Overclocked: A History of Violence

I have a great love for good old fashioned PC point and click games. They are few and far between but when they come along I snap ’em up. I say snap… I usually have to trawl Amazon for a used copy from Finland or somewhere like that as the UK has a tendency to ignore them. Four years ago I treated myself to a rather grown up and decidedly cosy week of playing The Moment of Silence. Made by German developer House of Tales, The Moment of Silence was a futuristic adventure where the main character, a depressed man with a drinking problem and wife issues, investigates a government conspiracy and aids a prison escape from an island. I loved it and remembered it fondly. It’s the game I always think of when I fancy escaping into an adventure world for a bit. You can imagine my excitement when I heard the same developer were making another adventure. Overclocked: A history of Violence was apparently a game where the main character, a depressed man with a drinking problem and wife issues, investigates a government conspiracy and may well aid a prison escape from an island.

Overclocked is nothing like The Moment Of Silence. I’ll say that right away. It shares some of the same themes but it’s very much its own game. Our heavy drinking protagonist, David McNamara, is a Psychiatrist drafted in by the Government to investigate five young people found around Manhattan each completely crazed and unresponsive. The teens are being held in a Staten Island mental institute and creates a rather creepy setting for the story to unfold.

The story is told mainly through Dave’s interactions with the patients. As he teases out little parts of their story the game flashes back to their memory and you’ll play as that patient through their experience. Each patient remembers little bits of what happened, often out of sequence. You can’t have David just ask them what happened and they’ll spill the beans. triggers must be used to give them something to work with. Sometimes it’s an object you’ll have to find associated with their memories of events, mostly you’ll use the Dictaphone in Dave’s PDA to play back parts of patients recollections to trigger more. Outside of the nuthouse good old Dave’s life seems to be unravelling. It’s a genuinely disturbing slide from what seems like a really together bloke to a fractured soul for whom everything has gone wrong. There’s a sense of being betrayed somewhat as the player by having to control someone who’s not just in danger from what’s happening around him but also in danger from himself. It’s not a position you are often put in as a gamer and House of Tales deserves much credit for that.

Unfortunately David’s fractured soul is the only thing that makes the game stand out. From the get-go Overclocked has dull graphics with every environment muddy and grey and character having that doughy look that’s so very 1998. Gameplay-wise Overclocked breaks some of the most basic rules of adventure gaming. You can’t jump through dialogue a bit at a time. You’ll have to watch everything like a cutscene or skip the whole thing and given that conversations have long pauses between speakers and painstakingly slow animations like David leaning down before speaking to a patient the whole thing is incredibly oppressive and dull. It’s a shame too because when it comes to the puzzles this game could have really nailed the balance between challenge and accessibility. Although puzzles can be as compelling and tricky as the best point and clicks Overclocked allows you, with a touch of the space bar, to see everything that can be manipulated highlighted on screen at once. This eliminated the pixel sweeping of old where you’d have to run your mouse over every single bit of the screen lest you miss something your puzzle relies on finding. It’s an excellent mechanic but when I say the game could have nailed that balance what prevents it from being a triumph comes back to the inability to speed up dialogue. Playing back previous sessions to patients is at the root of this game and without the ability to speed that up the whole thing becomes repetitive and torturous.

As a massive fan of point & clicks, with a penchant for government conspiracy plots and huge respect for House of Tales it’s with great disappointment and regret that I have to discourage you from playing this game. To have produced something half as good as The Moment of Silence four years on, in a world where gaming has all but abolished this sort of painfully slow, chugging pace, is just such a waste and a pity. My addiction to adventure games remains however. If the genre was going to die out it would have by now. A slow trickle of P&Cs keep coming and some day soon I’ll be gadding around the globe again drinking, complaining about my wife and saving people from islands.







One response to “Overclocked: A History of Violence”

  1. James avatar

    Ewww… Those graphics look very off-putting indeedy.. I do love point-&-Click games though :/

Leave a Reply