- Developer: inkle Studios
- Publisher: inkle Studios
- Release Date: 02/06/2021
- Price: $14.99
- Review code provided by inkle Studios
Introducing: Overboard Review for Nintendo Switch
It was a pleasant surprise to see a shadow drop from inkle studios. As a fan of narrative driven games, I always take note when the prolific mobile developer weaves a new tale. Their plots are exciting webs of intertwining stories which beg to be untangled. The more you unravel, the more the game opens up. Each playthrough ending at different points. Such is the case with Overboard! Overboard mysteriously landed on the eShop and I couldn’t wait to review it.
The Plot Thickens
Overboard is a classic tale of whodunnit. Only, you know from the outset who the killer is. Because it’s you. You’re cast in the starring role of former actress, Veronica Villensey. Having married a dimwitted deadbeat who has lost all their money in poor investments, she decides the world, and herself, are better off without him. The couple have decided to escape their troubles and sail overseas to America, the land of opportunity. Enroute, Veronica takes advantage of the situation with only a day remaining until landfall. She lures her husband to his death. From there, you write the story as you live out the final day of the voyage.
The story and cast of characters are all really well done. Each one has secrets and desires which you can uncover to deepen the narrative. Overboard is designed to be played over and over to unlock more mysteries and attempt different endings. Unsurprising, my first playthrough resulted in imprisonment. I’d like to say I got better with each attempt but depending on the path taken, you can inadvertently paint yourself into a corner. The story is fun and intriguing and it’s nice to see all the different ways things can end. After half a dozen playthroughs, I was still getting surprised.
Put the Villain in Villensey
Overboard is a simple text adventure. You are contained to a ship with options to visit any of the rooms or sections onboard. Each area you visit may or may not have other passengers. It all comes down to you on how you spend your time. You awaken with eight hours to cover up your murder and have to decide who to engage with. Asking questions to find out if there are witnesses, searching rooms or planting evidence to frame others. It’s all part of the game.
To play, you are presented with text options and choose what you’ll do. I found the ideas I had in my mind worked well within the game. I was shocked a few times but I could see my decisions guiding the outcome in most cases. Each playthrough lasts a little more than 30 minutes. Once an attempt comes to a close, you have the option to restart. You take your knowledge as a player (of course) into the next game. Additionally, your character has thoughts on what needs to change. Almost as if the prior attempts were but a dream. Veronica may mention a key thing at the start of the final day but the game itself will have a little checklist you can preview with suggestions.
The gameplay is simplistic and the rounds feel short, but this lends to a great game to pick up and play when you may be short on time. It’s also nice to play with an audience because their feedback adds extra mileage. While playing through Overboard for my review, I had a hard time putting it down. After each attempt I wanted to start over to try something specific. I often found that I couldn’t accomplish multiple things during one game. Trying to pin the murder on two alternate suspects was hard to time. The eight hours in-game tend to go fast and I ended up missing loose ends. Sure, I might get away with the murder, but miss the better outcomes.
The Great Youdunnit
I found Overboard easy to look at during my review. The text is clear and the artstyle is straightforward and clean. There are only a handful of characters and backgrounds, but they are all a cohesive part of the story and experience. The music does a nice job matching the aesthetic and setting. If you told me Thomas Edison would feature his wax cylinder jams on a Nintendo Switch game, I’d have laughed you out of the room. But here we are, and it works.
Speaking of things working, Overboard ran without any issue for me. I did see some reports of problems with certain story arcs, but I have yet to hit on that one. The only time I suspected something was when I tried to drug an old woman and missed the prompt. Despite my best efforts to keep the old windbag talking, the pill never dissolved so I had to abandon my quest.
Overboard is a delightful surprise with a twist on the whodunnit mysteries I’m used to. It’s thought provoking, funny and more than a little dark. Though nothing is overtly explicit, there were a few scenes detailed in text that I wouldn’t want my kids to read. I’m looking at you Commander Dashing. The core game feels a bit short but it can be replayed. The addition of a few more locations or characters would have been nice as I found several of my attempts cycling through a lot of commonalities. The story and characters are well done. If you’re a fan of murder mysteries, you shouldn’t hesitate to drown yourself in this twisted tale. The price may be a little steep if you’re not a fan of narrative adventures, but for me it is worth the cost and I highly recommend the experience.
- Engaging Story
- Alternate Endings
- Excellent Cast of Characters
- Great Spin on Classic Whodunnits
- Short Experience
- Limited Locations and Characters