If I had to pick one sentence to describe Total Overdose, it would be ‘Oh, honey, no.’
You can tell that the devs really loved this game, but they did so in the manner of a newborn seal; all huge eyes and floppy incompetence. The music is lovingly chosen (if occasionally a bit ‘mexsploitation Yackety Sax’), the B-movie vibe speaks of hours spent watching Robert Rodriguez films, and ‘isn’t this wacky awesome cheesy fun? :D :D :D’ practically seeps from every pore. I almost feel bad for making fun of it. On the other hand, The Tay Bridge Disaster was a labour of love.
They wanted silly, addictive combat mechanics. Total Overdose combat is pretty fun. They wanted to make a ridiculous, campy game. Didn’t do too badly at that. They wanted their game to be funny…
“Oh, honey, no.”
It’s as if they’ve had jokes explained to them but have never seen one in the wild. They understand that these baffling puzzles often come in three parts, so they carefully slot them together, never quite grasping that the last one is meant to be a punchline. Or that insulting wisecracks are meant to be wise. I just want to sit them down and gently explain joke structure to them.
“No, no, guys. When the hero threatens the guy who’s wearing nothing but a speedo and protectively cupped hands, his line is not ‘Because I’m holding a gun in my hand and you’re just holding your…johnson.’ Either it’s ‘Because I’m holding a gun in my hand and you’re just holding your weapon.’ or ‘Because I’ve got Smith & Wesson in my hand and all you’re holding is Johnson.’ The innuendo should directly relate to…you’re not getting this, are you.”
And then I come back ten minutes later and the joke is now ‘Because I’m holding a gun in my hand and you have a small penis.’
For me, Total Overload is the equivalent of blue balls. I should love everything about this game. Streetfights with backflips? Villainous cowboys? Dialogue like “Okay, girls, show him your bazookas!”, said to two heavily-armed women in bikinis? Catnip. And yet.
And yet they wrote it so badly they left me – me, who willingly walks into charity shops and comes out with Bram Stoker’s Legend of the Mummy 2 – unamused and frustrated. Having a main character Francis of Assisi would backhand probably didn’t help their case.
Ramiro Cruz – ‘Ram’ to his friends, of which he has none – has a voice like a wasp in a jar and a pout like a disaffected supermodel. He subscribes to the theory of why speak when you can whine, and why let me enjoy mid-air cartwheeling when you could be getting on my tits. I started the game thinking he’d grind on my nerves and ended it thinking that his love interest, his brother, and the gutter he crawled out of were all too good for him. If I was his father, the corrupt agents wouldn’t have needed to push me out of the plane; I would have jumped to escape the embarrassment.
But once more: and yet…
I can’t bring myself to hate Total Overdose. I’ve tried to hate it. It’s tried to make me hate it. But it means so well, like my cat bringing me the butchered carcass of my gerbil. How can you despise a creature which only wants to make you happy, even if it’s by showing you the entrails of a beloved companion or saying the words “Spicy move!” every thirty seconds?
Reject Reviews updates every Thursday. You can read previous instalments here.