Truly, I understand this poor hero's plight.

So, Pressure Overdrive. What we have here is kind of interesting, actually, for reasons outside of the game itself...But I'll come back to that. First, the actual game.

Our premise is pretty simple and straightforward. Our hero goes to take a dip into some nice cool water to beat the summer heat, only to find that his water is gone. Gone and stolen by the evil, clearly corporate in some general sense villains, who are taking all the water for themselves to sell access to it in luxurious spas and such. So he does what any rational person would do when confronted with a vicious summer, no cool water, and an otherwise untouchable corporate opposition.

He gets into a hyper-charged dune buggy, armed to the teeth, and goes to strike down the fiend himself.

Okay, so maybe it's only rational in the world of videogames. The point remains, though, that the basic premise works well. The actual gameplay is equally straightforward, a twin-stick shooter. Left stick drives your dune buggy around, right stick aims the gun. The chief thing that gives it some actual meat is a persistent upgrade system, with cash you earn in the stages themselves. Shoot enemy cars and boats and stuff, earn cash, spend that cash on better gear to do it even more effectively in the next stage. It's a simple loop, but one that works pretty well once you get going.

A thing I do appreciate is that while there's clearly a layer of humor to it, that humor doesn't get...overpowering. The game knows when it's time to just let the jokes get out of the way, and focus on the actual gameplay loop. And while the enemies you fight often have a certain degree of humorous incompetence, I never got the sense that the hero (and thus, by extension, the player) was ever the butt of the joke, or made to feel utterly incompetent. And I mean, yeah, we're not exactly doing War & Peace here, but a simple faith that the player is actually succeeding through skill, as opposed to being slightly less incompetent than everyone else, does matter.

The graphics here, I'm not gonna lie, are pretty basic. That said, there's a reason damn near every critic will tell you style matters more than polygons, and the crisp simplicity of the style does work. And of course, one must consider the context of much of the graphics. Sure, the buggy looks a little basic when you're eyeing it in the garage...But in actual gameplay it was maybe the size of a Hot Wheels car on my screen. There's only so much graphical depth and complexity you can fit into something that small, or even should try to fit in. The environments in play are bright and colorful, and overall in actual practice the game does use its assets well.

That said, okay, few minor problems. Most of them come down to the controls, or rather, how the two halves of this being a twin-stick shooter (that is to say, the left stick and the right stick) interact. So instead of the left stick just magically pointing the nose of the buggy in whichever direction you command, the game has an actual physics engine affecting things. Though it wasn't common, I definitely had a few times where the buggy ended up backwards, and to keep me going in the direction I was pushing, the thing just went in reverse at full speed.

Which would be fine for the most part, aside from losing my cow-catcher on the front grille, but then the gun also obeys a sense of logic. It's placed on the front of your buggy rather than the tippy top, and not only that, it's set up to fire within semi-realistic limitations. Which is to say, you cannot simply turn the gun backwards and fire through your own car to hit the enemies.

This, too, would be fine on its own, aside from some trouble with enemies trailing behind you or otherwise needing to hit sharp angles.

But together...Well, you see where I'm going with this. When my car was backwards, I had a severely limited ability to attack anyone until I could whirl it back around. Which isn't exactly a huge problem in the grand scheme of things, but it feels weirdly frustrating to have this problem thrust upon you when the top-down perspective makes it feel like it shouldn't have happened.

That said...I mean, honestly, it only happened a few times. The other control issue I had was simply that the default gun was a bit too precise, making hitting some of the smaller enemies (who can be rather small) a bit fussy until I had it upgraded some and could just sweep a thick spray of ammo into them. The game's Pressure system, where all the stuff on the buggy (gadgets, guns, the driving itself) all tug down on an ever-refilling pressure gauge, just adds to the trouble at the very start when everything about your gear is small and weak. But get a few upgrades in so you have more Pressure, more firepower, and generally better resources, and the problem largely solves itself. It just feels like they put you a biiit too low on the "zero to hero" track to start you off, is all.


But I said this game is interesting for reasons outside of itself, and that's something I've still got to tackle. So in my time reviewing games here, I've ended up tackling a fair few indie titles. And quite naturally, given the circumstances of development, a lot of these end up being PC first.

It's not so much the mistakes that Pressure Overdrive makes that are interesting, since its mistakes are just a few quibbles in an otherwise solid game. It's the mistakes that it doesn't make. The game makes a specific point of giving you adjustable padding for the UI elements, for instance. It's a twin-stick shooter where the analog controls are clearly well-focused on and executed with intent. This feels like a game where, at the very least, they expected a controller in hand, and probably had some more thought of a console port in mind even in initial development.

And that's kind of an interesting contrast. Particularly in a game that presents itself so...humbly. Because Pressure Overdrive doesn't think it's going to be the next great whatever. This isn't a game pretending to be some grand change to everything you've ever known about videogames, or twin-stick shooters, or even dune buggies. It's just...You know, a fun, solid game in its price point.

And I've got to be honest. I am kind of really happy to get to play a game whose greatest ambition, is just to be a fun game that's worth the $12.99 it asks of me. Definite recommendation.