You never think that you would learn you would be a sucky murderer whilst playing a game. Whilst playing Overboard!, I realised a few things, 1) I would make a sucky murderer, and 2) I am too forgetful to remember my lies, and 3) because of the above, I therefore would also make a terrible criminal.
It is hard to empathise with someone who just murdered their own husband by shoving him off the side of a boat, but when you play to find out why, you may just get ‘onboard’ with it.
You play as Victoria Villensey, a lavish, snobby wife, who does not have any recollection of how she committed her crime. Your job is to help her cover it up. Victoria and many other companions who tread the boards are on their way to America. For anyone who loves anything similar to productions by TellTale Games or DontNod’s Life Is Strange will love the snapshot comparison of Overboard!.
The script is well written, worth reading and paying attention too. Each character has their own unique personality and you can almost hear their voice in your own mind as you read along. There are no voice actors, other than Victoria when you start up the game, and a few reaction snippets but this doesn’t take away the aesthetic whilst you play.
If you do fancy a trip down the chapel then you will meet God – definitely a highlight-, whilst they remind you just how much you have inconvenienced them by offing your own husband. There are also tongue in cheek moments when your game comes to an end, which speak to you as the player, with a reminder you will have to be better next time, for example.
Inkle have done a fabulous job of creating an incredibly infectious replayable game. Every choice matters, and with every choice comes more knowledge. The game runs as if what I can imagine committing a real crime is like, the deeper you go the more tracks you need to cover, the higher the stakes in getting caught.
The art style is a wonderful 2D comic style that stays true to the Fashion and Decor of the 1930’s in bright pop colours. Whatever fate you meet will be plastered over the front page of the local Herald in black and white noir style. The music has that 30’s jazz feel that will have you tapping your feet whilst you play. The game had no performance issues, even when loading different scenes, and relocating around the boat felt very smooth to do.
The game is set over an eight hour period. Be careful, the clock is ticking. This may not be ‘real time’ but you will see the clock tick down before you must have your story straight on your husband’s whereabouts. You are free to go where you please in that eight hour period. However, every choice, interaction and every time you relocate to a different area of the ship takes time, so execute your plan carefully.
With every choice and interaction, comes many weaves and ways your story can unfold. With every playthrough you gain more knowledge of the previous playthrough, it can give you an upper hand on the story. Eventually, you may work out what works for you, and what time to be where, so you can piece together meticulously your murdererous ways. Will you frame someone? Drug a witness? Confess all? That choice is completely yours. The NPC’s will be in different locations, at different times, which potentially redirects your whole story should you take a little longer in one room.
This game does a great job of keeping the player intrigued, I found myself with every playthrough determined to better my last run by tweaking something small or doing something completely different to measure the outcome on what my next play would be.
At one point – I even convinced myself that If I pretend to be asleep for the whole day, I could claim plausible deniability and win the game that way. Inkle was too smart to let me get away with that one.
There is a great handy feature that gives you hints to your previous playthrough on how you may succeed and overcome the barriers that you fell up against before. Strangely, you may get away with murder pretty quickly. But unfortunately, what is not so easy, is getting away with murder and running away with life insurance to live a lavish life of luxury in America.
For me, playing through games over and over again can be a real deal breaker, but being able to incorporate that into the game play mechanic itself is clever. You know what you are signing up for, and that is part of the fun. You can probably get through one run through in around 35 minutes. The more you play the more pressure you may feel to quickly do the tasks you feel are helping you concoct the perfect crime at the times of day you need to complete them.
Due to the replayability of this game, it has a handy trick that should you feel you have accidentally said the wrong thing, which may have jeopardized your whole game, there is a rewind feature for that particular scene.
However, the more I played through, the more I wished there could have been some sort of checkpoint save system, so I could get to the bit I wanted to leap off from. It became harder to remember what I had done and what had worked the more I had played. As a player it felt pretty stressful eventually trying to get up to the exact moment I thought things had gone wrong.
When I finally thought I had conquered the game, and ran away with life insurance, I was wrong. The game reminded me that the characters may know more than I think they do, and I am yet to beat the game because I had loose ends. The crime is not over yet. This is what strengthened my desire for that checkpoint save system. However, maybe I am just a bad criminal? And players will get there faster than I did.
It is extremely interesting to imagine the tens of routes you can go down, but can get tiring to remember what you said so it doesn’t bite you in the behind. Although this game is short in theory, it can provide a lot of fun during that time. How much time you as a player are willing to spend on calculating the perfect crime, will depend on your motivation to continue replaying and refining your actions and consequences.
Overboard is a 2D puzzle murder mystery, and is infectiously intriguing with a quirky art style. If you love murder mysteries and choice based games, you will have a lot of fun with this short snapshot version of one suiting its release on Switch and IOS/Android. Your patience may run short replaying 35 minute sections from the beginning however.
Overboard! is out now on Nintendo Switch (review platform), iOS and PC
Disclaimer: In order to complete this review, we were provided with a promotional copy of the game. For our full review policy, please go here.
If you enjoyed this article or any more of our content, please consider our Patreon.