Thoughts on Overbowed (Steam Next Fest 2022 Demo)

Okay, I’ll admit it. You’ve shaken it out of me. Sometimes games just appeal to me because they look and sound really cool. But c’mon! It’s a visual medium. We look with our eyes and interpret potential with them. If something clicks with us based on aesthetic pleasure, why fight it? Overbowed was one such case—the simple, cartoon-y pixels, the chiptune beats, and the smooth green color palette. Gameplay was just set dressing to the love I developed within seconds.

Quick structure disclaimer: Given this (and all the others) is only a demo, I won’t be too in-depth with my coverage, and will only reflect on the good and the bad. No overly long personal history or filibuster. No nonsense. That said, I will provide a synopsis for the game below.

Game Summary

Explore a kingdom overrun by evil magic as you fight foes with your own magical bow.

Steam page

The Good

Goodness, this game is pretty, huh? Such marvelous mixtures of green and teal and shades of brightness. How dreary and dark this game is, yet mysterious and inviting. Though it has the aesthetic of old-time adventure titles, it has the pristine hindsight of time to spruce up the finer details. A simple, game-y Bob Ross painting with highlights and an almost regal theme. I’d wager it’s no happy accident.

Not quite worth the same superlatives, the soundtrack also does an adequate job of settling the player into the world. Adventurous and upbeat, it sort of counteracts how, all things considered, creepy the overall environment is. Though I suppose as a brave and mighty bow knight, it’s all the more appropriate to press on with valor in the face of darkened doom. Especially for chiptune-attuned ears, it’s a solid offering of music.

I may want to chip this tune more.

Overbowed features a control scheme that’s rather simple in nature, but a smidge more complex than what’s let on on the surface. For example, you can wall-jump continuously, similar to that of Mega Man X, which adds a dimension of strategy to these otherwise tight-knit rooms full of baddies. Or simply an escape plan. I ended up taking that method a few times.

One’s arrow quantity is finite, but technically unlimited. You can only shoot three arrows in quick succession, but ammo refills with time. This adds another element of strategy to the game that requires the player to experiment with new foes at all times. This is, from what I could gather, the only line of defense, so it remains imperative to understand how baddies work and how many arrows they can withstand. Learning the land through violence is a time-honored tradition.

Do not violently attack the frog.

The Bad

Unless I missed something, you cannot play Overbowed with a controller. Steam claims there’s “partial controller support,” but I couldn’t get my Xbox controller to activate with it even with some fumbling. Maybe it needs a more retro controller? SNES USB? I do not have the answer to this.

That said, controller support would be lovely, because playing this on keyboard is quite awkward. Really stifles one’s movement and overall flow of the game, which also makes combat less optimal. By the time I was on my fourth life, I simply threw any riskiness on my part away and avoided all enemies unless necessary. To its credit, the layout of the game made this somewhat easy, but what’s the use in being a cool bow knight if you don’t use the bow?

Pro tip: You cannot breathe underwater.

As for combat, some enemies do feel a little too… arrow-spongy. Granted this is only a demo and at the very start of a new adventure, but the player character feels almost too weak for the environment. Various enemies only take 2-3 arrows to destroy, while other can take up to 5, if I’m counting correctly. Acknowledging that the slow pace was exacerbated by playing on keyboard controls, there’s still a bit of a buffer to get through.

Conclusion

Getting a taste of adventure is always such a grand feeling. Overbowed tweaks the concept just a tad by letting the player accustom to a more long-distance playstyle. Sporting a gorgeous color palette/design and a solid interface for 2D action, there’s potential for a smaller-scale, but memorable adventure along the way. Please just let me use a controller next time.

Overbowed has a demo you can play now on Steam. (Link under “Game Summary.”)

If reading this compelled you to give me a dollar, feel free to tip me on Ko-fi.

Thank you for your time. Have a great timezone.

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