the wall running surfaces have damaging electric circles on them that you need to avoid? Fun times. I’m in the camp that firmly believes frenetic first-person shooters DO NOT need platforming, especially when the movement speed is so fast that it is a hindrance to delicate movements.
I had a really fun time with Turbo Overkill’s first episode and I can’t wait for more. Mileage may vary from person to person but I sunk around 7 hours into it and I found it to run quite well. For the price of access I think it’s worth getting as-is, as long as you’re conscious of the fact that you will be probably waiting til the end of the year before you get the fully finished version. If the rest of the game manages to keep the energy of the first episode then you may be looking at a new classic addition to the genre.
*Note: A copy of the game was provided for the purpose of the review.
Final Score: 7.5/10
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