Overland is a truly curious take on the post-apocalyptic genre, its turn-based gameplay turning an otherwise tired setting into something worth your time. You’ll feel vulnerable, desperate, and anxious on your hellish road trip and while that journey might outright frustrate you at times, it’s one you certainly won’t soon forget.
Every movement you commit, every action you command, and every item or character you sacrifice for another will be an apprehensive decision. But taking each of those tough steps makes you even more grateful to hear the soft chime of your car's open-door alarm when you make it back, and the rev of the motor when you escape down the highway, relieved to leave another pack of abnormal creatures behind.
Controls aren’t immediately obvious, and with such limited movements within each turn, you’re a) mostly figuring it out as you go along, and b) dying a lot. For many people, of course, the difficulty is the point, especially when we’re talking about survival horror — which, its isometric puzzle trappings notwithstanding, Overland definitely is. It doesn’t hold your hand (which, for some — i.e. me — may be a drawback), so if you’re tired of the current apocalypse and in the mood for one that’s a little different, it might just do the trick.
Generally, I enjoy turn-based strategy games and I had high expectations for what Overland had to offer. I have no problem with the game trying to move me out of my comfort zone and consider strategies not regularly employed in other titles, but it just wasn’t enough to keep my interest. I think there’s likely a group of people that will appreciate the simplified strategy and minimalistic take, but since I’m not one of them, they can feel free to abandon me like the poor soul in the tutorial.
The post-apocalypse schtick was worn out long ago, so any game using it as a thematic backdrop is always going to have an uphill struggle, but Overland attempts to set itself apart with its diorama-style maps and its McCarthy-esque road trip. While it lacks the more focused combat and systems of the very similar Into the Breach, there’s a lot to like about its bleak combination of fellowship and sacrifice. But with a procedural generation setup that doesn’t always play in its favour and a shallow inventory, its take on Armageddon can be more frustrating than fun.