There’s nothing quite like the rush of ripping and tearing your way through swarms of grotesque enemies at a speed that would likely earn you a traffic violation in real life. The high-speed first-person shooter genre was majorly popular in the 1990s, once dominated by games like DOOM, Quake, Wolfenstein, and Duke Nukem 3D to name only a few. But as PC hardware and monitors have steadily grown more advanced and, by extension, capable of handling much higher frame rates, this specific flavor of shooter, known today as the “boomer shooter,” has steadily made its return with tributes like Dusk and Post Void. And now, the heavily cyberpunk-inspired Turbo Overkill seems like the next big leap in boomer shooter madness, taking its cues from the aforementioned classics and combining it all with some of the newer sensibilities introduced in games like DOOM Eternal and Wolfenstein 2: The New Colossus. But thanks to its delightfully low-res graphic style that allows it to run at some incredibly high frame rates – Turbo Overkill can spit out frame rates of 500fps or above, if you have the hardware to support it. I got to try it for myself at PAX.
The premise of Turbo Overkill is pretty basic, but entirely serviceable for a retro-inspired shooter. You’re a cyborg agent named Johnny Turbo, a mercenary sent to the neon-tinged city of Paradise to kill a whole bunch of other cyborgs, and that’s all you really need to know. Johnny is presented in a pretty irreverent light, and by that I mean the only story cinematics that exist in Turbo Overkill encompass a few short first-person cutscenes of you enacting stylized carnage, not unlike the Doom Slayer. In its favor, that’s all Turbo Overkill needs to communicate, since this shooter is all about its unfiltered action; giblets, guts, and all.
Turbo Overkill features a ton of extremely punchy and often clever weapons, such as the Dual Magnums that can target-lock up to three opponents, allowing you to run and gun with finesse in tight situations. And you know how you can often gauge the quality of a shooter by the oomph of its shotgun? Turbo Overkill clearly knows what it’s doing here. Not to mention, the shotgun doubles as a grenade launcher that you can charge up with your right-mouse button. Plenty of these weapons have already been available to Turbo Overkill players during its early access window, and I at least got to play with the powerful new Plasma Gun which is already a welcome albeit very familiar addition to the arsenal. That said, going into my PAX preview as a fresh player, I fell in love with this game’s arsenal pretty quickly, and it’s great news that developer Apogee Entertainment has promised even more weapons on Twitter in the past. I’m also a huge fan of the DOOM 2016 and DOOM Eternal-style weapon select menu that slows down time, and that’s also present in this interface, where it fits smoothly.
All of Turbo Overkill’s graphics are presented in a low-resolution style that appears almost voxel-like, and this is extremely reminiscent of Valheim. It allows for potentially limitless framerates on a range of hardware, especially on modern PCs like the one I playtested Turbo Overkill on at PAX, which ran the game at a whopping 550 to 580 frames per second at all times – in 21:9 ultrawide resolution to boot. Regardless, it’s carried by its excellent cyberpunk-themed art style that makes the world simultaneously feel doomed and lived-in, with little residential boats lining the waterways and miraculous skyscrapers dotting the horizon, complemented by big Jumbotron-esque holograms. Paradise is a society hanging on by its last threads, and it often felt like a more macabre version of Cyberpunk 2077’s Night City.
The cyborg enemies are varied and challenging, and there’s often a specific way to handle each enemy type. You can punch through packs of lighter foes with your Dual Uzis or even with Johnny Turbo’s signature melee attack: a Chainsaw Leg that allows you to quickly zoom across the battlefield, smushing foes in your wake. Meanwhile, it’s a better idea to save your shotgun rounds for the heavier enemies while strafing from side to side. No matter how you choose to handle each battle, it’s a good idea to avoid getting hit, since you have a very low amount of health – which makes for plenty of challenge in some of the more hectic combat encounters where your screen is flooded with opponents of all types.
Episode 2 is also slated to come with a whole new campaign, finalizing the 1.0 launch of Turbo Overkill, though as a new player it’s tough to say exactly what is improved over the predecessor. Granted, it was filled with an enjoyable balance of shooting, puzzles, and platforming, and I have no reason to expect anything more when it fully releases out of early access at some point in the near future.
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Author: Ryan McCaffrey