Turbo Overkill early access review: Rip and (cyber) tear

Dropping in on an oblivious thug with a chainsaw for a leg is one helluva way to start a game, and Turbo Overkill wants you to know that, yeah, you’re going to see a lot more of that. Developer Trigger Happy Interactive’s early-access game is an homage to iconic first-person shooters, from Doom to Quake and a splash of Duke Nukem.

It’s the next FPS offering of modern, fast-paced shooters such as Dusk, ULTRAKILL and Doom Eternal, but it doesn’t just deliver a collection of chart-topping hits. With fast-paced gameplay, slick cyberpunk-fuelled weaponry and the satisfying boom of stylish gunfire, Turbo Overkill has style all its own.

This is only a taste of the fast-paced mayhem, as the game is still in development. Gamers will get a generous serving of it though, there are still two more episodes to come out, which will include new areas, weapons, story content and enemies. So far, the results are promising, but it will be interesting to see what else Trigger Happy Interactive brings to the table to propel this FPS from a retro-inspired shooter to a classic. 

Blade running

AI buddy S.A.M.M walks gamers through objectives for each level, as our half-metal protagonist (physically and characterized) purges the corruption of SYN, a super AI hell-bent on corrupting the world. That’s all you need to know to start ripping through crazed cyborgs with TVs for heads with your chainsaw slide. Then there’s the Exec, the contractor who hired you to get rid of the virus corrupting the world. Story takes a backseat, but there’s enough intrigue to keep the game moving from interesting locations. 

(Image credit: Trigger Happy Interactive)

Depending on how you play, levels can be beaten in around 5 to over 40 minutes. The first few levels aren’t very long, especially since there are only eight missions (along with eight secret levels) in the current early-access build. This is only the first episode of three, according to the developers, so there will be plenty more levels, weapons and upgrades coming once 1.0 comes out — planned for early 2023. 

Those secret levels aren’t story related, and generally take place in a similar environment to the level where it was unlocked. These range from surviving waves of enemies to running away from a wall of death, and they’re fun challenges to conquer, albeit short-lived. If you’re looking to get more out of the swift gameplay and master skills, it adds a decent level of replayability. 

These levels, along with special features, are unlocked by collecting three tapes and three tech chips hidden throughout each main level. Some are easy enough to find, but I’m still trying to find the last few in several areas. I was happy to explore, as the game’s modern take on retro shooter environments was appealing. Graphics aren’t a highlight, but the visual style matches Turbo Overkill perfectly. 

(Image credit: Trigger Happy Interactive)

I was left wanting more, but this is early-access, so there will be more to come. Currently, it’s missing more weapons and special abilities, and I could feel the game slow down in delivering new features towards the final act. The lack of upgrades also meant the many vending machines used to acquire weapons, upgrades and ammo became useless. Random enemies drop cash in order to buy items from these vendors, but I had already racked up quite a bit of currency just after the first few levels to buy what I needed. It will be interesting to see how the developers plan for current players to access more weapons or upgrades when Turbo Overkill officially launches, as I have a hefty chunk of change to use. 

Weapons picked up throughout the game are the usual fair: a combat shotgun (Waster) that can be stacked for a bigger blowout, dual UZIs with an alt mode that switches to one that offers a stronger yet slower fire rate, and a minigun (Twincendiary) that rattles faster the longer you hold the trigger and also doubles as a flamethrower. What Turbo Overkill can call its own is the dual Magnums, the starting weapons. While generally weak using normal fire, its secondary ability lets you charge and tag a bunch of enemies and see them explode once you let go of the trigger. There’s a punchy “pop” when it’s shot, and it’s oh-so-satisfying. Some get their own flashy animation and test battle to see the best scenarios to use them (which is any, really), while others are just found on the floor; not receiving any glory. It’s a little strange, especially when picking up the powerful minigun. Why not give it a little glory? 

(Image credit: Trigger Happy Interactive)

You’ll gain a new weapon or two in each progressing level, upgrading by adding different alt modes to deal, well, alternative damage. Some are way more useful than others, like the Boomer’s grenade launcher compared to the Waster combat shotgun’s charged shot. It would be nice to see more variation or weapon alternatives in upcoming updates.  

There are minimal glitches, but nothing game-breaking. When acquiring the micro-missiles, a powerful upgrade similar to the magnum’s alternative fire, I restarted to the last checkpoint only to be greeted with no enemies and no way to hit the key button. I could still progress, though. Otherwise, the only noticeable hiccup was enemies getting stuck under an exploded vehicle. 

(Image credit: Trigger Happy Interactive)

Our hero also really likes to flip the bird. After deploying micro-missiles, he gives his wasted enemies the metallic finger. It’s all very “obnoxious cool guy,” which fits the hyper-cyberpunk style of the game. He will even pop the middle finger when the mini-gun has no ammo (to me or enemies, I wonder). 

Throwback palooza

It’s clear Turbo Overkill is heavily influenced by Doom, from acquiring the game’s version of the super shotgun (can’t go without it these days) right down to the goofy green fish Easter egg. There’s even a small throwback to Doom’s level design with the green pool and angled walkway. It’s almost as if the developers didn’t want to wait any longer for another Doom and decided, “heck, we’ll just make our own.” And the results are on point. 

(Image credit: Trigger Happy Interactive)

That isn’t the only homage. There’s an apartment block level giving Judge Dredd vibes, flying cars and a high-rise city landscape filled with Blade Runner 2049’s huge holographic dancers, and different vending machines talking to you with bizarre quips like Scooter in Borderlands — southern American accent and all. Even AI S.A.M.M being the equivalent of Iron Man’s J.A.R.V.I.S. It all comes together as a beautiful mixture of beloved classics without feeling too on the nose; creating its own recipe with special cyber-filled ingredients.

I was incredibly surprised to see a whole new style of gameplay introduced a few levels in: piloting a weaponized flying car. It doesn’t take up a huge chunk of gameplay, but it’s an enjoyable ride that controls smoothly, and finally gave me a sense of what it must be like flying around in Blade Runner’s futuristic take on Los Angeles. Also, its turret leaves a pool of blood in its wake.
 

Cyberkill 2049

While there may not be any rip ‘n tear glory kills, eliminating enemies can get fairly gruesome. Action is fast, but there’s detail in dismembering different enemies. I could blow to the torso clean off a thug with the Boomer or leave enemies splattered all over the place with the Launcher, while leaving a mist of blood as our protagonist slides through lined-up enemies with his chainsaw leg never gets old. Although, that last one is best used on the hordes of low-level laughing TV heads charging at you, but that can get tiring after a while. I get that they can be used to gain health or armour (skills acquired in the game), but it would be nice to change it up once in a while. 

(Image credit: Trigger Happy Interactive)

Apart from that, I enjoyed the variation of enemies. Many are easy to tear through, especially on the first few levels, but that’s half the fun. Later on, however, you encounter stronger mechanised brutes with dual miniguns, an alien-type centipede that shoots lasers, and full-on mecha that give you a hard time when put together with a flurry of enemies. While you may see the same enemy groups time and time again, it’s the different scenarios the level design offers that keep you on your toes; like tight corridors while a hulking cyborg throws angled bolts at you or turrets firing at you while you fly around rooftops. It’s a blast, and just when I thought I got into the groove, the level environments would trip me up. 

Speaking of high-flying action, Turbo Overkill nailed its vertical gameplay. I saw the full extent of this during the Rooftops level, making full use of the jump pads and light platforming. The Doom Eternal-esque double dash had me flying over and around enemies while I was playing dice with falling off. Brain-powered drones can only be killed from the top, and killing them with a Boomer delivers a bouncing effect that let me hop from one to the other and land with a satisfying area-of-effect explosion obliterating thugs around me. It’s wicked.

(Image credit: Trigger Happy Interactive)

There are six different difficulty options, ranging from “Virgin Blood” (really easy) to “Murder Machines (extremely hard). I played on “Street Cleaner” (normal) while dabbling in “Serve Me Pain” (hard), and I found these options to be relatively fair. There are a number of difficulty spikes that throw you off guard, but quick reload times and reasonable checkpoints meant I could quickly hone my skills and push through. I never felt it was completely unfair, until I came to the final boss. That monster can be frustratingly hard, especially compared to what all the previous levels threw at me. But it’s also satisfying to figure out the best approach to beat the damn beast. 

Oh, and the music. It’s spot on. It’s one of those soundtracks you’ll want to listen to outside of the game, but it also matches the action perfectly. Adrenaline-pumping electronic riffs blare as you saw through enemies, switching to more aggressively daunting beats as more intimidating cyborgs stand in your way. It’s synthwave at its finest, with a splash of heavy metal that kept me blasting through half metal monstrosities for hours.

Bottom line

 If you’re looking to harken back to the good ‘ol days of tough FPS games, Turbo Overkill delivers the thrills of adrenaline-pumping kills with its own cyberpunk twist. From its thumping tunes to its high-flying, booming action, it’s a promising start to what might be a fantastic addition to the FPS genre. If anything, I enjoyed every second of gameplay in the time I’ve clocked in, and I’ll be going back for more to test my might on higher difficulties.

There’s room for improvement, especially in the variation of enemies and weapon upgrades , but there’s still more to come. The menu hints that there may be multiplayer available in upcoming releases, as there’s only a “Single-player” option available. If that’s the case, we could see a take on Quake’s fast-paced multiplayer, and will give players plenty more to do.

You can pick up Turbo Overkill at a cheaper price on Steam before the full release in 2023, and we may see more updates in the lead-up to the official launch. Fancy ripping and tearing in a futuristic city filled with crazy cyborg minions? Turbo Overkill won’t disappoint.  



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