Overwhelm is the game where enemies get power-ups, and you do not.
Developed by Ruari O’Sullivan, Overwhelm bills itself as an action-horror platformer, where the enemies are numerous and constantly improving. Every time you defeat one of the game’s five bosses, they give their abilities to other enemies. As a result, the more bosses you kill, the harder every regular enemy becomes. In case that wasn’t intimidating enough, you die in one hit, and only get three respawns before starting the run all over again. To maximise their chances of survival, players must figure out the most efficient order to defeat the game’s bosses.
Overwhelm sports a distinctive, yet detailed red and black pixelated art style, reminiscent of games on the Virtual Boy. It also has an intense soundtrack to keep players tense whilst they play. Furthermore, the emphasis on limited visibility and shadows add a further layer of tension, as danger could come from any angle, so the player has to be constantly prepared.
Whilst Overwhelm is not the only game boasting of its difficulty nowadays, its specific approach of enemies upgrading throughout the game, but not players, is enough to set it apart. However, it is somewhat unique among modern roguelikes by not offering means of permanent upgrades or progression across runs. Whilst this may prove attractive to the more hardcore crowd, eager for this kind of challenge, it may prove alienating to those more accustomed to roguelikes which give more of a sense of progression.
Overwhelm is available on Steam and Itch.Io, and is on sale until the 19th of June.