On a dark, starry night, Veronica Villensy is out on deck aboard a ship with her unsuspecting husband, Malcolm. After beckoning him to peer over the side of the ship to catch the view of some supposed dolphins swimming down below, Veronica takes the opportunity to send him to a watery grave beneath the waves. The opening of Overboard! certainly makes quite a splash. In most cases, when it comes to detective adventures, you're usually the one trying to figure out just who the dastardly culprit behind the crime is. But in developer Inkle's devilishly witty whodunnit, you're the villain who's trying to get away the murder.
Set on the SS Hook vessel in 1935 that's bound for New York, you play as the conniving Veronica who schemes on bagging some dosh from her dear hubby's life insurance policy. Naturally, this means that she has to grab her spouse quite literally by the bollocks and bid him farewell for good in the hopes of being able to start a new life comfortably in America. Now that Malcolm is sleeping with the fishes, you've got to try and get away with it the following day, that's just eight hours to weasel your way out of the crime and avoid suspicion.
Staying out of Sing Sing
As a visual novel that plays out over the course of a matter of hours, every choice you make truly counts. After awakening in your cabin the morning after you've done the wicked deed, you'll be presented with a variety of different responses and actions you can take. Each and every run presents you with opportunities to uncover more about the people aboard the ship and determine by what means you can get away with your crime scot-free. There are different areas of the ship you can go to, and every person on the SS Hook runs by their own schedule - which you'll come to learn as you play - and how you handle each encounter can help or hinder your case. Once the clock has run out, you'll be summoned to the ship's restaurant in a Cluedo-like fashion to determine just what happened to your husband.
On my very first day in Overboard, I mosey on over to the cabin of a fellow passenger by the name of Clarissa. By listening at the door, I learn that she's crying - just what has caused this fit of tears? When I converse with Clarissa, I make the discovery that there's some kind of relationship between this woman and my husband, and that she claims to have witnessed him falling off the ship. Hear that? Opportunity is knocking. By feigning ignorance and expressing concern for my hubby's whereabouts to Clarissa and everyone else on board, a conclusion is reached at the end of the day and everyone. The consensus is that my husband has committed suicide, and a newspaper report reflects the conclusion the passengers and crew came to, as well as the fate of Veronica. Now it's all well and good that I'm not implicated in his death and I've avoided Sing Sing, but here's the catch: A suicide means no insurance money. Clearly lying isn't going to be enough. I need to frame someone… and Clarissa seems like a good patsy to take the blame.
No loose ends
After a few more tries, I manage to pin the murder on poor Clarissa and it's all sunshine and roses… for a moment. Just when I think I've gotten the money and my freedom, Veronica receives a threatening letter from a passenger. Someone knows what I did and now they're blackmailing me for a cut of the insurance. Now I've got loose ends to contend with too. With every day that passes, more opportunities are presented to me and I'm more and more determined to make every minute count. The pace and satisfying loop of Overboard make it a fantastic game to pick and play in short bursts, but I find myself struggling to put it down.
Every run leads me to new conclusions and discoveries, and I can't help but ponder how and who I can use to successfully get away with the crime and ensure I'll get that sweet, sweet insurance money without any trouble. From planting incriminating evidence in other people's cabins, to doing a spot of blackmailing of my own, and even having a scandalous romantic tryst in my quarters, there's a wealth of interesting choices to try out and uncover each day. Inkle's adventure keeps me entirely hooked with its witty writing, enticing choice-driven story, coupled with helpings of dark humor, and its stylish hand-drawn art style. Highly replayable and addictively entertaining, Overboard has quickly found its way into my favorite games of 2021 so far. I'm still trying to plot out my next strategy to help Veronica get away with it, and I can't wait to see what happens next.
Overboard! is out out now on PC, Nintendo Switch and iOS.