Retro boomer shooters with a twist have existed for a while but very few feel as close to something like the outstanding Doom Eternal than Turbo Overkill. It’s a mixture of retro graphics from the PlayStation 1 era and smoothness of current generation improvements.
Stepping into the shoes of Johnny Turbo, you traverse a cyberpunk city being ravaged by Syn. The formidable AI seeks to take over the world at large but has you to deal with. You’re on a mission to stop the infection of Syn in Paradise with only yourself as a one man army.
Your own AI companion, S.A.M.M., assists you with objectives and also aids with travel between levels. A shorter story with the cyberpunk dystopia you want but contained in an arena shooter almost seems too perfect a recipe.
While I won’t spoil the story, you will enjoy the traversal of this low poly world with your wit and chainsaw leg.
Like most boomer arena shooters, movement is your biggest asset. Sliding is one of the biggest mechanics and allows you to mow down smaller, weaker enemies with ease. Your double jump is a bit weak and can’t reach places you would think so it’s kind of a letdown in that regard.
Weapons and even your body full of cybernetics can be upgraded and augmented for more damage, more ammo capacity, alternate firing modes and more. There are vendors in the form of vending machines with Bossa nova music that you can purchase augmentations, ammo, upgrades, and stimpacks from.
There is a fair amount of platforming and traversal of areas you’ve been to that require you to advance. Scattered throughout levels are collectibles and clearing out every enemy you encounter will lead you to a fully completed run. These elements alone for a blind play through are perfect so you can master your craft and burn through enemies.
No, nothing is wrong with your graphical settings, that’s just the way it looks. It’s low poly aesthetic carries the dystopian future even further with it’s color palette and lighting. Pixel art integrated with the low polygon count definitely hits different when you’re killing enemies and gore is everywhere.
That could almost be a warning label on it’s own. This game is VERY gory but it doesn’t stay on the screen that long so you won’t have to worry about clutter when running through areas again. Additionally, the HUD is very non intrusive since it’s minimal in almost every sense.
Each area is different enough that they’re all memorable like the underground subway, the boating docks, etc. All of the time spent in these areas and becoming familiar with them is easy due to how much detail is put into each level of design. Some spots are scary and some are technologically beautiful, that’s why this game has the charm it does.
As you may have already guessed, the music is hardcore cyberpunk synth wave. The hard rock genre does also appear and can almost make you second guess what game you may be playing. It’s an homage to the games of old and even new unapologetically.
Grunts, body chunks hitting the ground, and the sound of firing weapons all have a great and satisfying feeling. Enemies also sound like they came straight from the past with grunts and animal roars.
There is voice acting as well that helps move the story along and provide you hints of where to go next. Vending machines also have funny dialogue but have a limited number of lines that you’ll hear, so you may hear them more than once in the same transaction. Outside of that small detail, it’s a great audio design to accompany the great gameplay and setting.
There are a myriad of difficulty modes you can choose from so anyone can join in on the fun and hone their skills to do harder difficulties. One issue I feel a lot of arena shooters suffer from is overstaying their welcome with levels too long or too much platforming. Turbo Overkill doesn’t suffer from this and is short enough that you can beat it in within a few hours.
Love letters like this are rarely seen and I hope this gets more exposure since it’s barrier to entry is low. Acquiring new upgrades and learning new strategies is the most fun you’ll have with very few downsides if any at all. For the most part, this is a complete and fun game that scratches that itch for something outside of Doom Eternal.
Turbo Overkill launches via early access on April 22nd, a price point is set at $19.95 and the game will be on Steam. A full release is later planned on PC (via Steam, GOG, and the Epic Games Store), Xbox One, Xbox Series X|S, Switch, PlayStation 4, and PlayStation 5 sometime in 2022.
Turbo Overkill was previewed on PC using a copy provided by Apogee Entertainment. You can find additional information about Niche Gamer’s review/ethics policy here.