Available On: Xbox Live Indie Games
Co-Op Mode: Local (4 players)
Price: 80 MS Points ($0.99)
Demo w/ Co-Op Available: Yes
If one were to broadly look at all of the game offerings on XBLIG, the bulk of them could likely be classified under one of a few categories: ‘shmup, twin-stick shooter, or platformer. There are, of course, other genres represented, but with such an overwhelming dearth of games out there that can be counted as competition, how does one stand out? At first glance, Overdriven may be overlooked as yet another ‘shmup amidst a sea of them, but a closer look reveals a few features that makes it rise above.
Overdriven’s story follows much of the standard fare for this genre (you pilot an experimental ship to help fend off a mysterious invading force), and you’ll be dodging bullets/shooting down bad guys to win the day; it’s the rest of the game that’s a little non-standard. To begin with, the ship in Overdriven has a health bar so one bullet that you just happened to overlook or run into won’t end your game. Enemies will also drop health packs that replenish any life lost due to the aforementioned bullets. This particular experimental ship also has an overdrive ability – a concentrated beam of fire that drains your health down to a dangerously low level. This adds an interesting risk/reward situation to the game. Sure, you can dole out a heavy amount of damage to help clear you of a sticky situation, but you’re also in some immediate danger of getting taken out.
Finally, the ship can change color… ok, that definitely sounds/seems unimpressive (and it kind of is), but it does play into another feature of the game. In addition to the dodging and shooting, Overdriven includes some very basic puzzles. Occasionally, you come across a series of colored blocks that bar your path in one-way or another. Like Bejeweled or other such games, lining up a bunch of blocks of the same color will make them disappear. This is where the ship color comes into play. By changing your ship’s color, you change the color of your shots, which in turn will make the colored blocks change to the same. Once the blocks are cleared, your way is no longer barred and you can keep from getting crushed against a wall or possibly open up an area where you’ll discover something else. New levels in Overdriven are unlocked by gathering alien artifacts scattered throughout the stages. Some of these are easy to find, others take more work so having a buddy (or two, or three) along to help cover all of those little areas that may be hard to reach is definitely recommended.
As far as Overdriven’s co-op is concerned, it is fairly straightforward for this particular genre. Each player controls his or her own ship with its own health bar and lives. Should a player run out of lives, it is up to the remaining player(s) to clear the level; in other words, no life stealing. As with many bullet hell shooters, having those extra friends with you for some extra firepower and help makes clearing the levels and tracking down all those alien artifacts a whole lot easier.
Overdriven is the type of game that, the more I play, the more I want to play. In some ways, I can’t help but be reminded of another shooter that I found addicting, despite my slight aversion to games that could be classified as “bullet hells.” It is different/fresh enough to help keep it exciting, and motivates a desire to track down all the alien artifacts, secret items, and tackle the challenges that unlock upon the completion of each level. It may not raise itself to a new plateau of gaming, but it certainly rises above the sea of 'shmups and is worth the $1 price of admission.
The Co-Op Experience: Grab four friends and watch the bullets fly as you fight off invading aliens, hunt down alien artifacts, and maybe find a cow or two
Overdriven is Geared Towards: ‘Shmup fans that want a little more from their shooter