Game Review: Overland by Finji

 
 

🌟One of my faves!🌟

Overland is a challenging and poignant post-apocalyptic turn-based strategy/puzzle game in which you travel across the wastelands of the country picking up passengers, finding supplies, filling your car up with gas, petting dogs, killing deadly creatures, and trying to survive.


Overland by Finji

Official Description:

Take care of a group of travelers on a post-apocalyptic road-trip across the United States in this turn-based survival game. Fight scary creatures, rescue stranded survivors, and scavenge for supplies like fuel, first aid kits, and weapons. Decide where to go next, whether it’s upgrading this wrecked car, or rescuing that dog. Just remember, there are consequences for every action. Get ready for close calls, dramatic escapes, hard choices, arguing about whether or not that dog gets rescued, and the end of the world.

Features:

– Always keep fuel in the tank. Stay away from the creatures. Be careful. Be quiet.
– Loud sounds attract trouble, and there’s no way you can fight them all. Grab as much gas as you can, rescue that trapped stranger, and get back in the car before it’s too late.
– Travel West, through grasslands, over mountains, across deserts, and to even stranger places. Every level, roadmap, and character is randomly generated, so each trip is new.
– Equip dozens of items, including medkits, shields, axes, potted plants, scavenged armor, and luggage racks.
– Twitch integration lets your viewers join in on your journey, allowing for interactive map voting and swapping out the game’s random characters for your audience, with their chat being translated into in-game dialog.
– A completely new end of the world from Finji (Canabalt, Night in the Woods).

 

More Info:

You can get more info and download the game here on Steam or here on itch.io!

 

Long Review:

I got this game as part of the itch.io Racial Justice bundle, and I’m so glad I did. I might never have heard of it if not for that, and that would’ve been a shame because I’ve been loving it! And the more I play it, the more I find to love.

This is a post-apocalyptic turn-based strategy/puzzle/survival game. Basically, for each “level” (I don’t know what else to call them), you move around a small grid collecting supplies, rescuing people, clearing the road, repairing/filling/equipping your car, etc., but you can only do so much or move so far in one turn, and then the creatures get their turn to try and kill you. And the further you get in the game, the harder it gets.

Overland screenshot showing gameplay with people and creatures on a small, desert grid of land

There are no instructions, but the more you play, the more you start to understand the gameplay, like how to transfer items from one character to another, how each creature moves, how to gauge how many things you’ll be able to do in one turn, etc. Or you can probably find a guide online. This webpage has some great tips. One particularly good thing to know is that YOU CAN RESTART LEVELS (though I don’t remember if that setting is automatically turned on).

Every level is the same type of challenge, but it’s a fun challenge! And the game manages to stay engaging and addictive and still have a bunch of variety and opportunity for choices. It’s a game that will never be exactly the same twice because the element of making decisions about supplies and passengers, the randomized maps, the many locations to choose from, the changing time of day, the randomized strengths of different characters, and the different ways to play creates variability. The game also has achievements/badges, which provides great ideas for different challenges and ways of playing. There’s even kind of a small bit of lore and interesting weirdness to uncover if you hit up the landmarks and scenic overlooks, which you need in-game maps (scenic can be found on the ground, landmark are sometimes already equipped on characters or at trading posts) to get to. So there’s a lot of replay value.

Overland screenshot showing two humans and a dog looking at a crater

But it’s more than just solving the puzzle of each level. Sometimes you have to make hard decisions. Are you willing to steal to get what you need to survive? How about to murder? Are you willing to leave someone behind, or purposely sacrifice them, if it means getting the rest of your group out alive? What do you do if you come across multiple survivors who need rescuing, but you only have space for one in your car?

I also love reading the two-sentence mini bios for characters. (I call them characters, they’re randomized people you move around the grid, and the only thing that affects gameplay is whatever special abilities they have.) I can’t tell you how times I’ve started a new game, quit, new game, etc. just to see more bios. Sometimes they’re silly. Sometimes they’re poignant. That’s kind of how the whole game is. Silly yet poignant. It makes you laugh but also makes you think. Sometimes it makes you sad. I came across one character who was looking for her kid. One who had been living in his car. Some miss things from their old life. Some like the way things are now. There’s even diversity! Again, none of it has any effect on anything, but I still dig it. I’ve come across disabilities mentioned in bios (prosthetic leg, asthma, losing sight in one eye). One presumably female character mentioned having a girlfriend. There are POC and elderly characters (that last one is a bit of an assumption since I’m pretty much basing it on white hair). For a game that’s not character-based, the devs managed to make me care about these little people a heck of a lot.

Overland screenshot showing a human and two dogs at twilight in a snowy environment

The ending was fitting and very in-keeping with the silly yet poignant vibe. It made me feel things, and I wasn’t expecting it to. I loved that the developers gave players a quiet moment to reflect like that.

Also, there are dogs! And they have the cutest names! And you can pet them! And bring them with you! And they can wear backpacks and hats! In my first playthrough, I used one of mine to steal supplies from traders for me since he could move farther in one turn and I could keep the car running for our quick getaway, and it always gave me a good laugh to frantically shout-whisper, “Get in the car, Prinkles!” at my computer as though it were happening in real time and I were really there. It also cracks me up that when you “inspect” items while in a dog’s POV, they’re described from the dog’s POV. It’s useless when you actually want to know what an item does, but funny enough that I’m not even mad. And I love it when they carry knives around in their mouths. I’m so glad they included dogs because it makes the game 100x better. Well, except for when they get killed, of course, but just don’t get them killed and you’re good!

Overland screenshot showing a dog with descriptions of items such as 'pipe: bad stick' and 'stick: best thing in the world'

The graphics are interesting and beautiful, both the gameplay grids and the little cut scenes. There’s so much more to see than what I’ve shared in these few screenshots. I also appreciate the attention to detail, like how the characters wrap their arms around their bodies and shiver when standing around in the cold settings during gameplay. How the time of day shifts with each stop. How there’s weather, like snow and rain.

The music is great too, sometimes tense, sometimes eerie, and really adds to the mood of the game.

Overland screenshot showing cut scene image of an SUV driving through an autumnal forest with a creature in the background

In my first playthrough, for a while I had just one man and one dog. (Well, we had a woman with us at one point, but mistakes were made before I fully understood the game, she got accidentally left behind and possibly murdered, we don’t talk about that.) Eventually we found another man and dog. I decided we’d be thieves but not murderers. I also decided we would either we’d all make it out alive together, or we’d all die together; there was no leaving anyone behind. One of my dogs had a perk that they could take an extra move each turn. One could search dumpsters and such without wasting any action points. One of my men could go unnoticed by creatures. Eventually I learned things, like that you can make assembly lines to pass items from one character to the next without wasting action points, and that you can use some party members to lure creatures away from others. I had a great van equipped with a top rack and a front bumper for ramming protection. I had one good weapon. I would make my plans for each level accordingly. The more I played, the more I got into it and got the hang of it, though it was still difficult. And though I made it to the end with that group, I’m still playing with others to try some different things, to get achievements, and because it’s just so fun and addictive.

The game auto saves, which means you can’t, for example, save, try out a map location, then go back and try out a different location. If you make a bad choice, you’re out of luck. If you just want to see other locations, you have to play again. Part of me finds that frustrating, but part of me appreciates it because it adds a lot of risk, gravity, and tension to the decisions you make about where to go. It makes the game feel more real and dangerous, which is fitting for the post-apoc theme.

The few complaints I’ve seen are that the game is either too easy or too hard, but for me it’s the perfect amount of challenge. And it’s kind of adjustable. If it’s too easy, try playing with a smaller group, or go for some achievements that make the game harder, like completing the game without killing anything, or playing in a timed mode. If it’s too hard, check out some guides and tips online.

Overland screenshot showing the map

I don’t know how long my first run took me because I didn’t get this on a platform that keeps track, but it had to be at least ten hours. And I’ve already played for many more since then.

There is just so much interesting stuff in this game, so many ways to solve the levels, so much variety, so much opportunity to choose how you want to play and even what kind of person you want your team to be. Overland combines humor, poignancy, and fun, challenging gameplay in the perfect way, not to mention the beautiful graphics and attention to detail. This is going down as one of my favorite games, and I absolutely recommend it!

Overland screenshot of a dog carrying a knife in his mouth
How could I not with such good doggos? ;-)

Short Review:

– Fun, challenging gameplay
– Variation and choices = never the same twice
– Funny and poignant
– Diversity among randomized characters
– Doggos that can wear hats and backpacks
– Beautiful art style
– Attention to detail, including weather and time of day
– Overall just fantastic!

 
 
 
 

Talk to me!

Have you played Overland?
Has a game ever given you unexpected feels?

 

Follow me for more!

Twitter   |   Bloglovin   |   Feedly   |   WordPress   |   Goodreads   |   Pinterest   |   Tumblr

 
 
 
[shared_counts]
 
 
 

Your Thoughts

 

10 thoughts on “Game Review: Overland by Finji

I'd love if you'd share your thoughts, too!

 

Reading your comments makes me a very happy blogger!

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

 
  1. Greg

    This sounds great. I haven’t heard of it but I love post apoc, obviously, and the look of the game is pretty neat. I love the sound of the bios. I can see obsessively reading those too! And the moral choices. I think that’s what I love so much about games like this- how they make you think…

    And doggos! Bonus!!

    I gotta get this.

    1. Kristen Burns

      You should try it! It’s so great! I didn’t expect it to make me think or feel or get so attached to the little characters when I started. Let me know if you try it and like it!

  2. Roberta R.

    “and it always gave me a good laugh to frantically shout-whisper, “Get in the car, Prinkles!” at my computer as though it were happening in real time and I were really there.”
    😂

    Sure games have come a long way lately, what with the casual diversity and the moral choices and all the little touches.

    1. Kristen Burns

      I’m glad someone appreciates my humor, haha.

      I know, right?! You know I’m all about that disability rep, so I was so excited to see that since it’s almost always forgotten when it comes to discussions or representations of diversity!

  3. Mary Kirkland

    My daughter who is 29 has played games on the Playstation and other devices which I cannot for the life of me remember what they are called. I haven’t played any games on these devices since they first came out a long time ago. I remember going to the arcade playing Pac Man. lol I feel so old.

    1. Kristen Burns

      I play everything on the computer! I was never big into consoles. I don’t think I’ve really been to game arcades, only the more modern ticket winning kinds, but the Pac Man ones sound like they’d have been fun!

    1. Kristen Burns

      I mean, you do have to get gas in this game lol. But it’s about solving the puzzle of how to get to the gas, get it back to your car, fill the car, and escape without anyone getting killed. So idk, maybe you’d like it!