Another week, another early access boomer shooter and I mean that in the best way. The subject I’m talking about this week is Turbo Overkill, a sci-fi/cyberpunk first-person shooter released into Early Access two weeks ago. It’s being developed by Trigger Happy Interactive, although you would be forgiven for not knowing that since the name of their publisher is overshadowing them a bit, it’s Apogee Entertainment. For those not in the know, they were the developer/publisher of both versions of Rise of the Triad and that initially caught my attention because I thought Apogee was dead for the most part. But enough of that, how’s Turbo Overkill? It’s pretty good so far, although it admittedly isn’t quite ready for primetime just yet.
The main reason I say this is because, in the span of no less than three or so days after release onto Steam, the developer released no less than five separate hotfixes and the game even crashed on me at least once in my time with it. This is the earliest access ass early access game I think I’ve covered in this series and since I’ve started writing in my current capacity. I usually used that as a sign of “let’s wait until this is further along in development before I get to it” the foundation of what’s here so far is so good that I have to keep going to see how it goes.
You play as cyborg mercenary/fixer Johnny Turbo (awesome name), and this is no ordinary day at the office. Your current job is to deal with an out of control A.I. called S.Y.N. that’s creating and infesting the megacity Paradise with techno-organic monstrosities that wouldn’t look too out of place in a David Cronenberg film. Aside from his car’s AI SAMM and the Corpo douche that hired him, this is a story where they let actions speak louder than words. Everything that Johnny does is so effortlessly cool in the cutscenes; from calmly smoking a cigar before whipping out his dual magnums to using his chainsaw leg to saw off a double-barreled shotgun. And smaller stuff like caring for the organ transplant a loved one needs (at least I think that’s what the thing in his car is). It’s all great characterization from a guy that never talks.
The current Early Access release is currently the first of three planned episodes, featuring eight levels. Having played through everything but the last half of level eight, I can safely tell you that this game is a banger and it’s not even done yet. A good chunk of it comes down to the fact that I’m a sucker for good cyberpunk/cyberpunk flavoured pieces of media, but it’s also just a good first-person shooter that takes the mechanical stylings of both previous entries in the FPS canon and merges them with modern sensibilities. Case in point: mobility is key to your survival in Turbo Overkill. It takes the established “Push Forward Combat” that was introduced and refined to perfection by Doom 2016 and Doom Eternal and injects adrenaline into its heart because it felt that those games were somehow too slow.
It does this with the aforementioned Chainsaw leg, which you can use to get a baseball slide that’ possibly dethroned the Titanfall games and Apex Legends for “best baseball slide in an FPS game”. It’s great for clearing out enemies and ties into some neat upgrades you can get later (we’ll get to those). Your other mobility options include a double jump and two air dashes aka your full mobility suite in Doom Eternal minus the Super Shotgun’s Meathook. This game knows it’s about absurd speed and I respect the hell out of it. And this is also leaned into the game’s level design because there’s a bunch of platforming that makes use of that and a wall running ability (shamelessly taken from Ghostrunner) that makes downtime between combat encounters pretty dang cool to get around. This goes doubly for the use of the game’s secret hunting, which uses the aforementioned level design and hides some neat shit all over in the form of cassette tapes for the extra backstory of the day to day life of the setting, hidden keys for upgrade lockers and more.
Guns are also a thing that turbo Overkill has and the arsenal is pretty great so far. It’s got the standard arsenal of FPS weapons with your standard shotguns of the regular and double barrel variety, chaingun, dual submachine guns and rocket launcher as the standard options and a pair of dual magnums as the unique option so far. The reason I say this is because of how it leans into the best part of the weapons in this game: the alternate fire modes. These all have different effects like the magnums having a charge function that does more damage and locks onto five targets, the shotgun having a stun grenade launcher, using one of the submachine guns instead of both for more accuracy as the standard stuff. The more wild options are things like the double-barrel also being a sticky bomb launcher and the chaingun doubling as a goddamn flamethrower. I haven’t seen the Rocket Launcher’s alt-fire yet because I haven’t gotten to the point where it’s available yet. These are all found in the games weapon vendors that are strewn about the levels and all of these and the ability augments go a long way to making combat and traversal more interesting because they throw a lot of both at you. I personally don’t mind because I love both of those in this game and want more.
All in all, Turbo Overkill makes for a good first impression. While I hope it does go through more sprucing up. I do really like what’s on display so far. Between the engaging platforming, interesting exploration and hectic combat, it’s got all of the parts of a throwback adjacent shooter that I like. So I’ll be filing this under the “Make a Full PLaythrough of it when it’s out of Early Access” Drawer for now. Which is the highest compliment I can think of for a game in Early Access.