I Am Overburdened

A title that serves as both an expression and description of gameplay, I Am Overburdened is, in principle, about everybody’s (non)favourite part of RPGs: having too much loot and struggling to juggle what to keep and what to ditch.

Should I go for those +5 gloves of nail-biting or stick with my powerglove of uncanny referencing?

The game doesn’t exactly deliver on this promise, per se, though. Funnily enough, this is a far better outcome: instead resulting in a fast paced arcade-roguelike-ish affair with an extremely streamlined loot system and minimal inventory tetris. Unlike its namesake, I am Overburdened is a simple pleasure to run through, albeit (for a commercial release) a relatively short one.

The premise is simple and one any RPG player should be pretty familiar with. There’s a tavern, there’s a grumpy barkeep, there’s a dungeon filled with insatiable horrors, and then there’s you. Like most roguelikes, or whatever you want to call them, Overburdened sees you delving into these randomly generated dungeons, horribly unprepared and basically naked, fighting monsters by walking into them repeatedly, finding some clothes and even maybe a weapon or two, and trying to make it to the bottom before the grim reaper chows down on your soul. There’s some plot involving a bird wizard down there or something, too, but hell, who really cares about rogue animagi when there’s loot to be had!

The loot system promises to be the heart of the game and in effect it is, though as I mentioned, not in the way I first expected – no, you won’t be spending much time carefully agonising over which item to keep equipped, but the game is the better for it.

You do have a whopping 20 equipment slots to fill, which are gained from treasure chests scattered about the dungeon floors that someone left lying around, and those intermittent stores that shopkeeps love to set up in dangerous dungeons for some reason. Each and every item, in addition to the usual stat boosts, pleasingly comes with pretty unique effects, ranging from a restoring health each time you open a chest or leaching health when attacking enemies, to increasing damage output when health is low, granting chances of double attacks, reducing shop costs, and more. Choosing which item to keep or leave behind is usually easy thanks to the distinct item effects. All-in-all, this makes discovering the 100 different items to be found (which will take multiple runs) quite fun.

Admittedly, the stat icons were a little strange, and took me a while to memorise: the hunk of meat represents strength, influencing damage, the metal pot thingy is defense, the carrots are vitality, influencing hit points, the coffee is speed, which influences who hits first, and the clover is, of course, luck, which I think influences how much gold drops and possibly quality of treasures, and the chance of unknown potions providing good effects (such as permanent stat boosts) instead of bad (usually poison).

That’s about as complex as it gets though. There’s no Diablo style loot fountains of the barren cow or Wizardry 8 style ten hours of customary character planning needed here. The whole experience is a streamlined one with dungeon floors limited to just one screen, and only 3 short floors between strata, with shops between. Even the shops are streamlined, stocking only three items, where (in most cases) you can only pick one.

Once you have beaten it, there are two (non-consequential) endings, and a few extra modes to unlock. There’s also the allure of repeatedly diving through the dungeon to fill out the loot list, bestiary, and your trophies. Still, keep in mind that as a commercial release (about $5 at time of writing), it doesn’t take much work to beat it, and in the space of just one rainy afternoon, I saw most of what was on offer… But it certainly wasn’t an unenjoyable afternoon.

Having said that, the process of trudging through I Am Overburdened’s dungeons is a snappy one, which enhances the “just one more run” factor a lot more than an otherwise derivative experience might warrant.

I am Overburdened | buy on itch.io

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About J.C

I grew up in the dark dingy arcades of the 1980s, blasting heads with Robocop 2, but grew up in an era that spanned the introduction of the x86 home computer, through to the 16-bit revolution, into the polygon age and beyond. I write about food, travel and of course, New Retro Games. I started newretrogames.wordpress.com and contribute to www.thecitylane.com. I am also a freelance business researcher, writer, and editor having published academic and corporate articles on innovation and intellectual property.

Posted on December 11, 2017, in Arcade, RPG, [News] and tagged , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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