Overclocked! Yeah! Rip off your safety switch - this is gonna be crazy, like an upturned hat filled with jumping murder beans. Rip out your teeth, Grandma - this is gonna get mucky. In fact, Overclocked is as low-octane as point-and-clicks get, turning the engine off and freewheeling downhill toward Lake Atmospherically Placid. This is not an inherently bad thing, and if you can stomach the game’s faults, of which there are two generous handfuls, then Overclocked has some charming, if stilted storytelling on offer.
The storyline is the game’s strongest point. The opening cinematic explains that people are going gun-crazy insane and your work as an innovative psychiatrist allows you to live through their flashbacks. As you hear their stories, you begin to realize they’re all intertwined. The combination of mysterious circumstance, crossed fates and slow revelation recalls the movies Cube and Memento, and the games Silent Hill and I Have No Mouth, And I Must Scream. This game feels like it should be excellent - and it would be, if the developers had any sense of timing, the puzzles felt anything but routine, and the actors weren’t as charismatic as a speech synthesis program.
The main problem with controlling the protagonist psychiatrist is the foggy triggering of events. To get into the flashbacks of the patients, you have to do something that resonates with them. This can involve recreating the darkness of their memory, playing them a recording of another patient’s recollections, or, least satisfying of all, playing them what they just said to you. Even by the seventh or eighth flashback, we weren’t sure exactly how it was working, and the bite-sized nature of the flashbacks makes them unable to accommodate anything more complicated than a single puzzle. The contrast between the unfocussed, easily forgotten aims of the main game and the padded-cell item-combination of the flashbacks is so sharp that it ends up making both look slightly embarrassed.
That Overclocked isn’t better is sad, because there’s a good story being told. Despite the acting and translation, some of the characters are well-written enough to shine though the stilted dialogue. This is a flawed game, as we’re sure you’ve gathered from our predominantly negative tone. But to a forgiving soul, and a point-and-click fan, it definitely has the capacity to serve up some atmospheric entertainment.
May 15, 2008