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Video Game / Overload

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"Autonomous operators are hostile. Repeat: Auto-ops are hostile."
Safety protocols be damned.
Overload is a 3D First-Person Shooter (alternatively, 6DOF shooter, for "six degrees of freedom"), and a spiritual successor to the classic Descent games. In fact, the studio that developed it—Revival Productions—comprises many of the original developers of Descent, including Parallax Software founders Matt Toschlog and Mike Kulas.

It is 2118. Various mining outposts deep within Saturn's moons have sent out distress calls regarding autonomous mining operators ("auto-ops") that have suddenly and mysteriously gone rogue, attacking any personnel present. You have been tasked with clearing the outposts of hostile operators and rescuing any survivors. Your tools: your wits, and a highly versatile gunship called the Kodachi, which is capable of equipping any weapons you find in the field.

Overload was first released on May 31, 2018, on Steam; a DRM-free release followed on June 5, 2018, on GOG Dot Com. Its website is here and its Steam and store pages can be found here and here, respectively.


New weapon! Picked up [Tropes]

  • A.I. Is a Crapshoot: Played with twice over:
    • The overall villains are three AI entities that have deemed the universe theirs to command, and do so by destroying and assimilating every civilization and race they come across - and humanity is next.
    • This would normally mean that your AI buddy, who turns out to have been carrying one of the hostile AIs the entire time, would turn on you, but she stays an ally through and through, and manages to seal off the hostile AI within the ship she controls.
  • Apocalyptic Log: There are audio logs that can be found throughout the levels, acting as diaries for the human workers on the facility before the auto-ops turned hostile and attacked them. A great deal are from personnel who you can't find in the Cyropods.
  • Assimilation Plot: Towards the end, it turns out Kantor's paranoia and desire to declare an empty frontier independent of his superiors was influence from an alien AI, which has been slowly influencing him. Once through the teleportation gate he's constructed, Kantor is subsumed bit by bit, until he becomes the AI itself - and the AI is part of three, who crush and absorb every race and civilization they come across - by the time they've found humanity, they claim the number is in the trillions. They try to drain the player's morale by claiming they've already assimilated the Solar System - in reality, they've only gotten to Ymir.
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  • Big Damn Fire Exit: Much like Descent, most levels feature a reactor and the player must find and escape through an emergency exit.
  • Boss Warning Siren: Before every single one of the bosses, accompanied by a not-at-all encouraging MASSIVE INCOMING THREAT! message.
  • Bullet Time: The game has the Time Bomb, a bomb that slows down time temporarily... except in multiplayer.
  • Call-Back: The first and last level do not feature an explosion you need to outrun - the first time, you're teleported out, and the second, you have to leave before the instantaneous explosion.
  • Catastrophic Countdown: Destroying the reactor or the boss causes a countdown, as the map starts to shake violently and explosion sounds start to echo throughout the level.
  • Charged Attack: Thunderbolt is a weapon that features charging as an essential mechanic.
  • Check-Point Starvation: The game has no checkpoints on its own, but one can save most of the time. The game also automatically saves between levels, but if the player doesn't save manually, dying will take them back to the beginning of the level.
  • Critical Existence Failure: Downplayed. An additional "low armor" message will appear if the player ship's armor drops below 50, but it otherwise performs as per normal until all its armor is depleted, at which point, you explode.
  • Distress Call: The plot begins with many of the bases on Saturn's moons sending out a distress signal as the auto-ops have turned hostile.
  • Equipment Upgrade: All of the weapons and the ship can be upgraded with upgrade points, mostly found inside the levels.
  • Every 20 or 25 Kills: Challenge Mode grants a weapon upgrade every 25 or 20 kills, depending on the mode (Infinite or Countdown respectively).
  • Exactly What I Aimed At: The Nova missile is basically the Smart Missile from Descent, releasing several homing plasma blobs when destroyed.
  • Game-Breaking Bug: The first release version tended to have doors that would get stuck, especially when saving or loading or when trying to make it to the exit of the level in level 11 (Tethys Lab), where the wide door in particular caused problems.
  • Game Mod: An official level editor is in the works.
  • Human Popsicle: Survivors of the facilities are stored in cryotubes.
  • Idiosyncratic Difficulty Levels: Imported from Descent: Trainee, Rookie, Hotshot, Ace, and Insane, and a new difficulty level, Insane+.
  • Insane Troll Logic: The shield generators that unlock secret doors or open force fields when destroyed actually lock a secret door in level 11, more precisely the entrance to the fourth secret level, which is unlocked by default.
  • Invisible Monsters: Phantom, the (mostly) invisible version of the Scorpion that attacks you by clawing on your ship.
  • Late to the Tragedy: The facilities you visit have already been attacked by hostile auto-ops, who have killed the majority of the human workers.
  • Literal Metaphor: The Time Bomb is both an actual bomb and slows down time.
  • Load-Bearing Boss: The bosses cause a countdown much like the reactor. The only exception is the last of the three bosses.
  • Mascot Mook: The Shredder (formerly and still internally known as Blades) was more or less the poster auto-op prior to the game's release, appearing in most promotional art for the game. Post-release, the Scorpion seems to have succeeded the Shredder in this regard and plays this trope straight on a level equal to the Medium Lifter from Descent II.
  • The Maze: Many of the levels have labyrinthine layouts.
  • Mecha-Mooks: All your enemies are robots - even the alien ones.
  • Mega-Corp: Juno Offworld Automation.
  • Monster Closet: Carried over from Descent.
  • Mook Maker: The auto-op fabricators, which create an endless amount of additional auto-ops until destroyed... if they don't happen to be protected by a shield.
  • Mythology Gag:
    • Some of the audio logs mention PTMC, the mega corporation of Descent, by name.
    • Overload uses the exact same sound effects used in Descent to indicate the Invulnerability powerup being picked up and expiring.
  • One-Hit Polykill: The Thunderbolt, when upgraded to Thunderbolt+, fires charged shots that can pass through several auto-ops.
  • Outrun the Fireball: The exit sequence features you flying away from an explosion that is dangerously approaching you.
  • Palette Swap: Super auto-ops, which have a red glow compared to the original variants and have more powerful weapons.
  • Pinball Projectile: The Reflex fires plasma orbs that can bounce off walls. Upgrades to it will cause the bolts to bounce back at enemies up to a certain angle away.
  • Ramming Always Works:
    • Your ship has a smash attack that can be used to attack enemies by ramming them. It is even stronger when you are invincible.
    • The Shredder embodies this trope, smashing its two slicer hands together before charging you at high speed while emitting a distinctive screeching noise. If it hits you, it will hurt.
    • The various kamikaze drones also ram into the player and detonate their load, in increasingly nuclear ways.
  • Scifi Writers Have No Sense Of Scale: Played with. It's outright stated in the opening cutscene that it takes two years to get to Saturn from the inner planets, and yet has you responding to a distress signal that was only sent a few days ago. This serves as the second clue that you weren't sent from the inner planets. Mostly averted everywhere else - even FTL teleportation across the universe and back takes 16 days.
  • Secret Level: Found via secret portals hidden somewhere in the level.
  • Self-Destruct Mechanism: In true Descent style, each outpost is wired to blow if its power reactor is sufficiently damaged - it's the only way to get rid of the insane auto-ops.
  • Send in the Search Team: Plot begins by you entering the Ymir base to figure out the cause of the distress signal you received.
  • Shout-Out: The initial release used the afterburner sound from Raptor: Call of the Shadows to indicate the Iberia approaching an outpost.
  • Sniper Rifle: The Driller is a weird, full-auto variant - it makes highly accurate hitscan shots. In a game that lacks zoom-in, it's the closest thing to a sniper rifle - save the Lancer.
  • Spiritual Successor: To Descent. Many of the people behind that game also worked on Overload.
  • Unnecessarily Creepy Robot: Basically all of the enemies. Why do mining auto-ops have to look like this?
  • Violation of Common Sense: Using the smash attack to damage or destroy enemies will give you a small armor boost.
  • Where It All Began: The first and last levels are Ymir Station, before and after an alien infestation.
  • Wake-Up Call Boss: The first boss has two phases, unlike the rest of the bosses that have just one, and even has Devastator missiles for weaponry, even if they're fired only rarely.


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