Space Overlords Review

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This introduction has already been written once. In the original version I discussed how conflicted I felt about the game, that the final score seemed so muddled in my mind and even as I wrote the original introduction I had no idea what the final score would be. After more playtime I decided to do a complete rewrite. It’s clear to me now what this game is, who it’s for, and that’s certainly not me. It’s filled with mechanical issues, but the game has a great deal of redeeming qualities that another person may find very enjoyable. It’s a very divisive game, and objectively, deserves a higher score then maybe I would personally give it if I was recommending it to a friend. Space Overlords is the first game I have reviewed that has left me very divided.

After I played the first level, I expected the game to have me hooked. You play as an overlord, a giant creature that has been trapped by one of the other overlords so they can conquer the universe. You get free and after choosing between the handful of overlords, each with their own unique statistics, you go from planet to planet across the universe fighting enemy forces. The level drops you onto the planet, which is fully 360 degrees meaning you can walk and rotate around the whole planet. You have a time limit to destroy a specified amount of buildings/structures/defenses. It was a great and enjoyable start. But after a few levels, I started to notice some issues. The controls are simply, two buttons connected to attacks, one to a special attack, a dash button and the dpad to use various power ups such as strength and dash boost. That’s essentially all there is to the game. Each planet tries its best to be unique, some have floors that damages you on touch, others have roaming damage spheres and other planets only allow you to destroy buildings in a specific way such as only using your special attack. Each planet is a variation of these mechanics. The first few planets feel fun, and if it wasn’t for the issues I will discuss later, I wouldn’t be too bothered by the repetition. It’s varied enough that while not special, each level doesn’t feel boring.

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It has to be handed to the developers though, there is certainly a great deal of content for its low price. There’s an insane amount of planets and universe to fight on, there are a couple of extra campaigns that are not part of the main story, a level editor and a multiplayer mode. There’s content galore here, more than you would ever expect. If after reading this review you think it still sounds enjoyable than you will be sinking a massive amount of time into Space Overlords. Obviously not as much as a modern RPG, but more than you could ever hope for from an indie game. If there is one positive to be taken from this review then it’s this; if cost-effective, developers should offer as much content as possible to their audience. But that leads to an old age saying in our lexicon; quality over quantity. That’s certainly applicable here, gamers have been arguing over what’s better for years and I am not here to reignite that debate. But for this particular game, we need to touch on the topic. Sure, there’s plenty to see and do here, and if you are someone who enjoys this game then you’re going to disagree with the diatribe I am about to go on, but for those of you interested, please read on.

Quality is more important than quantity, to me, and this is where the game falls. For me, playing 10 hours of a mediocre game is worse than playing 2 hours of a fantastic game. Space Overlords mechanics are annoying. The roaming damage spheres are way too powerful, one small touch can make the difference between winning and losing a level. And when there’s 3 on a planet the level becomes incredibly frustrating. Earlier I mentioned that some levels have dangerous grounds, so naturally you will want to stick to the rocks to avoid the ground. Well except when levels spawn you in lava and you lose up to 1/4th of your health trying to reach the rocks. The spawning isn’t random, someone chose to do this. So you spawn in lava, lose health, get unlucky and get hit by a roaming sphere and suddenly you are close to death. It’s not hard, it’s unfair. With the rocky structure of the planet and the damage spheres, it can become easy to get stuck between a rock and a hard place. The game could really have benefited from a jump mechanic to make it easier to navigate the planets. Such a simple mechanic would have made such a big difference. On top of all of that getting hit can cause you to stop mid-attack, so it’s easy to see why an individual may become irritated playing this game. I sunk a great deal of hours into Space Overlords and I couldn’t complete it, not because there was so much content, but because it was unfair.

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Maybe this sounds appealing to you, and if I am honest I can see why. That’s what made it so hard to score this, for some readers, this may be the challenge they need. Technically and graphically its sound. It really is just the mechanics. If you for some reason sound interested in the game, even this far into the review, then it’s a must buy and you will certainly get value for money. But I have a feeling that’s not a very big audience. The most frustrating part is this game could easily be in the 8’s or 9’s if it wasn’t for the mechanics. Their foundations are solid, a decent game loop, and a fun little game to play, causing havoc and mayhem across the universe. It’s just got this weak side that drags the whole experience down. I wanted to like it more than I actually did. There are some positive to find here, the large amount of content, specific challenges to complete a level, the chaos and mayhem of roaming around a 360 degree planet. Fighting the enemies are fun, they are varied and different overlords actually feel like they make a difference. The game lets you switch between which you use at will, so you never feel confined to an overlord not suited to a particular level. But it can be hard to focus on the positives when everything else is messy.

I mentioned throughout that space overlords left me divided. That may be the best way describe the game. Half of the games features are good, but the other half… not so much! I think it’s only fair the final score reflects that. It’s just slightly better than mediocre. With some time, the game could be great. However will the developers take what seems, from a quick look, the similar criticisms online and make changes? Who knows? I would love to jump back in a few months down the line and see if anything changes. Either way, it doesn’t change the here and now. I wish the score could be higher, I really do.

rating-6

REVIEW CODE: A complimentary Sony Playstation 4 code was provided to Brash Games for this review. Please send all review code enquiries to editor@brashgames.co.uk.

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